Rabbit Rhythms June 2020: Featuring Dutch Rabbits, reasons to attend rabbit shows, wire cages and sore hocks, and updates on Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in the USA.
Our featured breed this month is the Dutch Rabbit! Delve in to this breed's fascinating history, and why it is a delight to raise, yet presents a great challenge for rabbit breeders.
What exactly is the point of rabbit shows? Is it simply a get together of high-end breeders, or is there something more to it?
Wire cages are often viewed as a form of 'cruel' containment because they can injure your rabbit's feet. But: is this really true, or some degree of anthropomorphism?
There's more than just the COVID pandemic going around, there is also a rabbit pandemic known as RVHD2. (Disclaimer: this virus does not affect humans and has nothing to do with COVID-19.) This virus is spreading rapidly in the southwestern United States, devastating rabbit owners everywhere. Update yourself on the latest RHDV2 news below.
The origins of the Dutch breed are relatively unknown, although its earliest history shows that it was most likely a solid color except for two white socks on their front legs. The breed started out relatively large at 9 pounds, almost the size of modern day meat rabbits. It was eventually bred down to a smaller size, some getting as small as 1.25 pounds. The Dutch Rabbit Club was established in 1884 to establish standards that had previously been controversial. The markings and size were standardized in 1880. The Dutch rabbit has not changed since, and was one of the first breeds accepted by ARBA.
The Dutch rabbit is one of the most popular pet breeds. They are a very small rabbit without actually being a dwarf breed. Their standard requires a weight of between 3.5 to 5.5 pounds, with an ideal weight at 4.5 pounds. Their markings are much like the tuxedo cat, but for rabbits, they need a white wrapping all around their front half, except for a black helmet that covers their eyes and ears.
This breed is certainly a delight to care for. Because they have been around so long, Dutch rabbits have amazing personalities. They are both docile and playful, making them some of the best family pets. They also present a good challenge for those who show rabbits, as it is difficult to breed them to the exact standard.
***** Meghan Wonders *****
What’s the point of showing rabbits? I’ve never really understood dog shows, cat shows, rabbit shows, etc. What’s the point of it all?
***** Karen Sez *****
First and foremost, showing rabbits provides feedback to the rabbit breeder so that they can improve and preserve the quality of the rabbit breed as a whole. Going to rabbit shows is much like going to an adjudication. You place your rabbits before a judge who gives you constructive criticism on the attributes of the rabbit, whether excellent or not. The wise breeder returns to his herd and then selectively breeds for the various excellent traits his rabbits need, thereby personally improving the overall genetics of his rabbits. In theory, as more and more people breed for quality, more rabbits will be up to standard with ideal markings, size, weight, and body type.
Secondly, there is something extremely satisfying about having excellent rabbits on the show table. You've honed your understanding of the standard and personally improved your rabbits, and the high quality of your rabbits is the mark of your hard work and effort. As a result, your rabbits become sought after and desirable, which is also extremely satisfying.
Last but not least, it is fun! You have a good excuse to travel to places you would not otherwise travel to in order to attend a rabbit show and compete against breeders you have not previously competed with. The competitive aspect, the pride in it all, and the gain of knowledge and personal improvement make it all an exhilarating experience. It allows you to meet people who share a similar passion in raising rabbits.
Receiving a “Best In Show” award after years of breeding and hard work helps make it worth all the effort.
Oops...! I once mentioned the value of all-wire cages in a forum filled with owners of house rabbit bunnies. I immediately got a litany of reasons why wire cages are the devil:
If you do the research without flatly accepting anthropomorphized opinions, you might be surprised at the many circumstances that can contribute to sore hocks in rabbits, including the carpets in your home. You might also be surprised at all the ways an all-wire cage is actually very healthy for rabbits!
Yes, there are dangers to watch for, but all in all, when well-managed, your rabbit will do very well in an all-wire cage which will cause no undue stress on its feet. Read more at our Rabbit Feet page.
The RHDV2 virus is more threatening to rabbits than COVID-19 is to humans: RHDV2 kills 80-100% of the rabbits it infects.
Even more alarming if possible is that the virus has jumped from feral domestic rabbits in the wild to two additional wild lagomorph species: Cottontails (Silvilagus spp) and jackrabbits (Lepus spp).
When news about rabbits reaches the attention of major publications such as the Smithsonian, New York Times, and Forbes, you know that RHDV2 is a very big deal. Please review the following articles to get an overview of the latest in the spread of RHDV2 in the southwest of the United States and into Mexico.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease gives more scientific info on the threat of RHD and how the virus kills rabbits.
Anybody who cares at all about rabbits would be wise to stay updated about this devastating virus. Because if you don't, and if you take no precautions, soon it'll be your beloved pet house rabbits, or barn full of livestock rabbits, that will suddenly start dying.
The best places for continuing updates in nearly real time are these two FB groups:
Maybe your friends would too...
Your friends at Raising-Rabbits.com wish you a wonderful June 2020.
Enjoy your rabbits!