The Amami Black rabbits are found only on the tiny islands of Amami Oshima and Toku no shima in the Nansei Islands far out to sea near Okinawa.
The special bunny has seen a series of promotions in status over the years, firstly becoming a natural monument in 1921, protecting it from being hunted. Then in 1963 the bulky bodied, short hind legged rabbits was then further elevated in status to special natural monument, preventing both hunting and trapping of the isolated species.
The short eared black rabbit survived on the tiny Japanese islands which were predominantly free of predators until the onset of introduced species.
Destruction of the rabbit's natural habitat for construction purposes is also said to have contributed to the decline.
Also referred to as the Ryukyu rabbit, it is known for its strange behaviour. This nocturnal forest dweller buries its babies in a hole in the ground, covering them with dirt to evade hungry predators and only returns at midnight to uncover her young while watching out for would be attackers.
The mother then feeds her young milk, before tucking them back into the earth packing the soil down with her front paws.
The furry national treasure breeds only twice a year, giving birth to just one or two young at a time.