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Reasons Why the Volcano Rabbit Might Be Extinct

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Volcano rabbits (Romerolagus diazi) are diminutive mammals that are native to Mexico, where they have an extremely limited geographic scope. Outside of Mexico, they are not found anywhere else on Earth. Though volcano rabbits still exist and are not considered to be extinct, they are indeed an endangered species, with an array of different risk factors.

About Volcano Rabbits

These furry creatures, as their names convey, live amidst volcanoes, specifically those of the Chichinautzin volcanic field roughly 200 miles away from Mexico City. Volcano rabbits usually weigh between 14 and 21 ounces and are usually 9 to 13 inches long. Their thick, short coats are a blend of black, gray and deep brown. Their tiny tails are practically impossible to make out. Volcano rabbits tend to remain in social units of two to five individuals. They are mostly nocturnal and are especially busy in the times leading up to daybreak and immediately following nightfall.

Population Status

Volcano rabbits are, as of the official 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species determination, not yet extinct. However, the wee rabbits are considered to be "endangered" animals, which indicates that, without intervention and management, extinction may be an imminent possibility for the future. As of the assessment, numbers for volcano rabbits were believed to be going up, rather than dropping.

Habitat Problems

Habitat ruination is a serious factor that contributes to the ongoing endangered categorization of the species. These pine forest inhabitants' living environments are frequently compromised by agricultural development, expansion of human structures, excessive grazing by livestock animals, logging activities, forest fires, the building of highways and the extraction of grasses for thatch production. All of these risks to their habitat are problematic for the well-being and survival of volcano rabbits as a group.

Unlawful Hunting

Unlawful hunting activities are also a prominent factor in the endangered population status of volcano rabbits. Although strictly forbidden in Mexico, volcano rabbit hunting still takes place within the species' range. Some parks are even specifically designated as protective sanctuaries for their volcano rabbit residents. The hunting is common both for sustenance and target purposes.