Archive for the Rabbit Breeds Category

Lionhead Rabbit Breed – A Closer Look

May 5, 2015

Many thanks to Melissa van der Valke of www.LionheadRabbit.com for this article!

A Closer Look at the Lionhead Rabbit

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Many of you might have already heard about a relatively new rabbit breed, the lionhead rabbit. This amazing rabbit breed is becoming more and more popular within the United States and therefore we provide you with a closer look. The breed was officially accepted by the ARBA as a domestic breed of rabbits in February of 2014 and already had a longer history within the United Kingdom.

Different mane types

It is obvious that the reason why this breed differs from others it that lionheads have a wooly mane which makes them unique and appealing. There are however different so called mane types. A lionhead rabbit is either single maned or double maned. This is because of genetics, for example, if your doe is single maned it means that she has one copy of the gene that produces her mane. A double maned doe has two copies. The biggest difference is that double maned lionheads are more covered with wool. In addition, the wool of single maned lionheads might diminish over time. As a result double maned are more popular.

 

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Lionhead rabbit babies at birth

 

Is my lionhead single or double maned?

How do you know whether your lionhead is either single or double maned? You can only find out when your lionhead is becoming full-grown and his mane is developed or at birth. It is very easy to spot whether your single or double maned babies when they are born. If you notice a v pattern at their back they are double maned. If you don’t notice a pattern at all they are single maned.

 

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How to care for a Lionhead

When it comes to caring for lionhead rabbits it is somewhat similar to caring for other rabbit breeds. Provide fresh water at all time, make sure there is enough hay and optionally complement their diet with pellets. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that having a good looking wooly mane also requires some extra efforts. Therefore it is recommended to groom your lionhead on a daily basis. Make sure to visit http://lionheadrabbit.com/rabbit-care/ for more information on caring for these amazing rabbits.

 

Thanks, Melissa!

Tribute to Bumper

May 17, 2012

I got my first bunny on March 25, 2002.    He was Bumper:

opal Mini Rex Buck

Just so everyone knows, I did not pick the name Bumper because it sounded like Thumper.  I picked the name before I even met him, and I didn’t know he’d be gray like Thumper.   I wanted a frisky bunny, one that was always jumping and playing and bumping into things.   I think that was the idea behind “bumper.”

Originally, I didn’t want a rabbit.  I didn’t want anything to do with a rabbit. I had asked for a horse, and a rabbit is not a horse.   Fall of 2001, my Mommy decided that a rabbit was both more economical and practical, and told me to “think rabbit” all winter because we would get one in the spring.

I told her to go away.

At Christmas that year, I got one “early” present:  “Your Rabbit,” a book by Nancy Searle.   All I remember was disappointment.  My mom claims I asked her, “what am I supposed to do with this?”   (Of course, a few months later the book was well worn and highlighted.  Almost six years later I had the opportunity to meet Nancy in person, and she bought a couple of my rabbit books.  That was cool!)

Then came Christmas with the extended family.  There are nine cousins, and we used to do a gift exchange, so the parents didn’t have to buy presents for all nine.   One aunt in particular was known for giving a large batch of presents to whichever cousin her son drew in the exchange.   Everybody liked to get gifts from Aunt Sally.  That year,  Aunt Sally had me.  And I got… a boatload of rabbit stuff.   What a letdown.  She gave me these bags of rabbit food.  They smelled like alfalfa — and to me, that was awful.  They stank up the car on the way home.  They sat in the basement and stank all winter.  I couldn’t believe how bad they smelled.

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So spring comes, and a rabbit starts to sound a little more interesting.   We visited a few local shows.  I wanted a Mini Lop, but my brother wanted a Mini Rex.  I’m glad we went his way.

In mid-March 2002 we visited the home of a well-established Mini Rex breeder here in Michigan.  We came to the house, and she sent her daughter out on her bicycle to the barn, which apparently was some distance away through the woods.   Eventually the girl reappeared, with a rabbit carrier swinging from her bike handle, and a bunny in it.   We were a little concerned at this mode of transit, for the rabbit’s sake, but we needn’t have worried.  That rabbit was FEARLESS.  We took it home.

But it wasn’t Bumper.   That one, a castor Mini Rex, became my brother’s rabbit.  To find me one, we went to the home of a girl who was aging out of 4-H and selling her Mini Rex.  She was really nice and helpful, and showed us around her barn and helped us with some rabbit care tips.  She pointed out several bunnies for sale, but one caught my fancy.  According to her, he was an adult but still young, had pretty good show type, and was more playful than most of them.  My Bumpey.

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Opal Mini Rex

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He never did much in the breed classes, but was my showmanship bun for a time.  He retired early though, and was my little buddy.   Occasionally I would take him to a 4H meeting, but that seemed to make him nervous.  He would snuggle up to me and lick my hands and face.  He didn’t do that at home so much, just while we were in “scary public places.”

I didn’t get into breeding (purebred) Mini Rex, so never used him (*cough* much) as a herdsire.  But I sure loved him.  I’ve often wondered, if I could have only one rabbit, of any I’ve ever owned, which one would it be?  Only one other bunny, Baxter, ever came close to Bump.  I think I’d take them both.

Looking over some of my own writings recently, I came across this note from April 4, 2006.  Pardon the spelling:

Bumper disapeared on April 1st, 2006. I’m not sure he’s dead, but it’s likley I’ll not see him again. I don’t know how it happened. I was letting him run around the yard the day before like I always do, and I distinctly remember putting him back in his cage that day. I remeber because it had been raining and he was muddy. The next day his cage door was open, his feed uneaten, and he was gone.

There was no possible way he could have gotten out of the barn, I checked the inside and the outside: there were no holes. But wherever he is, I think I’ve lost my Bummy.

He never showed up again.

