American rabbits are among the rarest bunnies in the United States. They are famous for their blue coats and even-tempered personality. Initially bred for their meat and fur, they are considered one of the best rabbit pets. This blog post will teach you the care needs of an American rabbit breed. Keep reading to know more!
Facts about American Rabbits
Medium to Large
9 lbs to 12 lbs
8 to 12 years
Blue and White
Florida White, Polish Rabbit
Best Suited for
Singles and couples living in apartments, first-time owners
Background and History of American Rabbits
Domestic rabbits became popular in the 1900s for meat and fur production. Soon, the rabbits with blue coats became of great interest to American breeders. Thus, they started to develop breeds with perfect blue coats. However, it wasn’t easy to achieve since most of the bunnies they bred had brown patches and white hairs.
But through Lewis H. Salisbury of Pasadena, California, the American Rabbits were developed. Salisbury was secretive about the breeds he paired up with. Breeders guessed it came from Blue Beveren, Blue Vienna, and Blue Flemish Giant.
In 1918, the National Breeders and Fanciers Association of America recognized the breed. A white variety appeared after pairing up the American Blue and White Flemish Giant in 1925. Because of its coat, the breed became famous between the 1920s and 1940s. Fanciers were willing to pay $2 for a good pelt and $25 for a breeding-age doe. But in the 1950s, the breed’s popularity declined after other bunnies were imported.
Unfortunately, the population of the breed dropped in 1980. Although hardy, the American Livestock Breeds Conservatory considered the breed rare. In 2004, ARBA expelled the white variety from the active list. In 2005, the Conservancy declared the breed as “Critical”. But it was downgraded to “Threatened” after some breeders shipped breeding stock.
Features of American Rabbits
An American Rabbit breed has a semi-arched body, making it look alert and active. It is larger than standard-sized rabbits. Bucks can weigh between 9 lbs to 11 lbs. While does can grow between 10 lbs to 12 lbs. Unlike commercial breeds, it has a long loin with a muscular frame. The ears of this breed are narrow, tapered, and proportionate.
Although this breed has a limited variety, it has soft, delicate, and silky flyback fur that is easy to groom. Moreover, the blue American has the most profound and darkest fur of all blue rabbits. On the other hand, the white variety has white fur with red-colored eyes. Although different colors may appear, they are not recognized by ARBA. These varieties are known as “sports”.
Temperament and Behavior
Besides its coat, an American rabbit breed is desirable because it’s easygoing. It is one of the breeds that won’t demand too much attention from its owners. In fact, it is a bunny that can quickly adapt to city life. Hence, it is an ideal pet for singles or couples living in an apartment.
This breed also has a good mothering ability. It can produce large litters and give all the needed care for the babies. American rabbits are good foster mothers for other rabbit breeds. If it is your first time getting a pet rabbit, this breed can suit you since it is hardy and docile. Since it is an intelligent breed, you can teach it tricks like potty training and walking on a leash.
However, these furry pets are unsuitable companions for families with small children. They can be skittish to those who cannot handle them properly and confidently. Small kids are also prone to drop them because of their large bodies. An American rabbit breed may bite the kids’ tiny hands due to their inability to handle the bunny well.
Grooming American Rabbits
Since American rabbits have short, soft fur, grooming them is not difficult. You can use a slicker brush to comb its fur and remove the loose hairs at least once or twice a week. If your pet is shedding, you must groom it more often to prevent it from ingesting its fur. If your bunny has tangled and matted fur, you can use a mat rake to fix its coat.
Rabbits tend to get dirty since they love to play outside their cages. Never bathe your bunny if you notice dirty spots on its coat. Bunnies exposed to extreme temperatures may suffer from hypothermia or heart attack. Furthermore, rabbits’ coats are difficult to dry, so they become prone to flystrike.
Aside from brushing your bunny’s coat, you must also trim its nails once a month. Long and bent nails may cause injuries and accidents to your pet. If you don’t know how to cut your pet’s coat, don’t hesitate to bring your pet to a groomer. But if you want to try, getting a partner would make it easier for you to do the job. Remember, never trim the nails too short since the quick may bleed. You must also ensure that your rabbit is calm to prevent it from kicking and hopping.
