Archive for January, 2011

Tips for Building Rabbit Cages

January 31, 2011

Five Tips for Building Your Own Rabbit Cages

1. Make sure you have two essential tools: J-clip pliers and wire snips.  Specially designed J-clip pliers are available from your local rabbit supply dealer and are a must-have for building rabbit cages.   Those funny clips slide on easily with the right tool, but are hard to manage with any other type of pliers—trust me.  The other essential tool is a sturdy pair of wire cutters.  You have to make hundreds of wire snips to build a few cages, and without the right tool, this is the most tiring part of building rabbit cages.  A pair of needle-nosed pliers can also come in handy for getting those J-clips off that landed in the wrong places.

2. Buy pre-cut floors.  The dealer that sells you a roll of wire will probably also sell you floors pre-cut to your size specifications.  It’s highly uneconomical and impractical to buy a roll ½ x 1” floor wire in addition to the 1 x 2” wire that is suitable for the sides and top of a cage.  Plus, it saves you thousands of wire snips!

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Buy or Build Rabbit Cages

January 30, 2011

To Build or Buy: A Breeder’s Dilemma

Do you remember your start in rabbits? (Most people do; I’ve only heard of one breeder that didn’t, and wasn’t born into it.) When you started, which did you pay more for: your rabbit or its cage? A decent pedigreed rabbit costs around $30.00. An average single-hole cage with a sliding tray can run more like $35.00..and up. Thus a question arises in the mind of many breeders: should I buy or build my show rabbit cages?

I’ve had experience with both buying and building rabbit cages. Building your own cages can be cost effective, but is it worth it? I think the answer depends on three things: how handy you are with the tools, how much time you have for the project, and how many cages you plan to make.

Buying and Building Cages: Pro’s and Con’s

Pro’s to Buying Rabbit Cages:
Cages purchased from a rabbit supply dealer are solidly built and won’t pop apart when you aren’t expecting them to, which can be sad reality of homemade cages! The freestanding stacking units are a marvel, really, and very space efficient. Plus—you’re saved a lot of time and hassle!
Con’s to Buying Rabbit Cages:
Cages purchased from dealers tend to be quite expensive. Also, they may not have just the size and shape you want in stock. However, most local suppliers are happy to custom-build cages to fit your barn.
Pro’s to Building Your Own Rabbit Cages:
One of the advantages to building your own cages is that they are completely customizable—if you’re handy enough to accomplish it! I would say, based, on my experience, that it is cost-effective to buy wire and build your own cages if you are going to build at least 20-25 holes. The time spent building cages can be a great chance to have some fun with Dad, and it gives you a real sense of pride (and relief) when you’re finally done!
Con’s to Building Your Own Rabbit Cages:
Building your own cages is a clumsy process, and there is plenty of room for errors, such as cutting a side too short, or putting a floor on upside-down. Personally , I think the hardest part about building your own cages is cutting the wire with manual clippers. The project is very time consuming, and in the end you have a product that will probably need a hutch or shelf to support it and may have rough edges.

Overall, I think it’s better to buy your rabbit cages. The local dealers need your support, and buying cages gives you more time to focus on the bunnies. But the choice is yours, and if you are still considering building cages, check back here soon for 5 tips that will make your job much easier!


Buy your cage-building supplies here!

We have your rabbit supply needs covered at!  We’ve got the essentials in cages, carriers, drop trays, cage stands, nest boxes, feeding and watering equipment, as well as valuable accessories such as EZ-mats, harnesses, cage card holders, and much more.  Visit to see our selection.


Five Rabbit Judging Tips

January 27, 2011
Announcement! If you are a youth member studying for the 2013 ARBA Convention, we are having an online group quiz/study night on every Sunday evening leading up to Convention. Dates are Sept 22, Oct 5, and Oct 13. Anyone is welcome. The place is Contact me if you have any questions.

Five Judging Tips that Judges and Registrars Taught Me

*4-H Leaders: Click here to download this post as a print-ready file for your club members!*

1. When judging, decide if each rabbit is good, fair, or poor before you compare it to the others.  Perhaps if you are judging a class of four in a judging contest, pick your best and your worst, and then figure out the middle two.  In a large class, divide it mentally into thirds.  Remember that judging is by comparison– not by tallying up points.

