The history of...
Rabbits existed 55 million years ago, well a rabbit type animal called a Gomphos Elkema.
They were first discovered by humans around 1200BC by sailors sailing around the Mediterranean coast.
In 200BC the Romans were the first to domesticate rabbits. Although they used rabbits for their meat and fur they were held in high regard. They even added rabbits into their artwork and mosaics, an emperor even had one on a coin.
The Romans brought rabbits with them when they invaded in 43AD.
In the 5th Century French monks living in Champagne are thought to be the first to truly domesticate rabbits. By keeping the rabbits within the monastery walls they were able to selectively breed so they could change the rabbits colours and size.
In the 12th Century in Britain some were bred into long haired rabbits which meant the fur could be used without the need to kill the rabbit.
During this time other regions and countries were selectively breeding rabbits, which is why there are such a large variety of domesticated rabbits today.
Although it is common for humans to believe house or indoor rabbits are a new thing but in fact it was the Victorians that started keeping rabbits as pets to show them off as a curiosity and at exhibitions. They would have kept rabbits in the nursery or outside for their children to have as pets.
Victorians still kept some rabbits for their meat.
Today it is unknown exactly the number of domesticated rabbit breeds which can live up to 12 years, depending on breed.