Rabbit fever movie youth royalty

At last!  A movie about us Rabbit People!

Recently I finally got the opportunity to watch the movie Rabbit Fever.  And you know what?  I’m glad I did.

Created by Amy Do, Rabbit Fever is a full-length documentary about the rabbit showing hobby.  It focuses on the ARBA Youth Royalty contest, following five young rabbit breeders in their quests to become the ARBA King or Queen.  We’ve been hearing about the production of this movie for years, and now it’s finally available via DVD and streaming at RabbitFever.com.  Amy gave about ten years and most of the resources she had – including funds she had intended to put toward a house – to producing this film, and I’m glad to be able to thank her for that effort.

A Very Personal Connection

ARBA Royalty Contests were the focus of my teenage years.  Like the “stars” in the movie, I poured all my effort into my dream of winning ARBA Queen.  In fact, the kids featured in the movie were my role models.  They were in the age group just above me, and so were the very people that I held in high respect.  Jeremy Garrett helped coach me in Royalty, and Jenna Anderson’s mom answered some of my questions when I was studying.

For a long time I didn’t want to see this movie.  Royalty contests were just too close to my heart.  Since I never did win National Queen (though I was twice a runner-up), I was afraid that seeing this movie would arouse competitive feelings that I didn’t want creeping back.  I was afraid that the movie wouldn’t depict the hobby accurately, that it would play up the Royalty contests to be different than they actually are, or caricaturize rabbit breeders as total weirdoes.  But it doesn’t.  I can say with confidence that Rabbit Fever portrays the hobby exactly as it is, and overall in a very positive light.  (In other words, if it does make rabbit breeders out to be total weirdoes, then I am too much of one myself to notice!)

The Content is Real

Amy did a great job capturing the spirit of rabbit royalty contests: so many young people putting so much time and effort into the project, when only a few come away with an award.  She shows how some youth members have worked at it for most of their lives, and how they give up “normal” teenage activities to focus on their rabbit projects.  She touches on both the hardcore “If I don’t win I’ll cry” competitiveness, and also the priceless friendships that youth members build with each other.  These major themes are brought to life by the little details that are oh-so-accurate, like the total randomness of the judging callbacks, and how easy it is to blow the four-minute interview that makes or breaks your chance at the crown.

Honestly when the film was over, it felt more like I had flipped through one of my personal scrapbooks than that I had just watched a movie.  Of course, it helped that I recognized a huge percentage of the people in it and even spotted myself in the background of one shot.  (I remember Amy being at Convention filming, but I didn’t know at the time that she was making a movie.)   I was there at that banquet in 2005, and at others in later years.  The film brought back the hold-your-breath jitters when the winners were being announced.  I identified with the girls on stage receiving their awards, and also with Lindsey Lauterbach looking into the happy banquet room once her royalty career was over and thinking, “this used to be me.”

These are my friends! A screenshot from the movie showing some Michigan team members

Film Quality is Good

To me the film feels a little rushed, but there’s so much to tell about the rabbit hobby, and an hour and twenty-three minutes is so little time.  Cavies, team contests, and local shows were barely mentioned, and breed judging is covered only briefly.  But when we consider how many facets this hobby has, it’s easy to see how Amy shot over 150 hours of footage for this film.  I was really impressed at how family-friendly the film is.  It’s (virtually) free of bad language and any political slant, and features some super cute animations.  My one minor complaint is that it implies that Joe Kim won convention BIS in 2005, when he actually won in 2003.

The Take-Away’s

If you are an ARBA royalty hopeful, then watch this film.  I strongly recommend it.  It portrays the contests very accurately and, since it allows you to see into the lives of other participants, helps put the whole thing in perspective.   Two-time ARBA King Jeremy Collins nails it when he says in the film that the top contestants are all smart kids, and they’ve all done their studying, and so they have really similar scores when it comes down to the interview.  Any one of them “deserves” to win – it’s just a matter of who comes off well to the interview judges.  And even after the interview, the scores between the Queen and 4th Runner-Up are very, very close… in 2008 it was 30 points out of 1000, to be exact.  So if you don’t win, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t good, and it doesn’t mean that you wasted your time. Not at all.