2. Blurring your eyes while looking at a harlequin can help make the bars and bands stand out.

3. Make it a habit to blow into the coat on every rabbit, also to check every toenail and under every front leg.  You see a lot of interesting things that way!

4. A common indicator of spots in the eye is a bunny that squints.

5. The ideal Rex rabbit fur has a little bit of drag to it as you stroke it from back to front.  This is caused by flat tops to the hair ends, like little columns.  Slick coats are caused by hair tips that taper, providing less resistance.

Free Sample Pages from Cavy Savvy

January 21, 2011

Check out these free sample pages from our newest book, “Cavy Savvy 2-in-1” .   Cute, colorful, and creative, CAVY SAVVY is a great study aid both for new cavy owners and for those ARBA royalty contestants that, yes, “hafta” study cavies to win!

These pages are not available on our “free downloads” page or anywhere else on the internet.  Grab them now, or buy the book! 

Page 1: A guide to choosing your cavy.
Page 2: Illustrated faults and disqualifications.
Page 3: Fun Cavy Puzzles

Baby Bunny Photo Shoot

January 15, 2011
One of my favorite things to do with bunnies is take the babies out in the yard for a photo shoot…

“Hey let’s go play explorers!”


“I wanna be Cwistapher Columbus!”

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Himalayan Rabbit Color Genetics

January 13, 2011
The Coolness of Himalayan

What’s black on both ends and white in the middle?  No, it’s not an oreo, because it walks.  No, it’s not a belted cow, because it has ruby red eyes.  It must be a Himalayan Bunny!

In rabbits, “Himalayan” is the name of both a color and a breed that sports that color.  The Himalayan breed is a pretty cool study, too, but this article’s concern is with the variety.


The Himalayan color is pure white with dark “points”; that is, the nose, ears, feet, and tail are colored while the rest of the bunny is white.  This is caused by a gene that is commonly called the “Himalayan gene”, symbolized by the letters ch.  The group of “C” genes in rabbits controls the amount and placement of the color.  The “Full Color” gene, symbolized by a capital C, produces varieties like chestnut, black, blue, chocolate, and otter.  The lowest and weakest “C” gene is the Ruby-Eyed White gene, symbolized by a lowercase c.  The REW gene removes all color from the fur and eyes.

Himalayan, or “ch”, is just one step above REW—most of the color is gone, but it lingers on the rabbit’s extremities.

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“Dear Pearl” :: Humor for Rabbit Breeders

January 10, 2011

Here it is! I hope all you breeders enjoy this  first  post called, “Dear Pearl,”  poking fun at my favorite hobby.  Being a series of letters from imaginary breeder Britanny Petite to her dear friend, Pearl Marten.

[Disclaimer: All characters mentioned in these “letters” are fictional (at least, most of them! ) as well as all clubs (except ARBA/ACBA), shows, locations, and/or incidents.  These letters are intended get some fun out of the hobby of rabbit breeding and showing.  However, please be aware that these “letters” do NOT reflect usual or recommended practices of rabbit show breeders.  It’s more often quite the opposite…]

Dear Pearl,

How are things with you and your rabbitry?  I’m doing fine: eating well and getting plenty of sleep.  Please don’t think me lazy; I’m saving up for next week when I have 16 does due and only 11 nestboxes bought.  Next year, remind me that breeding rabbits in the winter is like trying to beat Betty Chu: it’s a lose-lose proposition.  If I don’t run a heater I’m up 24/7 to catch the babies, and if I do, I’m up 24/7 for fear of fire.

I did get a litter of three on Christmas Eve and named them Ho, Ho, and Ho.  I like to do that with juniors.  I can post “Ho” for sale on my website a month before nationals and I get a little extra time to decide which one that is.  For now though, they’re the laziest little black bundles I’ve ever seen.  Each opened one eye a full three days ahead of the other eye, and the only time I’ve seen one out of the box yet is when Ho dared Ho to stick its tongue to the steel J-feeder.  (By the way, please pardon my use of the pronoun “its”.  I’m not one of those talented beings that can squint just right and sex kits at birth.)

