Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes but there are three distinct types.
Fancy breeds: Rabbits for showing and exhibiting (as well as being pets!).
Fur breeds: Originally bred for their fur or meat.
Rex breeds: No guard hairs which makes them very soft - rather like velvet.
Angora: This breed has particularly long hair, up to 5in/12cm, needs constant grooming and is very high maintenance. We would not recommend this breed a good pet.
Belgian Hare: A large rabbit with some similar characteristics to a Hare. It has long everything! Ears, body and legs. Another breed unsuitable as a pet as it is very large.
Dutch: The stereotypical rabbit! It is coloured with a white stripe around the front of the body and a white blaze on the face.
English: A white rabbit with some distinctive markings. A line of colour along the spine, around the eyes and on the ears.
Flemish Giant: These are the heavyweights of the rabbit world, weighing in at a minimum of around a stone!
Himalyan: Pure white body with coloured ears, legs, face and tail looking like they have been dipped in ink or chocolate. It also has red eyes!
Lop: The following all have one characteristic in common - big long ears.
English Lop: Has extremely long ears not for the beginner
Cashmere Lop: A Lop with long hair although not as high maintenance as the Angora.
Dwarf Lop: A very popular breed for showing and keeping as a pet. Small and compact and manageable with long ears
As the name suggests, these breeds were originally kept for their coats. Some of them have fur that simulates or is very similar to other animals, e.g. the Silver Fox.
With no guard hairs the Rex really does look as if it is coated in velvet. Couple this with being a medium size and nice and friendly, they make good pets. The coat of underfur with no guard hairs only really came into existence in about 1920 as one of the many results of intensive breeding.
Nearly all wild rabbits are the same light brown colour, which means they are camouflaged in their natural habitat. The different colours of domestic rabbits have come about through selective breeding. Here is just a taster of what is out there!
Agouti: The colour of a wild rabbit, a speckley browny grey.
Albino: A pink eyed white rabbit.
Black: Shut your eyes.. thats the colour!
White: Snow, paper and table tennis balls all fall into this category.
Blue: More of a bluey grey.
Chocolate: A rich brown.
Lilac: The slightly lilacy grey of a pigeon.
Chinchilla: Similar to the 'agouti' colouring but with all of the brown hairs turned into white giving the rabbit an almost metallic look.
Fox: Any coloured rabbit with a white tummy
Steel: A dark version of 'agouti'
Himalayan: A white rabbit with red eyes and coloured ears, nose, legs, feet and tail.
Butterfly: A white rabbit with coloured markings on the nose, ears and back.
For more information contact with the Rabbit Council of NZ.
The Rabbit Council of New Zealand Inc. is an organisation thats objectives are: