Annamite striped rabbits are very similar in appearance to their sister species, Sumatran striped rabbits, but morphological and genetic data support species-level distinction.
Annamite striped rabbits are very similar in appearance to their sister species, Sumatran striped rabbits (Nesolagus netscheri). These two rabbits are sister taxa within the monophyletic genus Nesolagus. Both morphological and genetic data support species-level distinction from the Sumatran striped rabbit.
Descriptions of Nesolagus species are partly based on images made by camera traps. To capture the Sumatran striped rabbit, the cameras were set in the montane forests of Sumatra, while the Annamite Striped rabbit was seen in the Annamite mountain range of Laos and Vietnam. Both species of striped rabbit have seven brown or black stripes and a red rump and white underside. They are the only species of rabbits to have stripes. They are relatively small with a length of about 368–417 millimeters, with a tail of about 17 millimeters and ears about 43–45 millimeters long. Thus the ears of Nesolagus are only about half as long as in most rabbits, e.g. in the genus Lepus. Their fur is soft and dense, overlaid by longer, harsher hairs.
However, several skull features distinguish the Annamite striped rabbit from the Sumatran striped rabbit. The Annamite striped rabbit’s foramen lacerum is smaller and narrower mediolaterally than that of the Sumatran striped rabbit. The Annamite’s P2 is 93% the length of P3 and has two folds on its anterior side, whereas the Sumatran’s P2 is only 73% the length of P3 with one fold. Lastly, the Annamite’s greatest skull length is 12% larger at 78.9 millimeters versus 70 millimeters.
• Image | ©️ Bongopete, (CC BY-SA 4.0)
• Sources | (Averianov, Abramov, & Tikhonov, 2000; Hoedl, 2012; Jin, Tomida, Wang, & Zhang, 2010; Nowak, 1999; Surridge, Timmins, Hewitt, & Bell, 1999; Tilker, et al., 2019; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2021a, 2021b)