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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Polly wants a cracker... » » True small rabbit? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daffydoug
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Over the years, I purchased and kept several rabbits for my show, but one small problem. Actually, one BIG problem. Every breeder that sold me rabbits assured me that they would stay small. That never proved to be true. They all grew much too large to use in the show. And over the years, they cost me hundreds of dollars in feed and hay and etc. All that for rabbits that only ended up being pets. So once and for all, could someone please settle this for me. What exactly IS the breed of rabbit that truly remains small? I'm tired of being fooled.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
David Bilan
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From the justrabbits website:

Dwarf rabbits have a small, compact body a short neck and a rounded face. They can vary in size and weight but a dwarf bunny usually weighs between 1.5 to 3.5 lbs.

There are several different breeds of dwarf rabbits including Britannia, Petite and the Dwarf Hotot but the most popular breed is the Netherland.

Like you, I've picked up "dwarf rabbits" only to have them grow too large to use. This is even after seeing the parents.

The dwarf gene is relatively easy to explain. Each rabbit has two size genes, one dominant and one recessive.
When a male and female rabbit reproduce, each parent will pass one size gene to each of their offspring.
The dwarf gene is a dominant gene so one dwarfing gene will create a dwarf rabbit. However, if the rabbit baby gets two dwarf genes, one from each parent, it will die.

If this happens it is commonly called a 'Peanut' - a dwarf rabbit with two dominant dwarf genes.
There needs to be one normal size gene as a recessive backup for a dwarf rabbit

On average, breeding dwarf rabbits is a 50-50 shot. Picking up bunnies at the farmer's market or the pet store is like playing Russian Roulette, except you are more likely to NOT get a true dwarf.

The key to success is finding a breeder in your area who shows dwarf rabbits. These are folks who work to keep the breeds true. You probably won't find a true dwarf for $10, but if you talk to the breeder about what you need (small, healthy, food disposition), they might have "pet quality" bunnies that cost less than champion rabbits.

As part of the discussion, you can ask about swapping out if they turn out not to be true dwarves. You can always look to buy the bunny when it's older, but you then run the risk of an un-socialized rabbit.

My New Year's goal is to pick up a couple of Dwarf Hotot rabbits. White with a ring around the eye and they will fit in the palm of your hand.

In addition... I asked my breeder if I was right. Here is her response:

From Amy:
To: Dave

Dwarf rabbit: Dwdw

Breed two dwarfs you get 25% normal, 50% dwarf, 25% peanut (nonviable)

As young babies there is really no way to tell a normal from a dwarf and the normals will weigh a bit more full grown. Usually within show limits for the breed, but will be larger. So of the viable babies, one of every three is going to be a "normal". There is zero way to determine this as babies but should be apparent by 4 months or so.

-Amy

There you have it.... Wait 4 months.

Hope this helps. Smile
Yes, I am a magician. No I did not make my hare (hair) disappear... it just took early retirement.
David Bilan
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I don't know everything... My expert rabbit breeder added more info that's worth a read:

From Amy:

You definitely do NOT want a petite. They are notorious for nasty attitudes and are very nippy. There may be the rare more tame line, but think of them like the Mals of the bunny world.

My guess is most get a dwarf from a pet store (ha!). That never works.

There are many dwarf breeds but not all are small. Holland Lops, for example, are dwarf but are often close to 4 pounds.

In addition, "mini" is not dwarf, nor are mini-anythings small. They are simply smaller versions of another breed. Sometimes with the dwarf gene sometimes not, but they are not small rabbits either way. A mini rex is going to still be 4-5lbs. A mini satin is closer to 7lbs. Again, often a pet store ploy is put mini in front of the name. Never buy into that.

Also your Livestock trader group on Facebook or Farm listings on Craigslist should just be ignored. 99% postings there are mutts or basically the bunny version of a "puppy mill".

Bottom line: go to a reputable breeder registered with the ARBA, or even hop by a rabbit show (listed on ARBA sites).

Netherland Dwarfs (ND) are going to be your smallest around 2lbs. Dwarf Hotots (DH) more 2.5 but you get consistent coloring and white rabbit without evil red eyes. (There are blue eyed white NDs but it is one of the rarest colors so expect to pay no less than $100 for one - if you can even find some in your area). Lionheads and Jersey Woolies can be pretty small under their fluff but size varies more, 2.25-3lbs. Careful breeder/line selection can help there if fluff is your desire but with the fluff comes extra care. And one butt ugly bunny when moulting.

Sadly I have to rebred, no viable litters. Got stuck with peanuts this round.

Otoh I have six baby Bruns if you want big ones LOL!

I wouldn't say the DH - or NDs for that matter - fit in palm of your hand unless you have rather large hands! There are no breeds *that* tiny. But with my small feminine hands I can easily grab them in a safe and proper shoulder-lift grab.

-Amy
www.amysrabbitranch.com Smile
Yes, I am a magician. No I did not make my hare (hair) disappear... it just took early retirement.
Dick Oslund
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Hey!

Thanks David! A most informative and interesting post! Way back in the spring of 1945, I was 13. I was given two little beasts! I built a cage in the back yard. One turned out to be a "Flemish GIANT". The other, though not a giant, was big. The war wasn't over. Meat was rationed. Yes. We had them for Sunday dinner.

When Stan Payne brought out "Oscar the air spring bunny", about 1951, I invested. I used him/her for years. No feed bill!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
David Bilan
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I bought a stuffed bunny at an after Easter sale and used it for a few years. Then I got a rescue dog who took a fancy to the bunny and stole it. He pulled off the eyes and made it his own. After he's been outdoors for a while, he'll come in, grab the stuffed bunny and "kill it" with a few shakes. Then he lays down and uses it as a pillow.
Yes, I am a magician. No I did not make my hare (hair) disappear... it just took early retirement.
daffydoug
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I appreciate the sage advice here! This is all very helpful!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Rook
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Just to add a bit of redundancy here. My wife breeds rabbits (including Brits, Netherlands, and Lops). Of all the dwarf rabbits, NDs seem to be the most poplar because they are the smallest with most even temperament. A Brit *can* be calm, but that nasty reputation is well-earned and requires a great deal of handling and training. Even then, it's kind of a crap shoot IMO. To also reiterate...if you're concerned with being absolutely certain about a guaranteed size, you'll want to be sure you're getting a true dwarf. If that's the case, you'll want to go with an ARBA breeder, ask for near-show quality (the head-shape, ear legnth, etc., probably won't be that important to you, but size will), get a Pedigree, and prepare pay a bit of money. I might recommend that you look for a male also. The female Netherlands tend to get a bit nippy if they're not being bred. Getting them spayed sometimes fixes that, but not always.
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.

-Roald Dahl
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