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American Rabbit Care Sheet

American Rabbit Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:American Rabbit
Scientific Name:Oryctolagus cuniculus
Life Span:8 to 12 years
Size (Adult):Medium to large
Weight (Adult)9 to 11 pounds
Habitat:Human homes and areas
Body Shape:Semi-arch mandolin
Country of Origin:United States

Physical Description

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The American rabbit is a breed of rabbit that may be medium to large in size and usually has a semi-arch or mandolin shape. It is a breed recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association or ARBA in 1917. According to the association’s standards, the American rabbit has to have a mandolin-body shape and a coat that has the best quality to be used as coats. 

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What Are The Different Types of Rabbits? video

The American rabbit is also popular for being a sweet, calm, laid back, and docile pet. This makes it a good pet for families, seniors, singles, and older children. 

The semi-arch shape of the American rabbit is known for being the best body shape when viewed from the side. The body does not rise from behind the ears but curves and flattens upward towards the midsection. 

The ears are narrow and proportional in length. These large rabbits can weigh up to 11 pounds when these are fully-grown. The coat is very attractive and soft. It is silky to touch and feel. Both kinds of American rabbits have very short fur with a slight flyback. This means that the coat will always go back in its previous place after you move your hands or pet it backward.

Breed Color 

The American Rabbit was accepted in the ARBA as a “Blue” rabbit because this breed was classified as having the deepest and the darkest fur of grey or blue rabbits. The ARBA further said that the color is best as “uniform rich, dark slate-blue” with no white hairs and has a sandy or rust color. 

In 1925, a white American Rabbit emerged and was immediately recognized. It was created by selecting white sports or mutants and adding a white, red-eyed albino Flemish Giant breed. This is an albino type of rabbit or the red-eyed white while the blue-eyed whites have already appeared. The latter was considered as sports in the American rabbit breed and cannot be used for the show. Aside from these colors, the American rabbit also comes in black, but this is not a color recognized by the ARBA.

Breed Shape

The standard shape for the American rabbit breed is a mandolin or a semi-arched shape with a long loin compared to the common, commercial round shape like the New Zealand and Californian. When in the show, the mandolin shape has a different posing than commercial form breeds. To best display the shape and the length of the body as well as the modified point of the highest arch above the hips, the breed-specific posing is used. 

American rabbits are known as normal shaped compared to dwarf breeds. Its medium size means that an adult American rabbit can weigh from 9 to 12 pounds. Females are slightly heavier and larger than males.    

History of the Breed

The blue American rabbit breed was created in Pasadena, California. This was developed by Lewis H. Salisbury in 1917. Experts say that the American rabbit was the first species developed in the country; however, another breed called the New Zealand Red conquered the United States several years before. 

Compared to other breeds who reveal the lineage of the specimen, Salisbury did not reveal the breeds that he chose to come up with the American rabbit. The shape of the rabbit’s body suggests that it may be from the Flemish Giants, Beveren, Vienna, and the Imperial. If this was so replicating, this breed might be impossible because the Imperial rabbit breed is already extinct.

It was in 1925 when the white variety American rabbit was officially accepted by the ARBA. The name was originally called the German Blue Vienna but was later renamed before WWI to the American Blue Rabbit. Quite recently, rabbit keepers and rescue groups who were unfamiliar with the appearance and the features of the breed, the American rabbit was called mutt rabbits or the American. And because of this, confusion regarding the actual status of the breed happened. 

The American rabbit was also known as a rare breed. It was popular until the 1950s for their meat and fur. Until 1949, the Blue and the White breeds were included in the top five or six popular and was known as the ideal rabbits for commercial use. 

After the development of other commercial breeds like the New Zealand and the Californian, and the end of the domestic clamor for fur, people lost interest in the American rabbit. And following a contraction in the population of the breed in the 1980s, the breed is now considered rare in North America. These are also hunted down due to their sharp teeth. 