Like the movie says, even when you win, the fame and glory fades really fast: Long-time rabbit breeders see generation after generation of youth go by.  It’s terribly clichéd, but I’ll say it again: the real prize these contests hold out to us is not a tiara, but the person you become while trying to achieve it.  4-H and ARBA Royalty contests really do build confident and capable youth members that will continue to succeed long after they turn 19.

Thanks for this movie, Amy Do.  Nice Job.

And psst, Royalty contestants —  listen closely to Paula Courtney in the film talking about what the judges are looking for in the Royalty interview.  She is dead-on, and shares the most important interview tip I know.

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This post about rabbit color genetics can help you identify the color of the young rabbits in the litters you raise.

Identifying the Junior Oddball

Did you have an “oddball” in your last litter of bunnies?  I call rabbits “oddballs” when they turn out to be a color you didn’t expect and can’t identify.  Our book, “About Bunny Colors” has a whole section about how to identify the junior oddballs — and here’s a quick checklist to point you in the right direction.
odd colored rabbit

“What Color is my Bunny?”  Checklist

[ ] Check the ears—the fur here is short and dense and very useful for telling the color. Agoutis have ear lacing on the outer rim of the ear which is one of the best places to determine the basic (black, blue, chocolate, lilac) color. Agouti and tan pattern markings are easy to spot on the insides of the ears.

[ ] Check the eyes—black based colors usually have dark brown eyes. Chocolates often have lighter brown eyes. Dilute colors have blue-gray eyes. Sable and chocolate colors often show a ruby glow to the eye in correct light. If your rabbit has red eyes, it is a REW or a pointed white. Also, all agoutis and tan pattern colors show light eye circles.

[ ] Check the muzzle—again, dense short fur and a good place to tell basic color. Nostrils show agouti or tan pattern markings.

[ ] Check the triangle—on agoutis and tan patterns, the triangle of color at the back of the neck tells you a lot. First off, if it’s not there at all, the rabbit is a self pattern. If it is orange or fawn, the rabbit has the gene C_. If it’s silver/white, the rabbit is cchd or cchl.

[ ] Check the underside of the tail—Sure place to tell a tan pattern Himie (marten)—if tail is not all colored.

[ ] Blow into the fur—Normal agoutis show ring color, that is, bands of color on each hair shaft that form rings when you blow into the fur. The middle band of the agouti coat is a light color: orange or fawn on C_ based colors, and silver-white on chinchilla or sablebased agoutis.

[ ] Look at the ticking or tipping —  On agoutis, dark ticking is a good way to tell basic color. If tipping is light, your rabbit is a steel or a silver.

[ ] Is your rabbit shaded looking: darkest on the points and over the saddle and lighter on the sides and chest? Does the rabbit show sepia or smoke tint? Suspect the sable gene. Shows even in agoutis.

[ ] Would you describe your rabbit as brindled or having oddly placed dark spots or harlequin markings? Suspect the ej gene.

Click the image below to download the checklist!

rabbit color genetics checklist

Download this checklist to help you identify the colors of your bunnies

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A friend from Down Under sent me these funny photos of the harnesses she makes for competitive jumping bunnies!  She says hopping is really catching on in some parts of Australia… I wish it would here in the US.

Mr. Bentley is so not impressed:
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit in Harness is not impressed


Below: Mini Lop rabbit in dress harness photo

Bunny rabbit lop ear in dress


Credit for the photography and creativity to Mich of Forrest Gait

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We Tweet

By Ellyn | Filed in Uncategorized


Rabbit Smarties is on Twitter. Like, for real!

It’ll be something of a demonstration in how rabbit breeders just think differently than most folks out there.

Sound interesting?  follow @RabbitSmarites

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And a Miniature Horse Logo, too!

