Californian Rabbit Care Sheet

Californian Rabbit Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Californian
Scientific Name:Oryctolagus cuniculus
Life Span:5 to 10 years
Size (Adult):Small
Weight (Adult)3.5 to 4.8 kg
Habitat:Human homes, yards, gardens, and farms
Body Shape:Commercial
Country of Origin:United States

Physical Description

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The Californian or the California White is a breed of rabbit that is domesticated due to their fur and meat. George S. West from Lynwood, California, began to breed Californian in 1923. The man maintained a huge heard of Californians, especially New Zealand whites, that he used to create the Californian. The pure New Zealand whites were further crossed with Chinchilla rabbits, which have very thick and dense coats as well as the Himalayan. It is said that the Californians inherited their facial markings from the Himalayan.

The Californian was so named according to the breed’s place of origin. It was initially introduced in 1928. Since then, the American Rabbit Breeders Association has created strict standards for show. The ARHA    and the BRC or British Rabbit Council recognizes this breed and support two color varieties like Normal, Lilac, and Blue. The BRC states that the Californian must have a weight of 9.5 pounds with a minimum of 7.5 pounds. Meanwhile, the ARBA accepts the Californian with a maximum of 10.5 pounds.

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History of the Breed

The Californian rabbit breed looks like the Himalayas with their facial and body markings very similar to each other. The Himalayan has a longer and more cylindrical body shape. George West developed the Californian to create the best meat breed with a desirable coat. He produced the breed by combining a small Chinchilla male and a Himalayan breed.

The Californian was initially shown in the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1932. After this, the ARBA recognized the Californian in 1937, and working standards were developed. 

The Californian is considered the second most popular rabbit breed in the United States just behind the New Zealand rabbit breed.  The Californian Specialty Club was created in 1946 and was made to improve the breed and make it a good breed for the show.

The Californian Specialty Club is the only club to recognize its young members. Youth members are given the same privileges as adults. 

In the show, the Californian rabbit has won “Best in Show” four times in the ARBA events. This breed has displayed very high standards as their breeders are becoming more and more efficient and skilled. Breeders are able to create the perfect rabbits that follow show standards.

Fast Facts 

Rabbits like the Californian rabbit are one of the most intelligent breeds. In fact, many owners say that it can be trained to respond to calls with the help of treats and food. Some pet owners also say that this rabbit can learn its name and will come when it is called. 

It takes time to train rabbits, especially wild rabbits. You may need to spend many hours in a day just to teach it one trick. However, with patience and persistence, you will be able to handle your rabbit with ease.


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Rabbits can reproduce as early as a few months and are usually able to get pregnant right after giving birth. This is why rabbits like the Californians should be spayed and neutered, especially when it is kept as pets. 

Rabbits also display breeding or mating behaviors. When a female is introduced in a buck’s cage, the two will begin running after each other, with the male very eager to mate with the female. The female may be receptive to the sexual advances of the male or not.

The doe will tell the male that she is ready to breed by lying down and allowing the buck to mount her. The male will thrust on the female violently and afterward, will release her. Experts also notice that the male will show that he has successfully mated by thumping its feet. 

The female can get pregnant right away; therefore, it’s best to offer more hay and tree or plant parts so she could use these to build her nest. She will also look for a soft, warm, and secure area where she will lay her litter.

Usually, rabbit litters can be from  3 to 5, and these are born blind, helpless, and deaf. After only three to five days, it will now grow fur. These will leave the nest after ten days. The mother will nurse the babies once a day and especially at night. She will nurse them in just a few minutes and will also eat newborns, especially when the rabbit is stillborn.

Rabbits like the Californian will be ready to give birth as soon as they have delivered their babies. Imagine breeding several times a year! If you don’t do anything, you’ll end up with too many rabbits in your home or property! The answer is to prevent overpopulation by spaying or neutering your pet. This will be discussed in later sections. 

Fun Facts

Californian rabbits have coats that are not just colorful and distinctly marked but are also thicker than most rabbits. A thick coat can keep the rabbit nice and warm, even during wintertime. 

