Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year New Bunny

 So New Years is all about having a great party and welcoming the new year with hopes it will be better than the last.  Well I know 2012 is going to be a great year for me because I got a new bunny!  Her name is Opal, and she is a blue Flemish Giant.  While this isn't the largest breed of rabbit, she is a very big girl, and should grow up to be well over 20 lbs.  In today's post we will talk about some science but I'm also a history fan so I'm going to change things up and talk about how giant breeds (in this case rabbits) came to America.

Opal at 8 weeks old

In the 1800's rabbits were raised and used for meat very commonly throughout Europe.  This was mainly due to the fact that large livestock was expensive to feed, house and had slow breeding rates.  Rabbits have limited need for space and very fast reproductive rates. Being an island, England consumed large amouts of rabbits, and soon turned to importing them to keep up with demand.  Commonly bred rabbits were mid sized around 7 to 8 lbs.  Travelers returned to England with wild tales of rabbits three times the size in Flanders.  Thus around 1860 Flemish Giants were imported to England, then imported to the Americas in 1890 during a similar "rabbit boom".  So now that we know how Flemish Giants got here lets get down to some science!

Opal at 10 weeks old

Probably the most distinguishable features of rabbits are their giant ears.  Most people know their ears act like giant dishes to catch sound waves.  But their ears are also one of their main temperature control (i.e. thermoregulation) devices.  When looking at the rabbits ears you will see many blood vessels.  If a rabbit is cold the simply need to go out into the sun or fold their ears close to their furry bodies, the ears blood vessels go through vasoconstriction or become smaller to retain heat.  If a rabbit is hot they can go into the shade and fan out their ears, where their blood vessels go through vasodilation.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year,
Cass (and Opal as the Jackalope)

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