Welcome to the February 2022 edition of Rabbit Rhythms!
This month's Breed of the Month is the New Zealand rabbit, which comes in five different varieties. Should you get one? We share some details that you may not have realized.
The New Year is several weeks old, and there are still several months of cold weather ahead. Consider purchasing warm sweatshirts branded with the Raising-Rabbits logo and ultra-cute bunnies!
And lastly, help your school-age kids take advantage of their interest in rabbits by focusing their school essays on rabbits! Raising-Rabbits is stuffed full of fascinating info about rabbits from which they could draw.
G’Day mates! Our February Breed of the Month is the New Zealand rabbit. What the Fluffle Rabbitry in North Carolina has all 5 varieties of New Zealand: Red, White, Blue, Black, and Broken.
New Zealands are a great choice of rabbit breed whether your family is looking only for a furry friend, or whether you are interested in homesteading. (This article does contain content about commercial uses for rabbits as livestock.)
Surprisingly, New Zealands are 100% American and 0% Kiwi! For an afternoon movie, you’re much more likely to see them tuning in to a John Wayne western than to Crocodile Dundee.
In the early 1900s, Belgian Hares were all the rage in USA, and rabbit ranchers began crossing them with Flemish Giants to produce a great meat rabbit. They had a gorgeous red color, so they were initially dubbed American Reds. At the same time, rabbits from New Zealand were imported, so an urban legend of this new American/New Zealand breed spread around. When ARBA officially recognized them, a vote on the name of the new breed was held and “New Zealand” won.
In the 1800s and early 1900s, rabbits were very common as livestock that could provide steady meat and fur for winter wear. American weather is often described as “able to kill bacteria,” so fur use from livestock was critical. This is why rabbit ranching is still a staple in rural life.
Rabbits are ready to harvest much faster than cows and pigs, don’t require the same space, and provide fur, unlike chickens. At ARBA competitions, standards emphasize quality meat. New Zealands breed much more often than larger livestock, and they are a hardy species with good size litters. They enjoy good health and are relatively easy to care for.
(Pictured: ARBA rabbit shows often include "meat pens." The purpose is to help the meat rabbit breeder to recognize and develop uniformity in the animals that will go to market. The winner of the meat pen competition will have presented three rabbits of a prescribed age that are very nearly identical in body composition and weight.)
New Zealands started out with just one variety: red. New Zealand Reds have a vibrant reddish coat with a cream belly and brown eyes.
But then a rabbit breeder in 1917 had a doe that produced a litter of albinos, 3 does and one buck. The breeder made the most of the situation, quickly producing more. Albinos are white all over with ruby-pink eyes. REW-NZ stands for Ruby Eyed White New Zealand, not a loud nineties rock band.
While New Zealands were bred primarily as livestock, they have docile, even temperaments and are affectionate, so they can make good pets. They are curious but calm, and do well as indoor or outdoor pets. (Our e-book, Ideal DIY Rabbit Cages, has everything you need to know about creating and building great indoor and outdoor living spaces for rabbits.)
New Zealand does should max out at 12 pounds, a little bigger than bucks with a max weight of 11 pounds. They have upright ears and “flyback” fur, meaning that if you blow or brush the fur in a different direction than the natural lay, it will immediately return.
If you are zealous about New Zealands and want to learn more, check out our e-book, Domestic Rabbit Breeds. All of our e-books are still 30% off with our New Year sale.
As you put away your Christmas sweaters, you realize you’re short on fun winter wear.
Raising-Rabbits has its own sweatshirts and hoodies to help keep you toasty warm on cold days. They are good quality, nice and thick, AND pre-shrunk. That means the size you buy is the size it stays. (Mine has gone through the wash multiple times and it is still beautiful AND the same size.)
For those of you who had a green Christmas, it is hard to go wrong with our men’s and ladies T-shirts. You can check it all out in the Bunny Bazaar, our online shopping mall. We also have tons of other rabbit inspired fashions, robes, slippers, silly socks, and more! Check out our BUNNY BAZAAR!
As the Winter/Spring semesters begin, you get a whole syllabus of new assignments. Your teacher tells you, “Start thinking about your topics for your essays now!”
Teachers have seen the same subjects rehashed for years and even decades, so they love new topics. Some teachers even give a list of topics that students aren’t allowed to pick because they are tired of seeing them.
What if you could make your work stand out with unique material - rabbits!
There are dozens of recognized breeds, and they come in a huge range of colors, patterns, and sizes! From the tiny Netherland Dwarfs that share clothes with large hamsters, to the Giants that stop people dead in their tracks -- “I thought that was a dog!” -- rabbits come in a huge variety. You could spend your entire semester on rabbit essays, never repeat a single fact, and give your teachers new content that they will actually enjoy reading.
Raising-Rabbits has hundreds of pages of information, plus our books and e-books go into even more detail. If you need pictures for your topic, just contact us for permission to use ours. Recently we had a veterinary student in Finland use one of our pictures for her doctoral thesis.
Make those good grades by covering new information!
Maybe your friends would too...
Your friends at Raising-Rabbits.com wish you a fabulous February 2022!
Enjoy your rabbits!