In 2005 as different rabbit breeds were included in the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s Conservancy Priority List, the American rabbit was classified as rare and critically endangered. The White American was also in danger of being dropped from the ARBA list in 2004 because of a lack of representation during the yearly ARBA event.

Afterward, the American rabbit population has dramatically increased. In 2012, the ALBC changed the classification of the American rabbit from being critical to a less-endangered or threatened category. One of the reasons why the breed revived was the dedication of breeders to ship breeding rabbits across the country. Also, a line of the White American was also recently discovered in Alberta, Canada ins a community of Hutterites.

Finally, the American rabbit is slowly being regarded for its meat. The breed is included in the Ark of Taste, Meat, and Poultry’s Slow Food USA project. This project has led to an increased interest in the breed as a homestead or heritage breed.

Fast Facts 

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You should never bath your rabbit. No matter how dirty it is, you should stick to cleaning it with a damp cloth. Water and bathing can make them very stressed. Also, you are destroying some natural oils or chemicals found in their fur, which makes it smooth and healthy. Don’t worry because your pet will just clean itself up. Rabbits are known to be immaculately, clean creatures. 

Reproduction 

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The American rabbit is known for its lovely coat, easy demeanor, and prolific breeding. Because of their short gestation period of only 30 days, the rabbit can breed many times a year. It can produce around 5 babies per gestation period and will be ready to mate in just a few weeks after.

Rabbits become sexually mature in just a few months after birth. Mating is quick, but courting can be longer. Bucks chase after does until it submits. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Females may signal that she is interested in the male by the changes in the color of her private areas. 

Once the female is pregnant, she will lose interest in the male and will soon eat slowly. She will need a place to lay her babies, and the perfect place is a burrow in the wild, but for domesticated rabbits, a bed of hay or straw would suffice. 

She will diligently arrange the bed with straw and even use fur to make the bed soft and warm. She will stay in the nest as she delivers her babies. The baby American rabbits are born blind, naked, and very small. 

The mother will stay a few days in the nest to care for her young, and these will greatly grow in size and will change in appearance. The mother will soon leave the nest and will only return nightly to a nurse for a very short period. 

The young rabbits will soon leave their nests too at around two weeks. They will return at night for another week and then abandon their nest to be with their group. 

Fun Facts

American rabbits are very adorable, and do you know that the White American may be the most commonly depicted appearance of a rabbit or bunny? The White is fluffy and cute, which is why many pet owners prefer it to other rabbit breeds. 

But when choosing a pet rabbit, appearance should be just one factor. Consider its size foremost and if you have room for two or more rabbits of the same size for the company. Do you have resources for its food, vet bills, and maintenance? As you can see, owning a rabbit is not all fun, after all.

Personality and Behavior

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American rabbits were mostly bred for their meat and fur and less used as a pet. But lately, families and many seniors and singles prefer the American rabbit than other breeds because of its calm and docile temperament.

But the behavior of this breed may depend on where it was raised. If it is used to being with humans, then expect it to be easy-going, easy to train, and maybe house-proofed. If the rabbit was raised without human interaction and just near its littermates, then it can be skittish and nervous all the time. But with constant interaction and the use of treats and food, it can soon outgrow this behavior and become docile and calm towards their owners.

Some American rabbits are nervous around people, especially those with small hands, and to people who don’t know how to hold or approach them. This is why it’s not a good breed for families with very young children. The American rabbit may suddenly become scared and defend itself by biting the person’s hand. 

Young American rabbits are very energetic and will hop about, play games with their littermates, and will eat a lot. But adults seem to be very laid-back and will just be contented chewing on hay inside their enclosures.

Care of American Rabbits

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Caring for a pet American rabbit is very similar to how you care for other breeds. Make sure that it has the correct diet, housing, companionship, and take it to a vet for proper medical treatment. 

