RABBITS: a family of small rodents of the Leporidae genus. In some sections of the United States the name is applied also to members of the hare family (see BARE). In the Central States, the hare is distinguished by the appellation "jack-rabbit," the rabbit being colloquially known as the "cotton-tail." The animal multiplies very rapidly—its increase to the proportions of a pest in Australia is a matter of common knowledge.
The flesh makes good eating, both fresh and canned, if the animal is young and plump. The age of the fresh carcass may be ascertained by the ears—if they tear easily it will be found acceptable on that score. If they don't, no argument should induce one to purchase, for an old or soft, limp rabbit will never give satisfaction.
Rabbit meat is subject to somewhat curious prejudices. In England and Prance, it is eaten and enjoyed in enormous quantities, but in this country it is not popular and the sale is comparatively small—and, curiously enough, this dislike is shared by West Indian negroes, though they greedily devour snakes, toads and centipedes! Great numbers of rabbits are raised in Belgium for export alive to England, but the business of canning the meat is centered principally in South Australia and New Zealand.
The rabbits are caught at night, dressed with the skins on and taken by the cart load to the factories. There the heads are removed—to be afterwards boiled down for jelly—the legs cut off, and the pelts laid aside. The bodies are slightly salted to remove the blood, then washed, chopped up in suitable sized pieces and canned in the usual method, except that the first boiling of the cans is exceptionally long.
Domestic rabbits should not be eaten unless they have had wide, free range.
The Belgian Hare is a large variety of rabbit, which resembles the Common Hare in appearance but has no real relation to it. The flesh has the same flavor and charac teristics as that of the common rabbit.