The original European wild rabbits evolved about 4,000 years ago in Iberia.
In fact the visiting Phoenician merchants referred to part of Iberia as ‘I shephanim’ which means land of the rabbits. This was translated as ‘Hispania’ or as we know it – Spain.
Life was peaceful for the rabbits until the Romans arrived in Spain in the 2nd century B.C. A pair of rabbits can produce up to 200lbs of meat a year and so were ideal for farming; a practice known as cuniculture.
The increasing trade between countries helped introduce rabbits to every continent except for Antarctica.
The domestication of rabbits began in medieval times when monks kept rabbits for food. Newly born rabbits, known as Laurices, were not considered to be meat and were so allowed to be eaten during Lent.
With the industrial revolution, many people moved from the countryside into towns, bringing their rabbits with them for food.
It was around this time that things started to look up for rabbits. As people began to see them as the beautiful creatures they are, and not just a food source, they started to be breed for shows and competitions. Nowadays, they have become a much loved pet and a welcome addition to a great many family household