Indeed the wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus of southern Europe and North Africa is thought to have been discovered by Phoenicians when they reached the shores of Spain about 1000 BC. In Roman times the rabbit was still emblematic of Spain . The Romans apparently spread the rabbit throughout the Roman Empire as a game animal. Like the Spaniards of that time, they ate fetuses or newborn rabbits, which they called laurices.
Several breeds of rabbit were known in the 16th century and this is the first record we have of controlled breeding. Domestication can therefore be traced to the date Middle Ages. This was probably the work mainly of monks, since it provided them with a more delectable dish than the tougher wild rabbit.
In the 16th century breeding seems to have spread across France , Italy , Flanders and England
. In 1595, Agricola mentions the existence of graybrown (wild), white, black, piebald (black and white) and ash grey rabbits. In 1606, Olivier de Serres classified 3 types of rabbit: the wild rabbit, the semi wild or “warren” rabbit raised inside walls or ditches, and the domesticated or hutch-bred rabbit. The meat of the last is described as insipid, and that of the wild or semi wild type as delicate.