Keeping your pet’s teeth trimmed is also vital to its health. Overgrown teeth can cause wounds to your pet’s cheek and tongue, affecting its overall health. Giving your bunny enough fiber can make its teeth strong and trimmed. You can also provide chew toys and twigs for your bunny to help cut teeth.
Like other breeds, American rabbits need a proper diet to live longer. They need an unlimited amount of hay daily to have good digestion. Fiber, like hay, helps improve the gut’s motility, making it easier for your pet to pass its stool. It also trims your bunny’s teeth, preventing malocclusion.
Hay must comprise 70% to 80% of your bunny’s diet. Different types of hay are available, so you must choose the best one. For young bunnies, you can give them alfalfa hay. But after they become adults, replace it with timothy hay. Alfalfa is not suitable for adult rabbits since it is rich in calcium. Feeding too much calcium to your pet is dangerous to its health.
Besides hay, you can also give leafy greens to your pet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, keeping your pet strong and healthy. When introducing new leafy greens to your pet, only give them in small amounts. Observe if your pet has a wet stool or not. If the stool becomes wet, stop feeding the leafy green to your bunny.
You can also give it some treats to add variations to your bunny’s diet. However, you should not feed it sugary foods since they may cause an imbalance in your pet’s guts. You can give it with a slice of fruit such as an apple (with no seeds), berries, and melon.
A good living condition is necessary for an American rabbit breed to live happily. Putting your pet in an unsuitable hutch can result in stress. Its enclosure must be large enough for the bunny to stretch out and hop comfortably. In addition, it must have complete supplies inside its hutch, such as a water bottle and a food bowl.
As much as possible, the hutch must be well-ventilated. A closed cage without enough air can make your pet suffer from heatstroke. Unlike cats, rabbits’ paws don’t have pads. Thus, they are prone to sore hocks, especially if the cage’s flooring is made of wire. To prevent this from happening, ensure that the hutch has solid flooring.
If you plan to keep your pet outdoors, it is vital to place its cage in a safe area. It must be in a spot where there is enough shade. Also, ensure that the enclosure is sturdy enough to protect your bunny from predators. Since rabbits fear loud noises, you must place the enclosure far from busy roads.
For indoor rabbits, you must keep your home rabbit-proof. Place the cables and wires where your pet cannot reach them. You can also rearrange the pieces of furniture to prevent your bunny from biting them. If you have toxic household plants, put them outside your house or on a high stand.
Health Issues of American Rabbits
An American rabbit breed is a hardy pet. But it can experience health issues that are common to most rabbits. One of these is flystrike. It is a condition wherein flies lay eggs on the rabbit’s fur or skin. Once the eggs hatched, the maggots would feed the rabbit’s skin. Because of the extreme pain, a bunny may experience shock, leading to death.
This condition is more common during summer. Symptoms of flystrike include lethargy and the presence of maggots on the bunny’s skin or fur. You may also observe that your pet loses its appetite and decreases weight. It may also be digging into the corner because of too much pain.
If your bunny has a flystrike, you must bring it to the vet within 24 hours. The vet may give antibiotics to your pet to prevent infection. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed.
A sore hock is a condition wherein the base of the foot is inflamed due to pressure. It may only start as a skin problem. But if left untreated, it may affect other tissues, such as tendons. An overweight rabbit is more prone to sore hocks. Hutches with hard surfaces may also damage and infect the bunny’s feet.
To treat sore hocks on your pet, topical ointment can be applied to protect the feet from more infection. The vet may also provide your pet with an appropriate diet to help it lose weight. Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers may also be prescribed for your bunny. If the feet are severely damaged, the activity of your bunny must be restricted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are American rabbits suitable pets for first-time owners?
Yes. American rabbits are easy to groom because of their short, soft fur. Aside from that, they are hardy bunnies, so they don’t need special care. Since they are calm and docile, you can quickly get along with them. Unlike other rabbit breeds, they also don’t demand too much attention from their owners.
Does an American Rabbit breed quickly get along with small children?
Although an American Rabbit breed is docile, it is not a suitable pet for small kids. This breed may bite if not handled properly. Because of children’s small hands, they are prone to mishandle large bunnies.
American rabbits are unique because of the color of their coats. Although they are hardy bunnies, they must be taken care of properly. These rabbits are already rare, so you must give them the love and attention they need. Providing them with a proper diet and suitable hutch to live longer can help.