Amami Rabbit

The Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi), or Amami no Kuro Usagi, also known as the Ryukyu Rabbit, is a primitive dark-furred rabbit. It is only found in Amami Oshima and Toku-no-Shima, in Japan. The Amami Rabbit is a living remnant of ancient rabbits that once lived on the Asian mainland, where they died out. There are only two small islands where they survive today.

The Amami Rabbit has short legs and a somewhat bulky body. It has rather large and curved claws, and is active at night. Its ears are also significantly smaller than those of other rabbits or hares. A forest-dweller, it apparently only has one (or sometimes two) young at once. The mother digs a hole in the ground for them to hide in during the day. At night, the mother opens the entrance to the hole, while watching for predators (like venomous snakes). She then nurses the young. It then closes the hole with dirt and plant material by thumping on it with its front paws. Amami Rabbits sleep during the day in hidden places, such as caves. Amami Rabbits are also noted for making calling noises. They sound something like the call of a pika. This makes them unique because most rabbits cannot make calling noises.

The Amami Rabbit is endangered, because of hunting. This ended when Japan gave the rabbit legal protection in 1921. It also ended because of deforestation and killings by dogs, cats, and other animals introduced by humans. Mongooses released by island residents to kill poisonous snakes have killed a large number of Amami Rabbits. Deforestation is also very harmful to the rabbits. They asleep during daylight, and are often killed without being able to flee.