Pet Breed

New Zealand Rabbit

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  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 10-12 lb
  • Lifespan: 5-8 years
  • Body Shape: Commercial

New Zealand Rabbit Breed History/Origin

These rabbits, despite their name, are not from New Zealand. They are the first American breed of rabbit to be created. American breeders crossed popular rabbit varieties from the “old country” to create a meat-producing, high-quality rabbit. Their crosses with Flemish Giants and Belgian Hare genes were popularized as the New Zealand Red Rabbit in 1913. The albino breeds of the breed were soon separated. In 1917, the first New Zealand White rabbit litter was born. A New Zealand Red doe with four albino Kitts was responsible. These pure white sports with crimson-coloured eyes were so striking that the breeder decided to attempt selective breeding to reproduce them. The rest is history.

New Zealand Rabbits were very popular in the United States. Many breeders attempted to improve their quality or selectively breed them for other purposes. ARBA recognizes 5 New Zealand Rabbit breeds today. New Zealand Reds were first identified in 1916, New Zealand White Rabbit was in 1920, and Black New Zealand was in 1958. ARBA accepted the new broken variety in 2010 and the blue type in late 2016.

General Description

New Zealand’s body shape is well-rounded. It is slim and muscular. The appearance of this breed is a direct result of its origins in meat production. The New Zealand rabbit is well-fed, from the hips to the loins to the ribs. Their head is slightly rounded and proportionate to the rest of their body. The ears are thick and well-furred, with rounded tips. They are carried erect. The breed is larger than the bucks, with a maximum weight between 10 and 12 pounds. The males should weigh between 9 to 11 pounds.

Coat

New Zealand rabbits have a soft, flyback-like fur that is tightly tucked in the pelt. Although their coat is not very messy, New Zealand rabbits can be great pets. However, if you have a New Zealand, it may prove beneficial to groom them now and again to reduce loose hair. This will ensure your pet doesn’t inhale too much hair while grooming, which could harm their health.

You can groom them once a week or biweekly using a bristled brush. Remember that rabbits shouldn’t be bathed as it can cause them stress and lead to cardiac problems. Instead, use a damp cloth to clean any dirty areas.

Colors

ARBA recognizes five colors in the New Zealand rabbit. These colors are black, red, white, blue, broken, and any other color that is mixed with white. Each color belongs to a different breed.

Care requirements

New Zealand rabbits require a safe and secure environment to eat, sleep, and play. The outdoor enclosure should be raised so that the rabbit can stretch their legs, move around and sit up. Because this rabbit is large, the enclosure should be quite large. An enclosure should be at least 30 inches by 36 inches for any New Zealand Rabbit. The enclosures for indoor rabbits should have strong wire around the perimeter, a metal or plastic bottom, and be large enough to allow the New Zealand rabbits to move freely. Their cages must be covered with rabbit-safe bedding. It should be cleaned every day and then completely replaced every week. The most popular options for rabbit cage bedding are hay, wood pellets and shredded paper.

Rabbits must be allowed to roam freely in their enclosed, comfortable environment. Make sure they have a secure area away from predators. Before you allow your rabbit to go outside, make sure you bunny-proof their space. You should remove all toxic plants and food that your rabbit might eat, conceal electric cables, and protect the legs of wooden furniture your bunny may chew on. You will need to supervise your bunny in both situations.

The diet of a New Zealand rabbit is the same as any other rabbit diet. It should be primarily high-quality hay. Many rabbit owners agree that timothy is the best hay for their pet, although orchard hay and occasional alfalfa are also good options. A balanced diet should include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and pellets. There are many types of pellets on the market. Some have higher protein than others.

You should be aware of the types of fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens in your home. Some are safe for rabbits while others are not. Most leafy greens can cause digestive problems in rabbits, especially if they are in large quantities. You should feed your rabbit greens rich in nutrients and fibre, such as romaine, and you should be mindful of the type of fruits you are feeding them (apples are a great choice).

Health

The New Zealand rabbit isn’t susceptible to any specific diseases or health problems. However, there are some things that potential rabbit owners should be aware of. For example, overgrown teeth are a common problem with pet rabbits. This is mostly due to poor diet. Rabbits should eat a high-quality diet rich in the hay. Hay is responsible for maintaining their teeth’s length throughout their lives. Your rabbit may experience severe pain if its teeth grow too far. Ensure that this is not an issue; make sure you look inside your bunny’s mouth at least once a week.

Indoor and outdoor rabbits should also be de-wormed. It should be applied in a small amount once a year. Ear mites can form in indoor and outdoor New Zealand rabbits. Flystrike is another painful condition that can happen to outdoor rabbits. This occurs when flies lay eggs in soiled fur, mostly around their bottoms. Your rabbit’s internals is their only source of nutrition once they hatch. This causes extreme pain. If you suspect that your rabbit may be suffering from flystrike, please take them to the veterinarian immediately.

While buckling can be done as early as three-and-a-half months of age, spaying should be done at six months. New Zealanders are calm and docile rabbits. Sterilization can have other benefits if your rabbit isn’t going to be used for breeding. A neutered male rabbit is less likely to mark his urine with urine, and a neutered female rabbit will be at lower risk for developing uterine cancer.

Temperament/Behavior

The New Zealand rabbit was designed to produce meat and fur. They are docile and easy to handle. If you decide to adopt a New Zealand rabbit as your pet, they can be socialized with other pets and children as long as they are allowed to learn. They are easy to handle and enjoy being handled, making them an excellent pet for families with younger or older children.

These bunnies are calm and friendly, making them great companions for seniors, singles, or couples looking for a pet to share their time with. This rabbit breed isn’t known for being aggressive or biting. They love to be held and petted while they play.

Although rabbits aren’t known to bite, they should be provided with toys that they can chew, nibble, and gnaw on to help them reduce boredom and keep their teeth short. This can vary depending on the personality of your rabbit. It could be as simple as a rule made from kitchen paper towels or as complicated as a pet toy that stimulates your mind.

Although it’s not an easy task to train indoor pets, it is possible to litter train rabbits. Owners often find that having multiple litter boxes scattered throughout their home is necessary to prevent their rabbits from dropping their droppings everywhere. Many owners find that their rabbits will be more likely to do their dirty work in one corner if they have a litter box. This allows them to connect with their rabbit and help them understand that the litter box is for their use. Litter training can be achieved in a matter of months with patience, lots of treats and lots of time.

Jeremy C. Harper

Bernedoodle Dog Breed Health, Grooming, Feeding, Puppies and Temperament

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