Are you thinking about getting a rabbit to keep as a pet? If that’s, you might want to think about the New Zealand rabbit. This breed is well-liked among pet owners due to its friendliness and ease of maintenance. This article will cover all things you need to know about growing a New Zealand rabbit, from its characteristics and history to its diet, health, and exercise concerns. Read on to learn everything about raising a healthy and happy New Zealand rabbit, whether you’re new in the rabbit world or an experienced pet owner.
The New Zealand rabbit breed was produced in the early 1900s in the United States to fulfill the meat fur requirements. The breed was created by crossbreeding various breeds of rabbits, including the Belgian Hare, the Flemish Giant, and the white rabbit. The goal was to develop a hardy, fast-growing rabbit well-suited for commercial production.
The breed became popular quickly due to its high reproductive rate and fast growth, which made it an ideal choice for meat production.
This breed was recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in late 2016, and it is one of the most popular breeds today for meat and fur production, as well as for pets.
New Zealand rabbit Size & weight
They are one of the larger rabbit breeds, with adult rabbits typically weighing between 9 and 11 pounds (4 to 5 kg). The size of these rabbits depends on their breed. For example, the American Blue is a smaller variety of New Zealand rabbits and typically weighs between 5 and 9 pounds.
The Flemish Giant is a larger breed of New Zealand rabbits and can weigh up to 22 pounds. However, the largest Flemish giant rabbit ever found weighed 50 pounds!
Regardless of breed, these rabbits have similar body shapes and physical characteristics that they look different from other rabbits.
New Zealand rabbit Characteristics
These rabbits are known for their medium to large size and muscular build, as well as their broad heads and long, upright ears that measure up to 5 inches. Their fur is short, dense, soft, and in five different colors: white, red, black, blue, and broken (a combination of white and one of the other three colors).
Their bodies are well-proportioned, with a broad chest, a deep and rounded ribcage, and powerful backbones. They have short, strong legs with thick bone structure that supports their weight. Their eyes are large, round, and dark, which gives them a friendly and curious expression.
New Zealand Rabbit Temperament
These rabbits are known for their friendly and social nature. They are highly social animals and enjoy the company of other rabbits and humans.
This behavior has also been observed in domesticated New Zealand rabbits, which live in groups like rabbits in the wild. However, if you plan to keep them in a group, introduce them slowly and carefully to avoid territorial disputes. They are also very affectionate and enjoy being petted and cuddled.
New Zealand rabbit colors
New Zealand rabbits have five colors: white, red, black, blue, and broken.
White is the most common and recognizable color of New Zealand rabbits. They have pure white fur, pink eyes, and a pinkish skin tone.
Black New Zealand rabbit has black fur, dark brown eyes, and a dark blue or slate gray skin tone.
Broken New Zealand rabbits have a combination of white and one of the other three colors, with a spotted or blotched pattern on their fur. They can have blue or brown eyes, depending on their specific coloration.
Red New Zealand Rabbit
The Red New Zealand rabbit is a breed of rabbit known for its red fur, also known as a “deep, rich, mahogany color.” Their ears are white from the inside, which creates a striking contrast against their red fur. Red New Zealand is a large rabbit breed with an average weight of 3-4.5kg (6.6 to 10 pounds).
Blue New Zealand Rabbit
The Blue New Zealand rabbit is also a rabbit breed known for its blue-gray fur. Their fur is thick and soft, which creates a beautiful contrast. They also have a wide head and long, upright ears that measure up to 5 inches.
Brown New Zealand Rabbit
The Brown New Zealand Rabbit is a beautiful breed of rabbit known for its friendly and outgoing personality. This breed is part of the New Zealand rabbit family and is available in different shades of brown, including chocolate and chestnut.
They weigh from 8 to 12 pounds when fully grown. Their fur is soft, with a brown color that is pleasing to the eye.
Like other breeds of rabbits, Brown New Zealand rabbit is herbivores and require the same diet that other rabbits eat.
They require a diet rich in fiber and protein to maintain good health. A healthy diet keeps their digestive system healthy, while protein is necessary for the growth and muscles.
In the wild, rabbits primarily eat grass and other vegetation. Provide various fresh vegetables, hay, and high-quality rabbit pellets in captivity.
A rabbit’s diet should include hay at some point. Alfalfa hay is better for young and female rabbits, while Timothy hay is good for adult rabbits.
Vegetables such as kale, carrots, and spinach can give as hay and pellets. However, introduce new foods gradually to avoid any digestive issues.
Commercial rabbit pellets are also a good source of nutrition and give only a small portion of their diet. Avoid pellets that contain sugar or molasses and are specially made for rabbits.
Furthermore, your rabbit always has access to fresh, clean water. A water bottle is a good option for providing water.
Common Health issues
Rabbit Calicivirus Disease
This disease also known as Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) or RCD, is a highly transmissible viral infection that affects rabbits. In 1984, it was first reported in China, and since then, it has spread to New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.
The virus can transfer through direct contact with infected rabbits or their secretions, such as saliva.