We’ve sure been busy with the design work lately!   I’m excited to show you some of the logo and pedigree designs my artist partner and I have come up with.  Also, I’ve got a quick announcement:

The price on rabbitry logos and pedigree designs is going up from $20 to $30.  That’s still pretty reasonable for a hand-drawn logo, but if you want to get the $20 price, please let me know by the end of the week.  The price will go up on Saturday, May 18th.

So, for some custom rabbitry logos and pedigree designs:


Netherland Dwarf Bunnies and Logo

Miniature Horse Farm custom logo design
Custom logo design for a miniature horse farm

custom rusty rabbit pedigree design western
Western rabbitry pedigree design

Tropical Island design

Cute hand drawn rabbit pedigree pastel design

Bunnies in field pedigree design

sunflower rabbit logo
Sunflower rabbit breeder logo and pedigree

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How do you breed your rabbits and take good care of the babies?

It’s guest post day!  Let me introduce you to Sarah from Arizona, a long-time breeder who is also a 4-H judge.  She has a new ebook out called “How to Breed a Rabbit” that she’s giving away free on Amazon.com for a limited time.  I’ve had a chance to take a look at it, and I think Sarah did a good job covering the basics that a new breeder must know.  So, since you’ve all heard from me before,  here’s a few words of wisdom from Sarah:


how to breed a rabbit bookHow to Breed a Rabbit

by Sarah Martin
Have you been thinking about breeding your rabbits? Want a bundle of cute, furry baby bunnies to call your own? Then read on to discover a quick guide to the basics of rabbit mating.

Before Mating

Before you start breeding rabbits you’ll need to make sure you have a few things covered:
–    Why are you breeding rabbits? Be sure that you are ready to find homes for all the babies that you don’t wish to keep and that you have the time/ energy to care of them.
–    Do you have the equipment? All rabbit moms-to-be will need a nest box to build their nest and give birth in. You’ll also want to have plenty of soft hay in that nest box so she can build her nest.
–    Is your doe  ready to breed? Check the genital area of the female rabbit (doe) that you are going to breed: is it’s a little red and swollen? Her behavior should give you a good indicator too. Is she lifting her tail and stretching out when you touch her back? If so then she is probably ready to breed!


To mate your rabbits you should always take the doe and place her in the buck’s cage, not the other way around. (Female rabbits can be very territorial of their space.) Then wait for the buck to mount the doe. Once he’s done his thing he’ll fall off her back and you can return the doe to her cage.
Rebreed the pair that same day to increase the chances of pregnancy. A doe releases her eggs after the first mating so this second time around will give you a better chance of conception. I like to rebreed within one to two hours of the first mating.

The Pregnant Doe

Wait until day 28 after you breed your doe and then give her a nest box stuffed with hay. If she’s pregnant then she’ll start building a nest and, by day 29-35, you should have baby rabbits!

Remember that this is a short article on breeding rabbits and if you want to read more details, check out “How to Breed a Rabbit – The Ultimate Guide to Rabbit Breeding, Baby Rabbits and Rabbit Care”.   I’m offering it for free (yes, totally free!) to help spread awareness and offer guidance on rabbit breeding.  You can download your copy from www.Amazon.com any time starting Saturday May 11th – Wednesday May 15th. Just click on the link above or go to www.Amazon.com and search for “How to Breed a Rabbit” (it’s the one written by me, Sarah Martin).

While you’re online please check out our companion website at www.EverythingRabbit.com.   It’s full of great rabbit articles to check out and you can sign up for our awesome newsletter that covers all sorts of bunny news!

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Looking for ARBA 2013 results?  Find them here:  http://bit.ly/17vzHZC

Date of ARBA convention 2013
Just so I have it written down somewhere easy to find, and so it will maybe help others too, here’s a NOTE TO SELF:

The official dates of the 2013 ARBA National Convention are October 19-23, 2013.

Exhibitors will start to arrive about the 17th.  The set up crew will get there more than a week ahead of time to put up dozens of booths and tables, and cooping for some 25,000+ rabbits and cavies.

Show entry deadline will probably be sometime mid-September.

Youth members: Applications for the Royalty, Achievement, and Management contests need to be in by August 20 (mail in) or September 1 (online entry).  You can get the forms at the ARBA.net youth page.  But you are already studying, right?  If so, our website has tons of study guides and tips to help.  Check out our books and blog.