Bumper would be 11 years old today, as old as I was when we met.   Happy birthday, little guy!  I love you still!

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Starting in Show Rabbits – Part 1

April 30, 2012

An Introduction to Raising Show Rabbits

Rabbit shows are judged differently from horse or dog shows.  Instead of taking only 1-3 animals to a show and entering the ring with them one at a time,  the rabbits are placed on a table in front of the judge.  Placements are made based on the rabbit’s physical appearance, not their performance. In order to be successful in showing, you usually have to be a breeder as well as a showman, always producing the next generation of juniors.   You improve your performance on the show table by selecting breeding pairs that will produce offspring with proper body type, color, fur, and condition.  The American Rabbit Breeders Association publishes a book that tells what you should look for in each breed, called the Standard of Perfection.  Of course, it’s always a learning experience and can take a while to understand what the desired traits look like.

Which breed should I choose?

The most common breeds these days are the small ones, because they take less space, less feed, and are the cutest!  I am partial to Polish, but other common breeds include Netherland Dwarfs, Holland Lops, and Mini Rex.  I love Mini Rex as well.  Raising a popular breed has its pros and cons.  You get plenty of competition, which is good when you are winning, but can be frustrating when you are starting out.  A good way to go is to pick a competitive breed, such as Mini Rex, but a less common variety, such as tortoise or chocolate.  Some breeds show all the colors together, such as Holland Lops.  This results in enormous classes, where you’re happy to place in the top 5 of 20.  Some breeds — like Mini Rex, Polish, and Netherland Dwarfs — separate the colors on the show table.

Larger breeds can make excellent show rabbits, as well as provide a meat source for your family.   Medium-small breeds such as Mini Lops and Dutch

Where can I buy show rabbits?

You should definitely go to an experienced show breeder rather than a pet store.  Your  first rabbits don’t have to be from champion bloodlines, but they should be pedigreed.  A rabbit from a pet store will probably not come with a pedigree.  Even if it does, it’s in the pet store for a reason — breeders usually only send rabbits to the pet store that are of little value on the show table or the breeding pen.

How much do pedigreed show rabbits cost?

When buying pedigreed bunnies, you often “get what you pay for.”  In other words, the more you spend, the better chance you’ll have of winning faster — but that’s not always the case.  Unfortunately there are some highly overpriced rabbits out there for sale.   They might have champion parents, but a pedigree doesn’t mean very much if the rabbit doesn’t have desirable characteristics itself.  In other words, buy bunnies — not pedigrees.

At a rabbit show you will find bunnies for sale, usually between $20 and $75 each.  Top quality rabbits of the most popular breeds, such as Netherland Dwarfs, Mini Rex and Hollands, can sell for as much as $200 and up.  Is a rabbit ever worth that much?  That’s a topic that breeders often debate, and I will probably blog about sometime. I do not recommend spending that much initially.  You should be able to get a nice quality starter herd for $150 to $200, maybe even less.  Often breeders will give you a discount if you buy more than one from them.  In fact, there are several good reasons to buy your stock from the same person.  When you buy rabbits from the same line, there’s less chance that you will get unexpected results in the litters due to the hidden genes from mating two totally unrelated rabbits.  It’s definitely a good idea to buy a trio from the same established breeder.

How many should I start with?

I think a good number to start with is a trio — two does and a buck — or two pair.  That way you can show the buck(s) and put the does into breeding.  Or, if you start with a pair of seniors and a pair of juniors, you can breed the senior doe and show the juniors, to see see how things go.

Always start small and grow as you learn.   Many breeders, I could probably safely say most breeders, go through a period where they sell off most of their stock and restart their herds, because they have by that time learned what to look for in show rabbits, and know that their herd isn’t what it should be.  It’s much easier to start over if you only have 10 rabbits than if you have 30 or 50!  If after a year or so you decide that breeding rabbits isn’t what you want to do, you don’t have so many to care for or try to sell.

Part 2 will cover what to look for when purchasing your starter stock.

 

Information on the Silver and Silver Fox Rare Rabbit Breeds

February 27, 2012
Featured Article- There is a breed called the SIlver

 

If I may state a humble opinion, I think that the most under-appreciated breed in the United States is the Silver.  Nope, not the Silver Marten.  Not the Silver Fox.   The Silver.

I got my first Silvers in 2004.  Since then, I have met many rabbit exhibitors who are not aware that this breed exists.   I’ve seen them missing on lists of breed on different websites.   Sometimes, if I mention that I raise silvers,  people take it to mean Silver Foxes or Silver Martens.  Those are both cool breeds, but I’m talking about something entirely different.  It weighs about five pounds.  It comes in three colors, each interspersed with glittering white hairs.  It’s built like a rock; feels like no other rabbit I’ve touched.  Its fur is short and sleek and snappy.  It’s a Silver.  Would you like to see one?

Silver Rabbit

 

A Rare Breed In Danger

Despite the fact that the Silver has been known as a breed since the sixteenth century, in America today this unique rabbit is in danger of extinction.  The Silver is recognized as threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.   This means that there are currently fewer than 100 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population is less than 1,000. [Source: ALBC]

I’ve served as the National Silver Rabbit Club’s webmaster for over six years.  Seeing this club from the inside, I’m even more concerned about the future of this breed.  The Silver, yes absolutely, has a following of die-hard breeders.  The problem is, most of these breeders are in their 60’s and 70’s.  I don’t see much of a younger generation raising this breed.  The heritage breed enthusiasts in this country are eagerly promoting rare rabbits such as the American and the Blanc de Hotot, but the Silver seems to slide under many people’s notice.

Silver-Fox-Marten: Is there a difference?

 

So what are the differences between the three breeds with “Silver” in their name?  Let’s start by setting aside the Silver Marten: (more…)