You can actually keep the rabbit cage indoors or out. When keeping pet rabbits indoors, these can become very skittish, and with an outdoor cage, you will have a weaker, more timid Californian.

Remember that you can only pick a Californian up and play with it once it has trusted you. So, take time to pet your rabbit so you can gain its trust.   

Personality and Behavior

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The Californian is ideally for show or for meat, but keeping these as pets is now more preferred. It has a mild and friendly temperament, but only after, you have gained its trust. Some rabbits are shy and may not be receptive to humans, but with regular interaction and socialization, you will be able to tame one. 

Their personalities will bloom, and you will get to know your pet better when you interact with this rabbit daily. In addition, because of its good temperament, it is chosen as one of the best pets for first-time rabbit owners, families with pets, singles, seniors, and young children.     

Californians are known for their breeding behaviors, as well. Mature rabbits will mate on a regular basis. This can lead to a population boom if you do not intervene. In addition, despite their eagerness to breed and mate, this breed is not good parents. 

The mother may create a nest, but that is all she will do. She will only be present nightly to feed her newborns and then will leave quickly. The babies are left alone by themselves all day. No wonder it only takes 10 days for baby rabbits to leave their nests. 

Finally, Californians are social rabbits. They will remain friendly with other rabbits and will even groom and eat with them. However, usually, aggression and territorial behaviors arise if the cage or enclosure is very small. 

Care of Californians

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Caring for a pet Californian is similar to how you care for other rabbit breeds. Be sure that it has the best diet, housing, companionship, and take this rabbit to a vet for proper treatment. 

The main food of Californians is hay. Hay is the bulk of their diet, but you may also give commercially prepared food. This has additional vitamins and minerals for proper health. You may feed them vegetables and fruits for a well-rounded rabbit diet.

You may also give them unlimited fresh water and hay because hay is helpful in keeping their digestive tracts healthy and very regular. Place the water in a heavy dish so that your rabbit can easily drink from it. You may also place water in an inverted container with a spout at the end. 

Give only organic produce to protect your rabbit from pesticides, toxic chemicals, and herbicides. Younger rabbits should also eat alfalfa hay because this is rich in calcium and thus important for growing bones. The adults should eat legume hay. Never just give any yard clippings to your pet. Check if it is safe to eat before feeding. 

Californians are a friendly pet, but you need to train them early. Interact by playing with your pets on a regular basis. Rabbits are social animals and thus will live happily with other rabbits and under the supervision of their owners. 

Californians will groom themselves. Sometimes a rabbit can meticulously clean itself taking extra time cleaning under the feet and ears. Rabbits may also be seen grooming one another as social behavior to bond with other rabbits. Mother rabbits may also groom their young while they are still small and vulnerable.

Californians are just like many rabbit breeds as it is active during the day and will sleep in the evenings. Their feedings must be given in the morning when they are the most active. Captive rabbits may sleep 8 hours a day, on average, and may sleep together to keep warm and remain safe. 

Supplies and Cages

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The enclosure for captive Californians should be made of wire with a strong frame. The bottom must have a removable pan or tray where the rabbit’s droppings will fall. The good thing about this is that you can easily maintain it. The floor of the cage must have soft bedding so that it is comfortable and warm for your rabbit. 

The good idea is to place a hay feeder on the side of the enclosure. Your pet can eat hay when they feel hungry or bored. For the bedding, use hay, wood pellets, or pelleted horse bedding. And to clean the cage, remove your pet and clean it with a safe cleaner or natural cleaners like white vinegar, baking soda, or fresh lemon juice. Never use household cleaners because these may contain toxic ingredients that can affect your rabbit’s health.

Take note that baby Californians are born without fur, and are blind and deaf. If you want to breed Californians, place the babies in a warm enclosure or container to keep them at the right temperatures. A large container or enclosure is better and puts a lot of hay to keep temperatures warm.

And remember that just like other breeds, captive Californians will chew on things. If kept indoors, these will chew on anything made of wood, such as your wooden cabinets, wooden walls, fixtures, and wooden furniture. However, these can also chew on electrical wiring, and this is very dangerous. 