You can order a convention catalog anytime.  Don’t put it off and then forget!



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Pregnant Rabbit Past her Due Date?

By Ellyn | Filed in Rabbit Care

Pregnant rabbit female building a nest

The calendar says it’s time for your doe to give birth.  She’s even built a nest.  But day 31 hits…and no babies.

What should you do now?

How to help a Pregnant Rabbit go into Labor

What should you do when your rabbit won’t have her babies?  What if she’s already delivered one or two kits, but seems to be retaining more?  Remember, I’m not a vet, but my four suggestions in a situation like this are:

1. Just wait. I’ve had a doe have two babies one day, then two more two days later. It’s not very unusual for a litter to be spread out over a couple days. If she’s not straining, and not over 32 or 33 days, just keep her in a low-stress environment and see what happens.  Also – double-check the due date.  Are you sure you didn’t accidentally count three weeks ahead instead of four on the calendar?

2. Take her out for some exercise. If her body gets active it often brings on contractions. Let her run around your living room or a playpen for an hour or so.

3. Put her back in with a buck. She won’t get pregnant if she is already bred, and the encounter will stimulate hormones that will likely cause her to deliver the litter.

4. Offer her lavender. They say that this will cause a rabbit to go into labor. Never give it to a doe that isn’t full term, as it can cause her to abort.

Some breeders will reach for a drug called Oxytocin when their rabbits are slow to deliver.  I never have.  For one thing, I don’t know where people get it, if not from a vet.  Second — why would you drug your rabbits if you don’t have to?  Rabbits are very sensitive to anything that might upset their digestive system, especially when already stressed from the pregnancy.  Administration of any drug can lead to diarrhea and death in short order.  Third, oxytocin is powerful stuff.  Used incorrectly, it can lead to a ruptured uterus or other big problems.

So that’s why I try one of the four methods listed above.  And you know what?  So far, they’ve always worked.

Stuck kits are another story

The above are the methods I try if a doe isn’t going into labor.  If you have a doe that is laboring, but not delivering; if she has stuck kits, that is another story.  If you give a doe that is already laboring oxytocin, or do something else to make her just “push harder,” this can easily lead to a prolapsed uterus, which is fatal.  If your doe has stuck kits, please refer to this article on the Nature Trail.

Another great idea any time a doe is due to deliver is to give her half a crushed Tums tablet dissolved in her water.  This — or simply a handful of alfalfa hay– will provide the calcium her body needs at a time like this.

Here’s wishing you a healthy doe and plenty of these little things:

Squirmy newborn rabbits


Looking to buy Rabbit Equipment?

We have your rabbit supply needs covered at PremiumRabbits.com!  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 PremiumRabbits.com to see our selection.

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What is 4-H Rabbit Showmanship?

*Click here to download this post as a PDF that you can distribute to your club members*

Rabbit Showmanship is an excellent activity for young 4-H members.  The purpose of the contest is to recognize youth who have taken proper care of their animals, learned important information about them, and become proficient at handling them correctly.  The spirit of friendly competition appeals to kids who thrive on challenge, and 4-H shows offer opportunities for kids to make friends who share their interests.

Unlike ARBA breed classes, which are based solely on a rabbits’ appearance, Showmanship is a team effort between bunny and owner.  To develop a line of show rabbits that will excel in breed classes takes years of trial and error, multiple generations of breeding, and a sizable bankroll.   But all that Showmanship requires is one bunny, the supplies to properly care for it, and a dedicated youth who is eager to learn.

In 4-H Rabbit Showmanship, contestants show off their ability to properly handle and care for their rabbits.  Contestants must demonstrate that they can pick up, hold, and carry a rabbit.  Sometimes they are even required to remove it from a cage.  They must examine it for signs of illness and for ARBA showroom disqualifications.  Judges give points for the cleanliness, health, and condition of the rabbit, as well as for the personal tidiness and professionalism of the contestant.  Lastly, participants must answer verbal quiz questions about rabbit husbandry and their breed’s standard.

