- American rabbit lifespan: 8 - 12 years
- Average weight: average 9 - 11 lb. (bucks 9-11 lb., does 10 – 11 pounds.)
- Purpose: meat and fur. You can also have it as a pet.
- Size: Medium-sized to large
- Who can have them: Singles, couples, families with older children and seniors (since they are not very active).
- Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus (often referred to as European wild rabbit).
History and origin
The American blue rabbit, initially known as German Blue Vienna (a name that was dropped after World War I) was developed by in 1917 by Lewis H. Salisbury who hailed from Pasadena, California. The ARBA recognized it the same year, and it is the second breed to be developed in the US after the New Zealand Red.
Secretive to his work, Lewis H. Salisbury did not reveal the breeds he crossed. However, from its body type, it is believed to have been bred or owe its heritage to the Vienna, Imperial, Beveren, and Flemish Giants rabbits. Unfortunately, with the extinction of the Imperial bunnies, it is not possible to replicate it.
Later in 1925, a white-colored variety, the American White rabbit got ARBA’s recognition. It was developed by breeding the white mutants and Flemish Giants to get this red-eyed white (REW) bunny.
Although there are white-eyed rabbits that are considered sports (i.e., because of defective replication of chromosomes that results in a mutation where the parent and the offspring have a different physical appearance and genetic resemblance) that are not recognized by the ARBA and cannot be shown.
Colors, size, and appearance
These are large rabbits with a semi-arch or mandolin shape and a longer loin compared to the commercial body type rabbits like Californian or New Zealand rabbits.
They can be described as “long in the body, topline starting behind the shoulder, rising high over the hindquarter and down again, with a wide meaty loin” (source - Rabbitgeek.com).
Also, these bunnies have a narrow head with ears that are proportional in length and tapers to a point.
To help you distinguish them, they must be put on different posing positions to show their body length and their highest arch which is over their hips.
They weigh 4 - 5½ kgs making them medium to large-sized rabbits with the bucks slightly smaller than does. Does weigh between 10 -12 lbs and bucks 9 -11 lbs. Intermediate bucks should not be more than 10 lbs and does not more than 11 lbs. Both the junior does, and bucks should not be under 4.5 pounds.
The American rabbit comes in two main recognized colors, the blue and white colors. The blue color was the first one to be recognized by ARBA in 1917 as the one with the “deepest, and the darkest fur of all blue or grey rabbits” (Source - Wikipedia.org), unlike the Beveren breed which has a lavender color.
Later as seen, the REW was developed with a white coat and red eyes (albino rabbit)
This bunny has a short commercial flyback (goes back to its original position should you stroke in an opposite the natural direction of its growth) type of coat that is soft and fine. Its texture is silky
Are they rare?
Up and until the 1950s, both the Blue and White American rabbit breeds were considered among the top six most popular bunnies for fur and meat.
However, with the emergence of New Zealand and Californian breeds which were commercial rabbits, their demand began to decline.
By the 1980s, they were among the rarest breeds in North America, listed in the critical category among the rarest breeds by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC), Conservancy Priority List with less than 200 known.
With the resurgence of their population by 2012, the ALBC now considers them as threatened (less endangered). This followed the discovery of the Hutterite farming community located in Alberta, Canada that had about 40 White American rabbits (imported from the US in the 1920s) and the efforts by US breeders of shipping breeding stocks all over the US.
They are also part of the Slow Food USA project under Ark of Taste, Meat, and Poultry. Many Americans now rear them mainly as a homestead rabbit bread or for their heritage.
Many breeders have noted the fact that this bunny is easy to dress, and its meat is lean and of high quality, i.e. less greasy when compared to most of the commercial rabbits.
Note: The American rabbit should not be confused by what some American breeders refer to the “mutt” or mixed breeds.
Caring for the American bunnies
Rabbits are clean animals that self-groom. In case they are dirty, do not wash or bathe your bunnies it as it stresses them and could even trigger a cardiac arrest. Instead, you can spot-clean it with a damp towel.
To keep them clean, it is advisable to brush your bunnies a few times in a month. However, during shedding (molting), you can increase the number of times brush them.
Outdoor cages should be weatherproof as well as able to protect your bunny from predators such as birds, raccoons, wild dogs, and so on.
If possible, have a fenced area in your backyard where your rabbits can go and play. Also, create sometimes to stroke them, especially on their head and cheeks as this will make them enjoy your companion as well as grow a bond with you.
Finally, ensure you give them enough food which will consist of hay and high-quality pellets (over 80% hay). Fresh vegetables and fruits will also be an excellent additive to their diet in small amounts.
If you do not plan to breed them, let your vet spay your does and neuter your bucks at ages 6 months and about 4 months respectively.
These bunnies do not have a unique vulnerability to a particular disease except for the normal ones that affect most rabbits such as calicivirus, uterine tumors, and myxomatosis among other rabbit diseases.
Ensure you check for overgrowth teeth mainly triggered by wrong diets (low fibers and hay). In case they are overgrown, increase hay such as Kaytee Timothy Hay, and also give your bunnies some safe pieces of wood, basket straws, gnaw toys to help wear their teeth down.
Finally, wool blocks or hairballs due to the accumulation of ingested fur as your bunny grooms itself is possible. You will notice a reduced appetite, or your rabbits not eating at all, fewer and smaller droppings with some of them clumped together with fur and weight loss. Talk to your vet for help.
Temperament and behavior
This docile rabbit is sweet with great mothering abilities. It is friendly to its owners though not very active. Don’t expect them to do a lot of hopping in your backyard.
If they have not been raised around people, they can be a little skittish, especially if someone does not know how to handle them gently. This happens when they get scared. Hence they become defensive and may nibble the person who scared them.
American rabbits for sale and prices
As you have noted, these bunnies are not so many. Therefore, it is not easy to get some for sale. Some of the places you can find them include:
Additional you can search for them online using major search engines like Google and Bing and state your location.
If you get one, expect to pay anything from $25 to $100. Purebreds and pedigreed bunnies will cost much more, typically from $50 to $100+.
Finally, if you want them for breeding, they give birth to a large litter averaging between 8 to 10 kits, and they grow quickly reaching the market weight fast.