"Rabbit vs Bunny" - The Ultimate Debate!
For as long as the internet has existed, many have idly wondered “What’s the difference between a rabbit and a bunny?”
“Rabbit vs bunny”, “Bunny vs Rabbit,” and many similar variations have been searched literally thousands of times, with people desperately seeking some consensus about the difference between the two monikers.
Well fear not, you lively lagomorph lovers and rigorous rabbit researchers, BunnyDad is a strong believer in public education, elucidation, and obfuscation elimination, especially when it comes to the bunny rabbit nation.
So, to avoid any further grandstanding, filibustering, or pointless procrastination…
What’s the Difference Between a Bunny and a Rabbit?
They’re the same animal.
Sometimes the term “bunny” will be used to refer to a young rabbit, though this has no societal consensus, and hasn’t been endorsed by scientific nomenclature or veterinary communities.
Scientific Names for Rabbits
Scientifically speaking, rabbits and bunnies are the same. The terms “rabbit” and “bunny” both refer to the same small mammals from the family Leporidae (order Lagomorpha).
The order Lagomorpha contains only two families, Leporidae, comprising all rabbit and hare species, and Ochotonidae, comprising 37 species of small round-eared mammals known as Pikas.
In the family Leporidae, which comprises all types of rabbits and hares, the known subsets contained within, or genera, are Pentalagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Brachylagus, Sylvilagus, Poelagus, Bunolagus (probably where the word “bunny” comes from), and Oryctolagus.
The European Rabbit and all breeds of domesticated rabbit are contained within Oryctolagus.
Etymology of Rabbit, Bunny, and Coney
Of the three names most commonly used for our sweet little friends known Oryctolagus Cuniculus (domesticated rabbits), “coney”, “bunny,” and “rabbit” all have seemingly separate origins.
“Coney” seems to have been a shortening of the Latin word “Cuniculus,” which you’ll recognize as part of the scientific nomenclature for rabbits. In latin, Cuniculus means a small burrow or tunnel. This one makes sense.
“Rabbit” almost certainly comes from a word from an Old French term, robèt, which means “little thief,” or “little robber.” This one also makes sense, and I think it’s funny to imagine a grumpy french farmer calling out this little thief in a moment of consternation. Peter Cottontail and Br’er Rabbit have apparently been at their antics for quite some time.
“Bunny” seems to come from Scottish Gaelic, or Old Irish term, bun, which means a thick base, stumpy butt, or stub of something.” Our little thick-butted furry friends with stumpy tails were probably offended by this nickname at first, but they seem to have reclaimed it for the rabbit community since then.
Domesticated Rabbit Breeds
There are estimated to be at least 305 domesticated breeds of rabbit, all of whom are descended from the European Rabbit species named Oryctolagus Cuniculus.
Domesticated rabbit breeds are classified into five body types: full arch, semi-arch, compact, commercial, cylindrical.
History of Coneys, Rabbits, & Bunnies
In the 18th century, the term “coney” was commonly used for adult rabbits, and “rabbit” was reserved for the young. As colloquial usage has shifted, “coney” has become archaic and fallen out of use, and “rabbit” and “bunny” have both become interchangeable, neither of which indicating age.
A Group of Rabbits
For some added fun, a group of rabbits can be referred to either as “a colony”, which sounds a bit lofty and political for bunnies, or as “a fluffle,” which sounds appropriately silly and soft.
What’s the Difference Between Rabbits and Bunnies?
As these terms are currently open to molding, we here at BunnyDad have decided to lead the conversation by arbitrarily declaring that “rabbit” shall be the term for the adorable and entertaining animals of this family, and “bunny” shall be the term reserved for those who are especially cute and funny.
Still not clear? Allow us to demonstrate:
Would you say that this animal is a rabbit or bunny?
Rabbit or Bunny?
Bunny or Rabbit?
Answer: That’s right. It’s a Bunny Rabbit.
Are you feeling clearer about the whole “rabbit vs bunny,” “bunny vs rabbit” debate? We’re glad we could help.
For the record, there is a plethora of cute rabbit names for baby bunnies:
Rabbits, Bunnies, Baby Rabbits, Baby Bunnies, Kits, Kittens, Kitties, Flops, Floofs, Fluffballs, Nature’s Stuffed Animals, and about a million other names along these lines.
Best of luck to you and your fluffles, BunnyGang!