Rabbits and hares are mammals of the Lagomorpha
, (Lagus, rabbit, morpha
, form) order. Rabbits are typically smaller than hares.
is home to the largest variety of lagomorphs: nine rabbit species—eight pertaining to the Sylvilagus
family and one to the Romerolagus
family—plus five varieties of Lepus
-family hares. Most are endemic to Mexico and live in burrows, hollow trees, pastures or milpa
hare varieties are unique to Mexico. First there are tordas
), that range from the Northern to the Southern Highlands (Chihuahua to Oaxaca), and are medium-sized animals, light gray to brown in color. The tropical hare (Lepus flavigularis
) is similar to the torda
and resides in the Southern Highlands (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca). Finally, so-called black hares (Lepus insularis
), of moderate size, live only in Baja California (Isla Espíritu Santo, Gulf of California).
rabbits live only in the Western Hemisphere. The Castilian rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus
) is Mexico’s most common wild rabbit. Additional varieties include the desert rabbit (Sylvilagus auduboni
), tropical rabbit (Sylvilagus brasitensis
) and matorralero
rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani
); the Mexican wild rabbit (Sylvilagus cunicularius
) is noted for its size.
) rabbits are considered primitive due to their bone structure. That said, some researchers relate them more closely to hares. The teporingo
is currently a protected species; hunting or eating it is illegal.
and hares play an important role in ecosystems as food for other animals (coyotes, weasels, cacomiztles
, hawks, eagles, owls and some snakes). In turn, they consume grasses, herbs, shrubs and tender tree parts at the same time they contribute to different plant species dispersal, ingesting seeds in one place and defecating them elsewhere. Nevertheless, they can become pests in cultivated fields.
are also fit for human consumption. Rabbits and hares in fact are the most widely hunted such mammals. Rabbit and hare hunting dates to pre-Hispanic times; ancient names for the animals include tochtli
(from the Nahuatl), t'ul
(Maya) and jua
(Otomí). Nowadays, rabbits and hares can be farmed for meat.
Aztecs as well as the Maya associated rabbits and hares with the moon. The former used a rabbit glyph to designate the eighth day of the week, and the animals were also related to the southern compass point. The rabbit god Ometochtli
was the deity who oversaw drunkenness and made as well as sold pulque.
eat rabbit and hare meat grilled or roasted; marinate it in various adobos and sauces, and cook them in pits or gas ovens. The meat, divided into cuts and cooked, can be added to stews, moles, pepianes
and all manner of salsas; raw cuts, dressed in salsa and other ingredients, then wrapped in maguey or banana leaves, are subsequently cooked in pits or gas ovens.