There is this trend around Christmas and Easter to impulsively adopt pets like dogs, cats, bunnies, and chicks. When young, these animals are impossibly cute so it’s easy to see why so many would want puppies, kittens, chicks, and bunnies around. But adopting an animal on a whim is not something you should do. These animals are a commitment, one that may even last for two decades!
If you are thinking about adopting a bunny as an Easter gift, be sure to do your research! These animals have specific needs and care for them takes time. They also have a lifespan of 5-15 years so make sure you’re ready for a long commitment before getting a rabbit. Domestic rabbits come in an array of breeds with different colors, sizes, shapes, and coat types. The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes roughly 47 different rabbit breeds, including the Alaska, Angora, Cashmere Lop, Dwarf hotots, and English Lop.
These rabbits are known for their pure black fur and dense coats. They came from a crossbreeding of Dutch, Himalayans, Champagne d’Argents, and Havanas, which was an attempt to get a domesticated rabbit that was similar to the Alaskan fox, which is where this rabbit eventually got its name. Alaska Rabbits are social, gentle, and affectionate rabbits that would make great pets for families. They tend to be medium in size (7-9 pounds once fully grown) and have a lifespan of 7-10 years.
There are five main types of angora rabbits: the English, French, Satin, Giant, and German. These rabbits are particularly known for their beautiful wooly coats, making them popular among homesteaders, fiber artists, and 4H groups. The English angora is the smallest of this breed, weighing 5-6 pounds when fully grown. Daily grooming is necessary for them to prevent matting and to keep their coat clean. They’ll produce 10-16 ounces of wool each year when you collect all the wool after brushing.
For those who hand-spin wool, the next two rabbit breeds would be great to have. French angoras have more guard hairs than wool and can produce up to a pound of wool each year. This wool is particularly great for hand-spinners and these rabbits naturally molt, meaning you can just harvest their wool by plucking what’s shed. Satin angoras are actually a cross between French angora and a satin rabbit. Their coats have a great shine to it and their wool is dense, making it easy to spin into yarn. Like the English angora, satin angoras produce 10-16 ounces of wool each year.
The last two rabbit breeds are the largest of angoras and produce the most wool every year. Giant angoras are, as you might imagine, the largest angoras and weigh at least 9-10 pounds. They can produce one to two pounds of wool each year but giant angoras don’t naturally shed and need to be hand sheared. Lastly, German angoras look very similar to Giant angoras because they are also large (weighing 7-12 pounds) and incredibly fluffy. These rabbits can actually produce 2.5-4.5 pounds of wool each year!
Cashmere Lop Rabbits
These rabbits are medium-sized, often weighing 4-5 pounds with a compact body shape. Cashmere lops are relatively new as a breed and are descendants of dwarf lops. But unlike dwarf lops, cashmere lops have thick, long, elegant coats that are usually 1.5-2 inches long. Regular grooming with a wire comb is important for these rabbits, as their coats can get matted and knotted. Brushing a cashmere lop is more about breaking up tangles and mats rather than thinning the coat out. Cashmere lops are great family pets and do well with adults and older children, as they’re friendly, smart, and playful!
Dwarf Hotot Rabbits
These rabbits are energetic, affectionate, and small. In fact, they usually only weigh 2.5-3.5 pounds once fully grown! Dwarf hotots have white coats and a ring of black around their eyes, which looks like eyeliner. Like any other rabbit, regular grooming is important for this breed to keep their coats healthy and prevent the rabbits from ingesting too much hair (as rabbits can’t vomit!). If properly socialized as a kit, these rabbits won’t mind being handled by adults and older children and can be very friendly! Because they’re so small, they don’t need a huge cage but benefit from some regular time out in a rabbit-friendly room.
English Lop Rabbits
This breed’s defining characteristic is their incredibly big, floppy ears. Their ears actually can grow up to 32 inches/81 centimeters long and because of that length, English Lops need plenty of space to avoid stepping on their ears. These rabbits are actually the original lop-eared rabbits and have been raised in England since the mid-19th century. English lops make great pets and great show rabbits. They’re friendly animals that don’t need as much grooming as other breeds. However, their long ears need plenty of care to stop them from getting injured or frostbite.
There are 47 different types of rabbit breeds out there, including the five above! Rabbits need regular care, including plenty of space, special food, grooming, social interaction, and toys. While these animals seem hardy, they’re actually quite delicate and wouldn’t do well in homes with small kids, as a young kid’s intense energy might be stressful for the rabbit. They might also get scared when picked up suddenly and because of their delicate bones, could break their spine or neck if they fall to the ground. Rabbits are also prone to stress-related illnesses and shock so avoid stressful events and a sudden drop in temperature.
Rabbits are incredible animals and there are so many wonderful types! If you’re a fiber artist (like a spinner or knitter), an Angora rabbit might be a great companion, as these animals can produce up to 4 pounds of wool each year. But Angoras do require plenty of care, including almost daily brushing to make sure their coats don’t mat. And if you have a family, a cashmere lop might be the perfect rabbit for you. But these animals aren’t ones you can just get on a whim. They require a lot of care and need plenty of space, resources, and love.
Do you have a pet rabbit? Let me know in the comments!