The main food of captive rabbits like the American rabbit is hay. Hay is the bulk of their diet, but you may also feed them pellets designed specifically for rabbits. Commercially-prepared food has added vitamins and minerals for proper health. You may add vegetables and fruits to create a well-rounded rabbit diet.

Give them unlimited fresh water and hay. Hay is rough and is helpful in keeping their digestive tracts healthy and regular. Place the water in a heavy shallow dish so that your rabbit can easily drink from it. A heavy dish is important, so your rabbit won’t knock it over as it moves inside the cage. You may also place water in an inverted container with a spout. 

Also, protect your rabbit from pesticides, toxins, and herbicides. Younger rabbits may need alfalfa hay because this is rich in calcium needed for growing bones. The adult American rabbits will eat legume hay. Don’t just give any yard clippings to your pet. Check if it is safe to eat. 

Captive-bred American rabbits can become a lovable pet, but you need to train it well. Interact by playing with your pets daily. Rabbits are social animals, and aside from interacting with their cage mates, these also need human interaction. Experts say that captive-bred rabbits thrive well because they interact with their owners every day. 

American rabbits will groom themselves. Sometimes a rabbit can take hours cleaning itself, taking extra time cleaning under the feet and ears. Rabbits may also be seen grooming each other, which is a social behavior as a way to bond with other rabbits. Mother rabbits may also groom their young while they are still in the nest.

American rabbits are active during the day and will sleep in the evenings. Their feedings should be done in the morning when they are the most active. Captive rabbits sleep 8 hours a day, on average, and they may sleep, huddled together to keep warm. 

Supplies and Cages

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The cage or enclosure for captive American Rabbits should be made of wire with a strong frame. The bottom must have a removable plastic pan or tray where the rabbit’s droppings will easily fall. You can easily maintain it during clean-up time. The floor of the cage must have soft bedding so that it is comfortable for your rabbit to stay on. 

Put a rabbit hay feeder on the side of the enclosure. Your rabbit can eat hay when they feel hungry. For the bedding, use hay or aspen, wood pellets, or pelleted horse bedding. 

To clean the cage, remove your pet/pets and clean it with a safe cleaner or natural cleaning product like white vinegar, baking soda, or lemon. Do not use the bathroom or common household cleaners, which may have toxic ingredients that can affect your rabbit’s health.

Also, baby American rabbits are born without fur and with their eyes closed. If you want to breed rabbits, place the babies in a warm enclosure or container to keep their bodies at the right temperatures. A large container or enclosure is better and places a lot of hay to keep temperatures toasty warm.

Just like other breeds, captive American rabbits love chewing on things. If kept indoors, these will chew on anything made of wood like wooden walls, fixtures, and wooden furniture, and even electrical wiring. To avoid accidents, provide hay or chew toys aside from their food inside the cage. Rabbit proof your home before releasing your pet. 

Health Concerns

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American rabbit is known as a healthy breed and is not in any way affected by the disease. Possibly the reason for this is the result of strict breeding as a commercial rabbit.  The most that American rabbits may be affected with are pests like mites, ticks, and fleas because these are pests that are naturally found in their environment. 

Meanwhile, captive rabbits are not immune to common rabbit diseases. You must always be mindful of your rabbit’s health and temperament. Any change may be due to an illness. As early as your pet is able to open its eyes and walk, take it to the vet for standard vaccinations and tests. These will assess the overall health and development of your pet. There are rabbits with sensitive digestive systems and thus could be prone to different health conditions that plague the digestive tract, including enteritis, bloat, and stasis. These may affect rabbits, which are less than two months old. 

Always watch out for ear or fur parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks. Most of the time, rabbits with these pests lack hygiene and have poorly-kept surroundings and cages. 

Always assess your pet for any signs of illness like poor appetite, nasal and eye discharges, diarrhea, and vomiting. Also, unsteady gait, restlessness, a grating of the teeth, and sleeping all day may be signs of a serious condition.