The exact guidelines for rabbit showmanship contests vary from region to region.  For example, some counties require the 4-H’er to verbally explain their actions while examining the rabbit.  Other formats expect the exhibitor to be silent unless the judge asks them a question.  But though some of the details are different from place to place, all showmanship formats require the same basics from the contestants.  The tips below will apply to pretty much every 4-H member who hopes to take home the showmanship rosette.


Youth Rabbit Showmanship Contest Tips and Guidelines

  • Take your time.  Showmanship is not a race.  Don’t rush your examination.  If you do, you may forget steps, or even if you do them all, the judge might miss them. Calm and steady wins the prize.
  • If while you’re holding your rabbit upside-down, it flips back on its feet, don’t worry!  Simply turn it back over and pick up where you left off.  You don’t have to apologize to the judge or anything like that.  Don’t act distressed.  It happens.
  • Use a small to medium-sized breed.  We’re talking Dutch, Havana, Mini Rex, Thrianta, Florida White size.  Though many winners have used dwarf or giant breeds, my opinion is that the small-to-medium sized ones work best.  They are small enough to handle without difficulty, but large enough that the judge can see each step clearly.  My state has us “feel the meat” on the shoulders, midsection, loin, and hindquarters separately.  If you ask me, that’s kind of ridiculous on a Netherland Dwarf.

Rabbit showmanship tips

  • Take extra good care of your showmanship rabbit.  Keep his cage clean so there is no chance of him getting dirty from droppings.  Don’t use a white rabbit: he could suddenly pee his coat the day of the contest and you’d be in trouble.  Before the contest, trim his toenails.
  • Trim his toenails.  Trim his toenails.  Trim his toenails.  (Got that?  A lot of kids don’t seem to!)
  • Know your breed’s Standard of Perfection.  This is essential.  Memorize the schedule of points and the min/max/ideal weights.  Know the disqualifications.  It helps if you know other breeds, too, but it’s crucial to know your own very well.
  • Look the judge in the eye when you are speaking to him or her.  Really, this is important!
  • Make sure your rabbit has a legible tattoo in its left ear.  And please, make sure you know what its tattoo is in case the judge asks!
  • If you have long hair, tie it back so it won’t fall in your face.  Do not wear jewelry or sandals.
  • On the day of the contest, keep your rabbit in his cage or carrier as long as possible.  While you are waiting for your turn, don’t hold your rabbit in your arms.  The longer you hold him, the more antsy or hot he may become, and he will be less willing to sit still on the table during the contest.

Click here to download this post in a PDF Format

Click here to download an additional article: “Seven Essential Qualities of a Champion Rabbit Showman”


Get the Extensive Youth Contest Study Guide

Rabbit showmanship 4H study guideIf you liked this article, check out the book  “The Youth Rabbit Project Study Guide” for more like it!  Available from Rabbit Smarties Publishers, this book is written to help young 4-H and ARBA members excel with their rabbit project.  The Study Guide is rich in advice on rabbit care, health, showing, and breeding, and includes expert study tips for contests like 4-H showmanship and ARBA royalty.  Designed to be a 4-H rabbit leader’s aid, the pages may be reproduced for use in a club setting.  Includes an abundance of charts and color photos.  72 pages.  Full Color.  $20.00


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Rabbitry Website Design Service

By Ellyn | Filed in Websites

Here are a couple of rabbitry website designs I haven’t shared with you guys yet.  Both just so happen to be pretty in purple:

First: Linda’s Lovable Lops and Lionheads.

Located in Idaho, this rabbitry specializes in “bunnies that will hug you,” Holland Lops and Lionhead as pets and show bunnies.  Linda also just got some New Zealand rabbits.  If you are from Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, Western Montana, or Southern Canada and are looking for a pet bunny, click the screenshot below to visit the site.

