Bunolagus monticularis - The Riverine Rabbit

With only a few hundred Riverine Rabbits still roaming the wild habitats of South Africa, this is said to be one of the country’s rarest mammals. The beautiful Riverine Rabbit is a rare animal, also known as the boshaas, pondhaas, doekvoetjie, vlei haas and Bushman’s hare.

Did you know? The differences between rabbits and hares? Rabbits are born blind, hairless and immobile and are totally dependent on their mother after birth. Hare are born with open eyes, fully furred and active within 48 hours after birth.

This rabbit is an earthy brown, characterised by the darker brown stripe that runs along the bottom jaw, and the white ring around each eye. The belly is a lighter brown than the top of the rabbit and the tail is a uniform woolly brown with no markings; unlike the back, which has flecking. This colouring aids in its camouflage. Its back feet are broader than those at the front, and than those of other rabbit species.


The body of the Riverine Rabbit is between 337 and 470 mm long, with an added tail length of 70 to 108 mm. The long ears stand at about 115 mm in length.


The female weighs slightly more than the male. Females average around 1.8 kg, while males are generally around the 1.5 kg mark.


The Riverine Rabbit lives in a specialised zone known as riparian, which refers to the area between the land and a river. This fine alluvial soil of the floodplains is ideal for the rabbits’ needs, which include building stable burrows in which to breed and live.


It is a rare and wondrous thing to spot the Riverine Rabbit. The beautiful riverine rabbit can sometimes be seen in the wild. Great places to see them are the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (near Montagu, three hours from Cape Town), and the Anysberg Nature Reserve (about four hours from Cape Town, in the Klein Karoo), both in the Western Cape.

Diet - Herbivores

The Riverine Rabbit feeds on the leaves and flowers of the wild vegetation in its habitat. During the rainy season, it will include the soft, sweet grass in its diet too.


The Riverine Rabbit is a nocturnal animal. During the day, it conceals itself in shallow scrapes under the bushes. They are polygamous, while they live and browse for food as solo creatures. They have intrasexually exclusive home ranges; the males’ home ranges overlap a little with those of the various females.


Unlike other rabbits, the beautiful Riverine Rabbit has a particularly slow breeding rate, with only one or two babies being born to a female throughout the course of an entire year. These rabbits will mate with a number of individuals, and are the only known rabbit species to make nests for the baby. Very rarely, two kits may be born at once.


The Riverine Rabbit has a gestation period of around 35 days.

Life Expectancy

This rabbit has a lifespan in the wild of only three, occasionally four, years.


The Riverine Rabbit is listed as being Critically Endangered on the IUCN list. It is threatened by the agricultural development of its natural habitat, which has left much of it overgrazed and decimated.

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Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

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Where to see Riverine Rabbit in their natural habitat?

Want to see riverine rabbits in their natural habitat? Found only in South Africa's Karoo Region, find the critically endangered riverine rabbit in these reserves and parks (if you are fortunate you may spot one)...

Conservation Status
Riverine Rabbit
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