De-worming is also needed by American rabbits. This is a major concern, especially with rabbits that are from the wild or are bred from wild parents. All rabbit breeds must be dewormed, and this should be done during the spring and fall. Use only a pea-sized amount of de-worming paste and put it in the rabbit’s mouth. It will continuously lick it and swallow it. Follow the dose according to the product container for the best results.

Dental Care

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An important part of a rabbit’s health is caring for its teeth. An American rabbit is known for growing teeth, and sometimes these can grow very fast. As an owner, you must make sure that the rabbit’s teeth don’t overgrow. 

Rabbits usually chew so much because if they don’t, their teeth will grow very long. When this happens, their teeth can grow into their mouths and jaws, which will cause terrible pain and will also affect the way they eat. 

You can help your rabbit by offering hay as it files down the rabbit’s teeth naturally as they chew. Use pieces of wood, wooden baskets, or other cage accessories that can help fill the rabbit’s teeth. Keep an eye on your rabbit’s dental health, to save on expensive medical and dental bills.

Spaying or Neutering

Because of the promiscuity of American rabbits, you must control their ability to breed if you want to keep these in your home. Spaying and neutering are done at a young age. However, some veterinarians wait until the rabbits are six months old to be safe. American bucks are also neutered at a young age because it is said that neutering reduces aggression. Some may be neutered as young as three months. Consult a vet for the best practices for spaying and neutering your pet. 

Grooming

American rabbits have moderately long fur, depending on the type. White rabbits may have longer and finer fur compared to Blacks and Blues. But no matter what color of American rabbit, it will need regular grooming. You must brush the fur to keep these clean, shiny, and free from pests. You must groom it with a small brush weekly. 

Grooming should be done more frequently during their molting period, to prevent wool blocks and to keep the rabbit from ingesting their fur. This can accumulate in the digestive tract causing blockage and more complications if you don’t help your rabbit groom its coat. 

And even if your rabbit is very dirty, you should never give it a bath because doing so can cause a lot of stress. You may use a damp towel to spot clean your pet. Just wipe the rabbit down with the towel and use a dry one to dry off. 

You must trim their nails monthly and also check its mouth for overgrown teeth. Ask the vet to do this for you if you don’t have the tools or if you’re not comfortable with cutting your rabbit’s nails and checking its mouth. The rabbit’s big ears must be cleaned and checked as well.

Comparable Breeds

The American rabbit is comparable with the Polish rabbit because of its similarities in temperament and good-nature. The Polish rabbit is a compact dwarf breed that weighs just 2.5 to 3.5 pounds and has a lifespan of 5 to 6 years. It is the perfect type of rabbit for singles and for families with older children. As mentioned, it has a calm and docile nature. It is friendly and social and loves being with other rabbits in an enclosure.

Another comparable breed is the Florida White, a docile mini or dwarf rabbit breed. It is comparable with the American rabbit because of its lovely white coat. It has a compact shape and is best suited for singles, young children, and for first-time rabbit owners because of its size. The Florida White is friendly, docile, and is quiet. It is one of the relaxed rabbit breeds to own.

Availability – Where to Get an American Rabbit

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The cost of purchasing an American rabbit may depend on whether you are getting it from a breeder or a retailer. The price varies whether you are getting a rabbit for a pet or for show. The price ranges according to gender, size, coat quality, and overall appearance.

When searching for a reliable breeder, make sure that you are getting a rabbit that is healthy and free from any genetic disorder. Buy only from reliable breeders who raise captive-bred American rabbits. American rabbits may be seen in trade fairs and farm events to showcase large and healthy bodies for coat and meat. Shows and contests may also feature this breed.

How to Care for an American Rabbit

Caring for a captive-bred American rabbit is just like caring for other rabbit breeds. Make sure that it has the correct diet, housing, companionship, and take it to a vet for proper medical treatment and for preventive health care. 