So to avoid accidents, provide hay or chew toys aside from their food in the cage. Rabbit proof your home before freeing your pet. 

Health Concerns

Californians are a healthy breed and are not in any way affected by the disease. This may be due to strict breeding as a commercial rabbit.  The most that Californians could be affected are mites, ticks, and fleas because these are pests that are found in their natural environment. 

Also, captive rabbits are not free from common rabbit diseases. You must be mindful of your rabbit’s health and temperament at all times because any change may be due to illness. Take it to the vet as early for vaccinations and tests. 

These tests will assess the overall health and development of your rabbits. Take note that some rabbits have sensitive digestive systems and thus could be affected by different health conditions that affect the digestive tract, including enteritis, bloat, and stasis. These conditions may affect rabbits that are less than two months old. 

Always be on the lookout for ear or fur parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks. Rabbits with these pests have poor hygiene and have improperly kept surroundings and cages. Also, assess your pet for any signs of illness like lack of appetite, lack of energy, nasal and eye discharges, diarrhea, and vomiting. Check for unsteady gait, a grating of the teeth, and sleeping all day could be signs of a serious illness.

De-worming is also important for Californians. This is an important thing for rabbits that are from the wild or are bred from wild parents. No matter what kind of rabbit you have, this must be bred must be dewormed, and this must be done during the spring and fall. Use only a pea-sized amount of de-worming paste and place this small amount in the rabbit’s mouth. It will continuously lick it and swallow the paste. Follow the dose that is instructed in the container for the best results.

Dental Care

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Another very important thing in a rabbit’s health is caring for its teeth. The Californian is known for growing teeth, and their teeth can grow very fast. Make sure that the rabbit’s teeth do not overgrow by giving it more hay to chew each day. The rabbit can chew this all day, and the chewing action will grind the teeth shorter. You may also give pieces of wood, baskets or safe cage accessories that can help fill the rabbit’s teeth.  Rabbits usually chew so much because if they do not chew, their teeth will grow very long. Their teeth can grow into their mouths and jaws, which can lead to terrible pain and affect the way the rabbits eat. 

Spaying or Neutering

Because rabbits are very promiscuous, you must control their ability to breed to avoid wrecking your home. Spaying and neutering are usually done at a young age. However, some vets usually wait until the rabbits are six months old. Californian bucks are also neutered at a young age expert say that doing so will reduce aggression. Some bucks may be neutered as young as three months. Consult a vet for the best practices for spaying and neutering. 


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Californians have short white fur, depending on the type. But no matter what type of fur of Californian, it will need regular grooming. Remember to brush the fur to keep these clean, shiny, and without any pests. You must groom it with a small brush weekly. 

Grooming should be done frequently during their molting period, to prevent wool blocks and to keep the rabbit from swallowing fur. Fur cannot be digested and thus will remain in the stomach-causing blockage and more complications. This is why you should never overlook your rabbit’s grooming. 

If your rabbit is very dirty, you should avoid a bath. This can cause a lot of stress. Instead, use a damp towel to spot clean your pet. Simply wipe the rabbit down with the towel and use a dry one to dry it off. 

Trim their nails monthly and also check for overgrown teeth. Ask the vet to do this for you if you don’t have the tools. The rabbit’s big ears must also be cleaned and checked for blockage, mites, and dirt.

Comparable Breeds

The Californian is comparable to an American Chinchilla, a large rabbit that weighs about 9 to 12 pounds. It can live up to 8 years and has a commercial body shape. It has a gentle, docile, and sweet behavior, and thus, this makes it perfect for singles, families with small children, and also for seniors. But since it is a huge rabbit, it needs a large room to remain in. 

Meanwhile, the Himalayan is another comparable breed. It looks almost similar to the Californian, but it’s smaller, weighing only 2.5 to 5 pounds. It can live up to 8 years and has a cylindrical body shape. This rabbit is gentle, docile, and calm nature; therefore, a good choice among people who live in a small space or apartment, for singles and also for seniors.

