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Pet Rabbits - When did it all begin, Pet rabbits and their history with us.

Pet rabbits and the Romans

The history of Pet Rabbits and humans, It all began when Wild rabbits are widely thought to have been first tamed in 600 A.D. by French monks.

When they were prized as food as a ‘meat substitute’ during Lent. But, according to Oxford University research, that isn’t true.

Domestication, which is commonly defined as ‘the process of taming an animal and keeping it and breed it in captivity, also the cultivation of plants for food’, When that started usually can be dated by applying historical and archaeological records.

Recent technological advancements have enabled genetic testing methods to be used to try and verify the known data. However, rather than ascertaining the origins of rabbit domestication, it has thrown up more questions than answers for scientists.

In research published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, scientists from the Oxford University Department of Archaeology test dating methods to challenge whether our relationship and affection for bunnies date back to any single event, or if it is instead better explained as a continuum that has evolved. Despite being one of the most recently domesticated animals, the research team found that none of the techniques agreed on the timing of the domestication of the rabbit.

So in conclusion researchers, take these differences and inaccuracies into account, and the team instead believe that the domestication of rabbits for both food and cute, furry companions, was more of a cumulative effect.

One that has been strengthened by a series of social trends, beginning with hunting rabbits during the Palaeolithic, to keeping them in Roman and medieval warren variations, moving them from place to place around Europe and eventually breeding them as domestic pets.

Wild Rabbit warren

Dr Greger Larson, lead-author and Director of the Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network at Oxford, explains:

‘The historical evidence credits the Romans with the earliest written records of rabbits and as being the first to use hutches. The archaeological evidence shows that rabbits were hunted during the Palaeolithic in the Iberian Peninsula and southwest France. By the Middle Ages, rabbits were considered a high-status food and regularly transported across Europe, although it took more than 2,000 years for differences between wild and domestic rabbits to be visible in their bones. Lastly, attempts to date the timing of rabbit domestication using genetic methods were clouded by uncertainty in the mutation rate.’

Evan Irving-Pease, first author and researcher at Oxford’s Department of Archaeology say's

‘There is no single date when rabbits became domesticated, and any story that is predicated on an event is unlikely to be accurate,’

He cautions: ‘We have been slightly arrogant, we know a hell of a lot less about the origins of the things that matter most to us than we think we do.

Source -Oxford University research http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2018-02-14-history-domestication-rabbit%E2%80%99s-tale

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