Take note that the main food of captive-bred rabbits is hay. This is important in their diet so they can chew this all day long. You may also use pellets that are designed for rabbits, vegetables, and fruits to create a well-rounded rabbit diet. You may also give them food found in their natural habitats like grasses, twigs, birch, maples, and weeds.

Keep fresh water and hay inside the rabbit’s cage. Hay is rough and is helpful in keeping their digestive tracts healthy and regular. Place water in a large, heavy shallow dish so that your rabbit can drink from it, and it won’t knock it over as it moves inside the cage. 

Always keep in mind that captive-bred rabbits can become a good pet only when you invest time to train it. It would help a lot if you train and interact with it daily. Also, captive rabbits are social animals and will need a companion. So don’t just get one or two rabbits, take care of three or more so your pet can grow healthy, with good temperament, and will love to be with you and other rabbits. 

FAQs

Should you pick up a wild rabbit from the forest?

No, don’t ever pick a wild animal like a rabbit from the forest. You won’t be able to tame it, and you won’t be able to take it home for a pet. If you see an injured rabbit and you would like to help, call animal services right away. 

Are American rabbits endangered?

Because of the efforts of breeders, the once near endangered American rabbit, especially the White American, is now of least concern and is even thriving in Canadian communities. 

Where do American rabbits live?

It’s very rare that you’ll find the American rabbit breed in the wild because these are domesticated rabbits and are mostly found in breeding kennels, pet stores, and inhuman homes and environment.

Can you keep an American rabbit as a pet?

Yes, you can keep it as a pet because it has a naturally docile and sweet temperament. It is a good pet for families but not for families with small children.

Can American rabbits eat meat?

No, these rabbits are herbivores, which means that these won’t eat meat, only plants or plant parts. American rabbits will eat tree parts like roots, bark, leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, seeds, and many more. 

Do American rabbits eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, you can give pet American rabbits some fruits and vegetables. Aside from these, American rabbits will also eat commercially-prepared pellets or rabbit food, which contains nutrients that your pet will need daily. 

What do American rabbits eat?

American Rabbits are herbivorous, which means that they will eat plants. They will eat all plant parts like roots, bark, seeds, weeds, flowers, and leaves.

Can American rabbits swim?

Yes, American rabbits can swim but not as good as other water animals. But you don’t want to wet your pet rabbit because this can become very stressed.

How do you tame a rabbit?

We don’t recommend petting and taming a wild rabbit because this won’t be trained no matter what and may even bite you if it thinks that you are a threat. You can handle a captive-bred rabbit instead. Although these rabbits are known for their docile behavior, these still need constant handling, playing, and activity with their handlers to remain tame and happy in captivity. 

Will American rabbits eat their poop?

Yes, American rabbits can eat their poop because these still have nutrients in them. But after eating them once, they won’t do it the second time. This weird behavior seems to be true to all rabbit breeds.

Can you keep two or more American rabbits inside a cage?

You can keep two or more rabbits in one cage as long as the cage is large enough to keep your pets in. Take note that the cage should be large, comfortable, and safe for your pet rabbits to stay in.

Are American rabbits territorial?

Experts say that American rabbits can be territorial when kept in a small enclosure. Males may become very aggressive to other males when during the breeding season. They may bite, scratch, and kick their rivals to establish hierarchy. 

Will a mother American rabbit eat her young?

There are some rabbit species that will eat their young. Experts are still wondering why mother rabbits do this, but if you spot the mother American Rabbit eating her young in captivity, remove it from the litter or nest and don’t allow it to breed again.

How do you clean an American rabbit’s cage?

Remove the rabbit and place it in another cage. Remove the pan where the droppings are found and dispose of the droppings carefully. Use a hose and some cleaning products and clean the cage walls, bottom, accessories, and toys. Make sure everything is dry before placing your pet back in.

How do you take care of baby American rabbits?