Rabbitry Website design


Mtn View Kritters

Next, if you jump east one state you’ll come to a place I’ve never been, but would love to see: the Montana Rockies.  There you’ll find a rabbitry called Mtn View Kritters.  Autumn @ mountain view raises a variety of breeds including Mini Rex, Holland Lops, and Nethies.   Visit her rabbitry site by clicking the screenshot below.
Rabbitry website design
Thank you, Linda and Autumn, for using our rabbitry website design service!

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Love so Amazing

By Ellyn | Filed in Uncategorized

apple blossom


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ, my God.
All the vain things that charm me the most
I sacrifice them to His blood.

Love so Amazing

When I was an older teen, I had one main goal.  I wanted to do well in ARBA national youth contests, such as achievement and royalty.  And I did pretty well; you can check out the ‘about the author’ page if you’re interested in how I did.  But as hard as I worked for those awards, and as important as they seemed, more and more I realize: they matter very little, if they matter at all.

They don’t matter.  They don’t seal my greatness for a moment, let alone a lifetime.  I went on to fail again and again and again.  For instance, that very moment I was accepting my plaque for runner-up queen, a friend in the audience stuck her tongue out at me playfully.  And without realizing I was on stage in front of hundreds of people, I playfully stuck my tongue out back at her.  That was horrible.

But it doesn’t matter.

And that’s the beauty of life in Christ.  That’s the freedom, the joy, the thrill, the peace.  Jesus matters, not me.  This is what I have come to realize, and this, only this, is worth pursuing.  This, only this, makes me happy.  I am happy!  My focus is not always where it should be, but when it is, I am glad with a gladness that casts out fear, gives me confidence in every situation, and does not let me fall into depression even when I fail.

Christ Jesus took my life into Himself, became my representative.  He took my life — its earthly success and its failure — and nailed it to his cross.  He took my sin, and that sin did to Him what sin must do: produce death.   And with His death, I died.  My life died.    Sin had done its work and was dead.

And being dead, had no more power.

And God still lived.  And now that the requirement of the law had been filled, and sin had gotten what it must get, the story of my life was over.  Then, God gave life anew.  Then, apart from the law, God gave life to the body of Christ, and through Him, to all that are in Him.  And now, through Him I live; and now, nothing but Him and His work matters to me.

And it’s free!  It’s free!  I’m not just talking.  This is a freedom that is new to me, a freedom that I did not know before.  For about two decades I tried to be a Christian.  But there was always something between me and God.  I knew I wasn’t doing it right.  I knew I wasn’t doing enough.

I worked crazy-hard to win those royalty plaques.  I was president of our state youth club.  I hosted meetings and clinics.  I wrote books.  I passed my registrar’s exams.  I spent tons of time and money on raising my rabbits.  I studied the Standard for hours and hours and hours.  I was used to doing whatever it took to get what I wanted.  And maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize that in order to get God’s favor, I had to do nothing.

It’s called love.

It’s called love.  I didn’t know what love was before. I tried for so long to earn love.  But you can’t earn love.  Love exists first, and out of love flows care and kindness.  God Loves, Christ did all for me, and thus I am safe, whether I win the awards or not.  Everything else is fading and partial, but love alone lives and is complete.  Love is all that’s worth pursuing.  Love — that is, working for the good of others no matter how they act in return — is all that matters.

I was always told that God loved me.  But, knowing my own faults, I could not believe it until I understood Christ, who took my sin and made it possible for me to be called God’s own.

We speak often of God, our caring and protective Father.  We speak of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, enlightens and empowers us. But we must first speak of Christ, our Gate, our Mediator, our Shepherd through whom we may call God our Father, and through faith in whom we may receive the Spirit.  We must first know Christ Jesus, in whom hope, gladness, and beauty flows.  Only through Him does the world make sense to me.  Apart from Him, nothing seems to matter.

But in Him, I am discovering, all matters, even the little things.



Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That would be an offering far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my life, my soul, my all.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Romans 5: 10-11

As a postscript, I promise I am not trying to preach at anyone.  This post merely spilled out of me, out of gladness that there’s no reason to keep inside.  If you want to e-mail me about anything I’ve written here, feel free.


By the way – look out for showmanship tips on Sunday!

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News on Rabbit Tattoos

By Ellyn | Filed in Humor, Rabbit Equipment

baby polish rabbits

There’s a New Rule on Rabbit Tattoos

Let’s start with history:

Back in the old days, nearly everybody used clamp tattooers, right?  You pierce the ear, spread ink in the holes, coat it with petroleum jelly and hope you can still see it in two weeks…remember?  In those days, tattoo combinations were fairly limited.  My clamp came with just ten keys: 0-9.  So my bunnies got crazy tattoos such as 589273 and 41835.  Good luck trying to remember those.

Even if you spent the extra money and bought an A-Z set, you still only had one key of each letter and number.  So tattoos such as ABBY, BOOTS, and R2D2 were out of the question.

Another disadvantage was that you were limited to a certain number of characters.  My clamp tongs had room for six characters, but my 4-H leader’s could only take four.

But those, as I said, were the old days.  Like, when we all had dial-up.  Like, before Lionheads got insanely popular. Those days even dated back to the time when 80% of rabbit judges were men.

Today, in this post-post-post-modern era, it’s different.  Today bunnies get tattoos such as these:

rabbit tattoo

rabbit tattoo

rabbit tattoo

Or even:

rabbit tattoo


Tattoos that were perfectly legitimate in the days of clamps turned from this:

rabbit tattoo

to this:

rabbit tattoo

So what brought the change?

Here’s what: someone had an idea.  And ideas change the world.

Someone decided to take an electric toothbrush, replace the bristles with a cluster of needles, and thus produce a hand-held, battery-operated tattoo pen for rabbit breeders.   Brilliant, isn’t it?

I don’t know exactly when they first came on the market, but as soon as they started to catch on, these battery-operated tattooers spread among rabbit breeders as fast as Holland Lops did in the 1980’s.  Now they are much more common than the old clamps.  Even I, bunny budgeter extraordinaire, bought one of these new tattoo pens.  (Well actually, I traded the owner of BunnyRabbit.com some of my books for it…)

Pro’s and Con’s of Hand-held Rabbit Tattoo Pens

Breeders love them, because they don’t seem to hurt the rabbit as much, they take less nerve to use, they produce letters that are solid and small, and they work great for touch-ups.  And, of course, they offer a lot more flexibility.  We rabbit breeders are creative people.  We think it’s fantastic that we can now tattoo our rabbits with:


rabbit tattoo


But many judges and show secretaries are not as thrilled.  Some hand tattoos come out amazing, yes!  Some are much easier to read than clamps, yes!   But some come out looking like my messy handwriting.  Some are so small that judges have trouble reading them.  And the biggest problem with the new tattoos is the very flexibility that we breeders love.  Remember, we live in the post-post-post-modern age…or something like that.   Thus, ARBA registrars and show secretaries use computerized systems to handle their records, and it makes their jobs MUCH easier.  But there’s a catch: how do you enter a tattoo like this into a computer?


rabbit tattoo


And if you were a judge, would you WANT to read a tattoo like that in front of a whole showroom?

I wouldn’t.

Enter a Revised ARBA Show Rule

So the ARBA did something about it.  Just in the last month, the ARBA board approved a change to show rule 26.  According to my district director, the board approved the change unanimously.  And, having been a show secretary myself, I support their decision. It now reads:

SECTION 26. All animals must be permanently and legibly earmarked in the left ear. The tattoo is to only contain numerals 0-9 and/or letters A-Z.  The tattoo is to contain no language of a profane or sexual nature. 

We can do that, right?

By the way, there is still no limit to the number of characters in a rabbit’s tattoo.  However, if you want to be friendly to rabbit software programs, keep it to six or less.

And thus, ARBA has brought us into the post-post-post-post-modern age of rabbit tattoos.   That’s like saying we’re living in the future, isn’t it?


rabbit battery operated handheld tattoo penHey!  While we’re on the subject, check out this new handheld tattoo pen, developed by a tattoo artist with 20 years of experience.  It comes at a good price that includes goodies like All-Natural Bunny Balm to promote healing, and an indispensable ink well holder.  I recommend.
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