Rabbit owners are advised to keep their rabbits indoors and away from contact with wild rabbits.
Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite, while severe cases can lead to sudden death within 1 to 2 days due to internal bleeding and organ failure. And vaccination is the only way to prevent this disease.
Tularemia also called “deer fly fever” or “rabbit fever,” is a rare but fatal bacterial infection that can attack animals and humans. This illness is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis and is transferred through contact with infected creatures or their current circumstance.
If the teeth of New Zealand rabbits have become misaligned or overgrown, it can lead to dental problems such as tooth abscesses and mouth infections. Symptoms of dental problems include a decreased appetite, difficulty eating or drinking, drooling, and pawing at the mouth. Treatment may involve trimming the teeth or extracting them under anesthesia.
Choosing the right rabbit
Selecting the right rabbit can be challenging but also an exciting task. There are many breeds of rabbits to choose from, each with unique physical characteristics, personality, and care requirements. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a rabbit:
- Size: Rabbits have different sizes, so consider the space available for your rabbit and select a breed that is comfortable in that environment.
- Temperament: Some rabbit breeds are more social than others. If you’re looking for a companion rabbit, select a rabbit known for its friendly and loving nature.
- Coat type: Rabbits have different types of fur, including short, long, and curly. Some breeds require more grooming than others to keep their coats in good condition.
- Health concerns: Some rabbit breeds are prone to many health issues, such as obesity or dental problems. Research the breed you’re interested in and make sure you’re prepared to provide the essential care tips to keep your rabbit healthy.
- Age: Choose whether to adopt a young or older rabbit. Young rabbits are more energetic and require more attention, while older rabbits may be more lazy and less attentive.
Training Your New Zealand Rabbit: Tips and Techniques
Training rabbits can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the owner and the rabbit. The key to successful training is to start early and be patient. First, establish trust and build a bond with your rabbit by spending time with them, offering treats, and speaking to them in a gentle tone.
Next, you can introduce basic commands such as come, stay, and leave it. Positive reinforcement training, using rewards such as treats, is the most effective method for teaching rabbits. Keep training sessions small, around 10-15 minutes, and be consistent with your commands and rewards.
During rabbit training, never use any physical punishment, as this can hurt the trust and bond you have established with your rabbit. With patience and positive support, your rabbit can learn a variety of tricks and commands and become a well-trained and enjoyable pet.
New Zealand rabbit breeding age
Female rabbits typically reach breeding age at around 5-6 months, while males’ breeding age is 6 to 7 months.
Breeding can be done through artificial insemination or naturally. Focus on the breeding schedule and see the female’s behavior and health throughout the pregnancy.
Once the female rabbit gives birth, provide a safe and comfortable environment for the newborn kits. They require frequent feedings and care in the first few weeks of life. It’s also important to ensure that the breeding rabbits do not become overbred, as this can lead to health issues and reduced fertility in the future.
New Zealand rabbit gestation period
The gestation period of a New Zealand rabbit typically lasts between 28 to 31 days, with an average of 30 days. During this time, the female rabbit, also known as a doe, prepares a nest for her kits (baby rabbits) using materials such as straw, hay, and fur.
After giving birth, the doe nurse her kits for about 4 to 6 weeks until they are weaned and start eating solid food. So, provide the doe with a balanced diet during this time to ensure she has the nutrients needed to produce milk for her kits.
These rabbits are known for their large litter, with an average litter size is ten ( 10 ) kits. However, litters of up to 12 or more kits are not uncommon.
New Zealand Rabbit Price
The age, color, breed, and location all play a role in how much a New Zealand rabbit costs. On average, a New Zealand rabbit can cost anywhere from $20 to $100.
Younger rabbits and those with rare colors may cost more than older rabbits or those with more common colors. Additionally, rabbits from reputable breeders may cost more than those from pet stores.
New Zealand rabbit lifespan
The New Zealand rabbit has a relatively long lifespan compared to other rabbit breeds. They can live between 5 to 8 years with proper care and a healthy diet. However, some rabbits have been known to live up to 10 years or more.
What is the New Zealand rabbit used for?
The New Zealand rabbit is a versatile breed used for meat and fur production. And its soft fur is used in the production of garments, such as hats and gloves. Some people also keep these rabbits as pets due to their docile nature and friendly personalities. This breed is also sometimes used in laboratories for research purposes.
Are New Zealand rabbits good pets?
Yes, these rabbits are good pets. They are also known for their docile and friendly nature. They are also adaptable to indoor and outdoor environments and can be litter box trained.
What is special about rabbit?
One of the most notable features of rabbits is their teeth. Another special trait of rabbits is their excellent vision to see in low light conditions, allowing them to be active at dawn and dusk. Rabbits also have strong hind legs, enabling them to jump high and quickly change direction to avoid predators.
Are New Zealand rabbits cuddly?
New Zealand rabbits can be cuddly and affectionate with their owners, but it depends on the individual rabbit’s personality. Some rabbits may not enjoy being held or cuddled, while others crave attention and love.