Rex + Californian = Silver Marten?

DSC_0072The hybrid babies are ten weeks old now and their color patterns have turned out to be quite interesting. I have about five or six bunnies that look like this. Doesn’t it look a whole lot like a Silver Marten rabbit to you?

DSC_0068The bunny pictured above is a cross between a black otter Standard Rex dam and a pure Californian sire. She has the white eyeliner, belly, tail, nose-shading, neck triangle, inner ears, chin and white ticking, just like a Silver Marten.

If I saw this rabbit at a show, I would think it was a Silver Marten with below average ticking, as it’s supposed to come up over the entire hindquarters. It’s hard to see in the photo but her black fur is also a little bit grayish and not as dark and lustrous as Silver Marten fur should be.

For comparison, here’s a young Silver Marten kit from a couple of years ago before I stopped breeding them:

DSC_0046He’s quite young here, but you can see the basic coloration he has. Some SMs are born with lots of ticking and some with less. I have had kits who only had it go up a few inches, much like the hybrid doe in the first shot.

DSC_0071Back view of her white ticking. It doesn’t go up very far, but it’s there.

It’s interesting to me to think about the origins of rabbit breeds and how they were initially developed. We seem to accept that no new breeds are being created, although I know there are people working on new colors within existing parameters. It’s mostly about ‘perfecting’ the breed you already have.

I wonder what would happen if I took one of these hybrids to a rabbit show and entered it as a Silver Marten. Could I breed my own version of the Silver Marten using totally disparate breeds? It’s an interesting thing to think about.


Bunnies Move Out

DSC_0065The two first litters of the year are now seven weeks old and it’s time to move out!

Each group is now in their own tractor on lawn mowing/fertilizing duty. They will be moved each day to a new patch of grass and their mothers will finally have a break and some more room to themselves. Two hybrid bunnies have been sold, so there are six buns per tractor which is a good number. In about three weeks the bucks and the does will be separated out. From some preliminary sexing, I know that the hybrid litter is mostly does, but the sexes of the Californian litter are still unknown. I’ll probably flip them all over in the next few days to see what I have.


Californian kits


Hybrid kits

I also sexed the oldest Standard Rex litter today and we have four bucks and three does. Here’s one of the blue otter bucks.


Sexing position

DSC_0087I also got a few pictures of the younger Rex litter, they are about three weeks old and at the very cute, cotton-ball stage. Bluefin is still growling every time I take them out, but I’ve been ignoring it and giving her an overdose of petting each time which has helped a lot. She’s such a bratty girl.


Bluefin’s buns

The kit who I thought would be white has turned into sort of a tortoiseshell color. It has a tan topside, a white belly and white/greyish sides with a little grey dot on the nose. I’ve never seen a Rex this color before. Does anyone have any ideas?

DSC_0131 DSC_0129 Esther, Samphire and Tuna have all been bred again today so I’ll be expecting three more litters in a month. I’ll have purebred Rex, purebred Californians, and I bred Esther to Timmy for the first time, so there will be some Creme d’Argent/Rex hybrids. I’m excited to see how they turn out. Here’s hoping for some neat colors and coats.

After my last post about my struggles getting pedigrees for some of my rabbits, I reached out to another local breeder who was able to figure out Tuna’s pedigree for me, as she owns her parents now. One down, two to go! It’s so interesting to look back into her lineage, there are actually quite a few brokens in there. I wonder if she’ll ever throw any?

Back to the Rabbits


Hybrid meat bunnies

I haven’t posted about rabbits for awhile, especially considering the name of this site. There have been a lot of changes in the past few months.

The biggest and best change is that I finally replaced the roof on my barn. For two years whenever it rained the poor bunnies had to live with the occasional drip which slowly turned into a constant drizzle as the tarp I put up weathered away. I even lost a whole litter once when they were drowned by accident. That was a horrible experience. Now I’ve installed a nice new metal roof that I’m proud to say I built myself and learned a lot in the process. I still have work to do on it yet like fascia boards but at least things are now watertight. You wouldn’t believe the constant anxiety it was causing me knowing the rabbits were living without a proper roof! Summers were fine but spring and fall are very wet here. Soon I will be replacing the old falling-off, flip-up garage door with some nice dutch barn doors. To these I would also like to add a dog/cat door so my team can maintain a constant mouse vigil.

I also went through a paring down process with the rabbits themselves. My first purebred rabbits here were Silver Martens, as that was all I could get at the time. While they were nice rabbits, they just didn’t grow fast enough or large enough for me to be viable as meat rabbits. So I got rid of them.

Now I’m down to four does and two bucks. I have Esther, my reliable Creme d’Argent doe, Samphire, my Californian doe, Tuna, my Black Otter Standard Rex doe and Bluefin, her daughter, a Blue Otter Standard Rex. My bucks are Scorch, the Californian and Timmy the Black Otter Rex. It’s a nice variety and a good number for me right now I think.

As of this moment all of my does are (fingers-crossed) bred. I’m expecting a litter of Cal/Creme meat hybrids, a litter of pure Cals, and hopefully two litters of Standard Rex. Three of those litters are due this Wednesday. Nest boxes go in tomorrow.

I resisted getting Californian rabbits at first. Not sure why, I guess they looked kind of boring to me as predominantly white rabbits. Now I’ve changed my mind, and I really like my Cal pair. They were skittish at first, but have calmed down a lot as adults and seem to enjoy petting. They are never, ever aggressive. I also love Esther, my Creme doe. She’s been with me from the beginning and was a gift from a local rabbit breeder. She’s a big, beautiful, sweet girl who is a fantastic mother, does excellent on forage and has never shown a hint of aggression, ever.

Then there are the Rexes. While Timmy, who is an ex-pet rabbit would never think of being mean (he is also the only rabbit who I can free range in the yard and trust to return to his cage), the girls have had their moments. Both Rex does have stomped, growled, boxed and lunged at me, although I’ve never been bitten. I’m kind of split on the issue because I really like both of them as breeders (not that they’ve proven to be reliable mothers yet at this point), but I also don’t see the point of having aggressive rabbits here at all. It’s possible they act out primarily when hormonal, so I’ll have to be mindful of that. They’ll have a chance to prove themselves as moms in the next few weeks and that will help my decision, I’m sure. At least I hope it does.

They’ve been very good lately, but that may be because spring brings lots of fresh treats. If they continue to be aggressive with me once they have kits, I think I’ll have no choice but to cull once the kits are weaned. I do not want to be bitten by a rabbit.

Check back soon for baby bunnies!