Availability – Where to Get One

The price of purchasing a Californian may depend on whether you are getting it from a breeder or a retailer. The price may depend on whether you are getting a Californian for a pet or for show. The price can depend on gender, size, coat quality, and appearance.

When looking for a reliable breeder, make sure that you are getting a rabbit that is healthy and free from any genetic problems. You must purchase only from reliable breeders who develop captive-bred Californian rabbits. Californians can be featured in trade fairs and farm events to display the breed along with its lovely features. Shows and contests may also feature this breed, and most are supported by the ARBA or other local clubs and groups for the Californian.

How to Care for a Californian Rabbit

This is a summary of what you should do to care for a Californian. Consider that caring for a captive-bred Californian is just like caring for other breeds. Your pets must have the correct diet, housing, companionship, and also, you must take it to a vet for correct medical treatment for preventive health care. 

The main source of food of Californians in captivity is hay. The Californian may also eat pellets that are designed for rabbits, vegetables, and fruits to create a well-rounded diet. You may also give them food from their natural habitats like seeds, nectars, grasses, twigs, and weeds.

Always keep fresh water and hay inside the rabbit’s cage. Place water in a large, heavy shallow dish so that your rabbit can drink, but it won’t knock it over as it moves inside its enclosure. 

Always remember that captive-bred rabbits can only become good pets when you invest time to train them. Train and interact with it daily. Captive rabbits are social animals and will always need a companion. Therefore don’t just get one or two rabbits; get three or more so your pet can grow healthy, with a good temperament. 


Can Californians eat meat?

No, Californians are herbivores that mean that will not eat meat or insects but only plants or plant parts. Californians will eat plant and tree parts like roots, bark, leaves, stems, seeds, flowers, twigs, and many more. 

Do Californians eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, you can give feed your pet Californians some fruits and vegetables. Aside from fresh fruits and veggies, Californians will also eat commercially-prepared pellets or rabbit food which have nutrients that your pet will need to remain healthy. 

How do you tame a rabbit?

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

Will Californians eat their poop?

Yes, Californians are just like other rabbits; these will eat their poop because these still have nutrients in them. The rabbit will eat their poop once; they won’t do it the second time. This behavior seems to be true for all breeds.

Can you keep two or more Californians in one cage?

Yes, you can keep two or more rabbits in one cage for as long as the cage is large to keep your pets in. You must do all you can to prepare a large, comfortable, and safe cage for your pet rabbits to stay in.

Do you keep a Californian’s cage indoors or outdoors?

You can place the cage of your pet indoors to protect it from the sun and rain, but most indoor areas are small and may not be enough for a group of Californians. With an outdoor cage, the rabbits may need to deal with the cold, but at least they will have a large area to play and run. 

Are Californians bites dangerous?

Yes, Californian bites are dangerous because your rabbit may have rabies. Also, the rabbit teeth are huge, and this can tear off flesh leaving you with a severe wound.

Are Californians territorial animals?

Experts say that Californians can become territorial when kept in a small enclosure. Males may become very aggressive to other males during the breeding season. They may bite and kick their opponents to establish a hierarchy in the group. 

Should you pick up a wild rabbit from the forest?

Never pick a wild animal like a rabbit from the forest. This won’t be tamed, and you won’t be able to take it home for a pet. If you see an injured rabbit, call animal services right away. 

Are Californians endangered species?

Because of the efforts of breeders, the Californian rabbit remains a thriving breed, and it can be found in trade fairs, pet stores, farms, and in loving homes. It is not an endangered creature.

Where do Californian rabbits live?

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

What do Californian rabbits eat?

Californians are herbivorous, which means that they will eat only plants. They will eat all plant parts such as roots, bark, seeds, weeds, flowers, and leaves. For captive rabbits, these will also eat commercially-prepared pellets, fruits, and vegetables. 

Can Californians swim?

Yes, Californians and other rabbits can swim but not as good as other animals. And you don’t want to wet a rabbit because this can become very stressed and stress makes a rabbit sick.