If you’re breeding baby American rabbits, place these in a comfortable and warm. Feed them soft, pureed food and keep them warm. Protect these from predators and even from your house cat or pet dog. For wild-caught bunnies, call animal services to have these rescued properly. 

Can you leave an American rabbit indoors out of its cage?

Just like allowing a rabbit to stay outdoors out of its cage, you may allow a rabbit to stay indoors but under your constant supervision. You must use a portable perimeter fencing to fence off areas that the rabbit can’t go. Also, rabbit-proof your home before you let your rabbits free.

Do you keep an American rabbit’s cage indoors or outdoors?

This may depend on your preference. You can place the cage of your pet indoors to protect it from the elements, but most indoor cages are small and may not be enough for an American rabbit. With an outdoor cage, the rabbits may need to bear the cold, but at least they will have a large area to play and run around. 

How large must an American rabbit’s cage be?

One American rabbit should be kept in a large enclosure considering its size.  For two rabbits, double this area. Always make sure that your rabbits have enough space to play, eat, and sleep. 

Can rabbits survive the cold?

Yes, rabbits can stay in the cold and survive by foraging food that’s underneath the snow. Rabbits can dig underneath snow and eat unfrozen roots, shrubs, berries, and other edible food that they will find.

Can American rabbits remain outdoors?

A pet American rabbit may be allowed to remain outdoors, but you must rabbit-proof your yard first. Use a portable perimeter fencing to limit the area where the rabbit can roam free. Make sure to bury the poles of the fence well to prevent the rabbit from escaping. 

What happens when the teeth of the American rabbit grow longer?

As the teeth of the rabbit grow longer, these can pierce its mouth and lower gums, causing too much pain and may also affect its appetite. This is why your pet rabbit should visit the dentist regularly. You must offer hay for the rabbit to chew on since this can slowly grind their teeth shorter. 

How often do rabbits need to go to the vet?

Rabbits need to visit the vet at least once a year. Young rabbits should be vaccinated against some diseases, so they need to have an initial visit to a vet during the first weeks of life. 

Does it hurt when an American rabbit hits you with its hind legs?

Yes, because American Rabbits have very sharp claws even on its hind feet. Also, it can kick very hard with its hind feet, which can inflict damage. The rabbit will do this if it feels threatened and the last resort to escape from predators.

Are American rabbits bites dangerous?

Yes, American rabbit bites are dangerous because these may have rabies. Also, their teeth are huge, and this can easily tear off flesh leaving you with a severe deep wound.

Are American rabbits able to escape their cages?

Yes, American rabbits can escape their cages. These can’t jump over their cages, but these are strong enough to knock it down. Large American rabbits are known to be very good kickers and can kick their cages or fences down to escape. 

Can you prevent an American rabbit from eating his poop?

You can stop it from eating poop by removing the droppings right away when you see them defecating. But no matter what you do, these animals will still eat their poop because they know that it still has nutrients in them.

Do you need to place a heater inside an American rabbit’s cage?

In cold places, you can use a cage lamp to provide heat. But in extremely cold weather, use a small portable heater and just place this near the rabbit cage for a comfortable place for your pet to live in. This is important, especially for warming baby bunnies. 

Do American rabbits have good hearing?

Although the American rabbit has smaller ears compared to other rabbit breeds, this rabbit has good hearing. It can hear its predators or any threats from far away, and therefore it has time to jump and escape.

Can rabbits see well in the dark?

Yes, rabbits have amazing vision, especially at night. This is why some species prefer to forage for food at night. Rabbits also have a good sense of smell and hearing to allow them to detect predators nearby.

Are rabbit diseases harmful to humans?

Some rabbit diseases can only affect rabbits, while some are harmful to humans. If your rabbit is ill, you must take it to the vet at once. You must understand the different signs of illnesses like poor appetite, sneezing, diarrhea, constipation, and changes in behavior. Take it to the vet if you notice these symptoms.

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