I hope you can make it to our PORC show next month.  PORC (Polish Only Rabbit Club) is a really cool group of breeders that focuses on “the other white variety,” that is, BEW’s.

Well, I look forward to hearing from you, but there’s no rush.  Just get back to me before the Lionheads get accepted.


Coming Next time on the Rabbit Smarties Blog: “The Coolness of Himalayan”

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Becoming an ARBA Rabbit Registrar, part 2

January 9, 2011


6) Make your own study guide. A few breeders have written study guides and practice tests for registrar’s applicants that are available online.  Also, the ARBA publishes study guides for rabbit and cavy registrar applicants.   These guides are excellent resources that help you know what to study.  However, you have an even better shot at programming all that information into your mental hard drive if you write your own study guide and practice tests.   Simply take a notebook and categorize information something like this:


– PROCEDURES FOR REGISTERING A RABBIT. (From ARBA yearbook) You should know what the current fees are, what the requirements for registration are, what the maximum length of a name is, details about how to fill out a registration blank, etc.

– ALL-BREED FAULTS AND DISQUALIFICATIONS.  (From current Standard of Perfection)

-DETAILS ON EACH BREED.  Devote a page to each breed that includes the following:

Disqualifications – probably the most important thing you need to know.  I memorized a list of the disqualifications of each breed when I was studying.

Faults – you should be familiar with the ideal type/fur and the faults/severe faults for each breed.

Weights – you will probably not be asked questions about specific breed weights on your written exam.  However, it never hurts to be familiar with them.

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Becoming an ARBA Rabbit Registrar, Part 1

January 5, 2011

Ten Tips to become an ARBA Licensed Registrar, Part I

Prestige.  Income.  Becoming a judge:  All of these are reasons why breeders may pursue a rabbit or cavy registrar’s license.  But the number one reason to consider becoming a registrar, and the only guaranteed benefit, is the in-depth learning experience you’ll gain in the process of licensing.  Even if you never plan to be a judge, the skills you will gain in studying the Standard and working under professionals will help you develop your herd of rabbits to its top potential.  

Ten Preparation and Study Tips for ARBA Registrar Applicants

1) Don’t fill out the application until you have the time to pursue a license.  It’s not uncommon for breeders to request the application for a registrar’s license from the ARBA months before they actually send in the form.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, it does become dangerous when you fill out the application and get your signatures long before you actually apply.  A certain number of current adult ARBA members must endorse your application.  If you get the signatures months before you send in your application, some of their memberships may have lapsed.  It’s also a good idea to have a few extra people sign on the back of your form in case some of them had let their membership expire.  It’s usually pretty easy to get the required signatures at a show.

2) Study before you apply!  Once you send in your application to the ARBA and it’s approved, you have just two years to complete the licensing process.  While this seems like a long time, we have busy lives and it goes fast!  So, do not apply for a license until you have done your studying and are ready to test.  If you don’t get at least 70% on both the written and oral exams, you have to wait six months to retest. (more…)

New Blog for Rabbit Breeders

January 1, 2011

Opal Mini RexHappy New Year from Rabbit Smarties Publications!  We’re determined to make 2011 a fantastic year for our business, which means you can count on our help to make it a great year for your rabbitry as well.  We plan to release several new resources for breeders this month, starting with this blog!  We’re excited about this blog that will offer many articles of interest to rabbit breeders.  Future posts may feature:

 – Articles on many aspects of rabbit keeping and competition

-Rabbit equipment reviews and ratings

– Creative tips for 4-H leaders

– Super cute bunny pictures and captions

– Interviews with rabbit judges or leading breeders

-Special offers for Rabbit Smarties publications

-And much more! 

One catagory of blog post that I am most looking forward to is a comedy column:  Correspondence between imaginary breeders Brittany Petite and Pearl Marten that every breeder can relate to!

To get things rolling we’re going to start with a couple of posts a week, so check back soon!

Happy New Year!  Check back later this week for 10 Tips for Preparing for a Registar’s License!–Ellyn,
Rabbit Smarties