Can you keep a Californian as a pet?

Yes, you can keep it as a pet because it has docile and sweet. It is a good pet for families and for families with small children because of its sweet and loving disposition.

Will a mother Californian eat her young?

There are some species that will eat their young. Experts still think why rabbits do this, but if you spot the Californian doe eating her young, remove it from the litter or nest and don’t allow it to breed again.

How do you clean a Californian’s cage?

You must first remove the rabbit and place it in another cage. Remove the pan where the droppings are and dispose of the droppings properly. With a hose and cleaning product, clean the cage walls, bottom, accessories, and the rabbit toys. Dry everything before placing your pet back in.

How do you take care of baby rabbits?

If you’re breeding baby rabbits, place these in a comfortable and warm area. Feed the kits soft, pureed food, and keep these warm. Protect these from predators and from your house cat or pet dog because these can eat them. For wild-caught bunnies, always contact animal services to have these rescued ASAP. 

What happens when the teeth of Californians grow longer?

When the teeth of the rabbit grow longer, the teeth can pierce its mouth and lower gums, causing a lot of pain and may also affect its appetite. This is why your pet rabbit must visit the dentist regularly. You must offer hay for the rabbit to chew. Hay can slowly grind their teeth shorter. 

How often do rabbits should go to the vet?

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

Will, it hurt when a Californian hits you with its hind legs?

Yes, Californians have very sharp claws even on its hind feet. It can kick very hard with its hind feet, which can cause so much damage. The rabbit will do this if it feels threatened and escapes from predators. 

Can you leave a Californian indoors and 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 cover areas that the rabbit can’t go. Also, rabbit-proof your home before you let your rabbits out of their cage.

Are Californians able to escape their cages?

Yes, Californians will escape their cages. These will not jump over their cages but can be strong enough to knock it down. Larger Californians are known to be good kickers and may kick their cages or fences to escape. 

Do Californian rabbits have good hearing?

The Californians have smaller ears compared to other rabbits with lopped ears; this rabbit has good hearing. It is able to hear its predators or any threats even from far away and has time to jump and escape.

Can rabbits see well even in the dark?

Yes, rabbits have good vision even at night. This is the reason why some species prefer to forage for food even at night. Rabbits have a good sense of smell as well to allow them to detect predators that are found nearby.  

Are rabbit diseases harmful to humans?

Yes, some rabbit diseases can humans. Some may only affect rabbits. If your rabbit is ill, you must take it to the vet at once to diagnose the type of disease and get appropriate treatment at once. You must also understand the different signs of illnesses such as poor appetite, sneezing, diarrhea, constipation, and behavioral changes and take it to the vet if you notice any of these symptoms. 

Can you prevent a Californian from eating his poop?

Yes, you can stop it from eating poop by removing the droppings right away after seeing them defecating. But no matter what happens, these animals will still eat their poop because they know that it has nutrients in them. But the second time they defecate this, they won’t ingest this anymore.

How large must a Californian’s cage be?

A Californian rabbit should be kept in a large enclosure considering its size.  For two rabbits, double this size. Always ensure that your pet rabbits have enough space to play, eat, and sleep comfortably without overcrowding. 

Can rabbits survive the cold?

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

Can rabbits stay in the desert?

Some rabbit breeds are able to successfully live in desserts. This rabbit breed lives in burrows and in holes where it spends more time and just comes out in the evening to forage to escape the hot sun. 

Can Californians remain outdoors?

A pet Californian rabbit may be allowed to stay outdoors, but you must rabbit-proof your yard before you set it free. Again, use a portable perimeter fence to limit the area where the rabbit can roam free. Make sure to bury the poles of the fence to prevent the rabbit from escaping. 

Do you need a heater inside a Californian’s cage?

In cold areas, you can use a lamp to provide heat. But in extremely cold weather, use a portable heater and place this near the rabbit cage for a nice and warm place for your pet to live in. This is important, especially for incubating baby bunnies.

How do you train a rabbit?

Just like a dog, you can train your pet rabbit using treats, food, and positive reinforcement.

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