New Zealand Rabbit

Updated: August 18, 2020
New Zealand Rabbit

New Zealand rabbits are one of the largest rabbit breeds in the world. These giant rabbits are very calm and gentle. In fact, they are famous for their relaxed and friendly character.

Are you thinking of adopting a New Zealand rabbit? In this AnimalWised breed sheet, we're going to go through the origin, character, care and more of these rabbits. Keep reading to learn more!

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  1. Origin of the New Zealand rabbit
  2. Characteristics of the New Zealand rabbit
  3. New Zealand rabbit colors
  4. New Zealand rabbit character
  5. New Zealand rabbit care
  6. New Zealand rabbit health

Origin of the New Zealand rabbit

Despite their name, New Zealand rabbits actually originated in California in the year 1919. They were the result of crossing American white rabbits with Flemish giant rabbits and Angora rabbits. They were originally made for the meat industry. Thankfully, nowadays they are most commonly known as a pet.

This rabbit breed was registered by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1920. Currently, different colors are official apart from white, as we will see below.

Characteristics of the New Zealand rabbit

The New Zealand rabbit is one of the giant rabbit breeds, weighing up to 5.5 kilograms. In general, the average weight is about 4.5 kilograms except in the case of Red New Zealanders, as this variety is the smallest. They do not exceed 3.5 kilos in weight. Their life expectancy ranges from approximately 8 to 12 years.

These rabbits have an extremely muscular, long and compact body, with a proportionally large, broad and round head. Their legs are long and strong, especially their hind legs. Their cheeks are round and their ears are long and erect. Their coat is short and very soft. There are four varieties depending on their color. Their hair grows close to their skin and is satin.

New Zealand rabbit colors

There are 4 colors accepted by the ARBA:

  • Red: rabbits of this variety have a bright curb-colored coat and brown eyes. They can have the belly of a slightly different tone, although if it is too different they may not be considered purebred. It is also possible that they present a whitish hue at the base of the tail, as well as on the foot pads.
  • Black: his coat is jet black, always uniform, having a slate blue sub-color and dark brown eyes.
  • Broken: being the most recent variety, the broken ones have the coat of any color of the race (red or black) combined with white. They have a pattern called broken or marked, in which the colored parts have to coincide with the standard of the red and black varieties.
  • White: the first variety to emerge, their coat is pure white, and they have pink eyes. Stains or discolorations are not allowed on any part of the animal's body to be considered pure.

New Zealand rabbit character

New Zealand rabbits have a friendly nature. They are very sociable and peaceful rabbits. They are never aggressive, unless being threatened or put in a dangerous situation. They are also very sensitive and attentive to their loved ones. They like to receive affection and to remain in the lap of their owners for hours. They are also very playful so they will need plenty of play time with their caregivers and fellow rabbit.

These rabbits are suitable for children as they are very calm and allow us to hold them. Nevertheless, we should demand that children treat them with gentleness and respect as they are small animals that are vulnerable to loud sounds and rough handling.

These rabbits also adapt well when living with other animals. They are very calm, loving and patient. This rabbits can be adopted by single people or families.

New Zealand rabbit care

As with all rabbits, New Zealand rabbits will need a healthy and balanced diet to maintain a healthy life. The base of this diet is high quality hay and also a wide variety of vegetables. As a treat you can give them a small piece of fruit, but stay away from commercial treats as they often lead to obesity and other health issues.

Rabbits are usually happier when they are accompanied by another rabbit. This is why it's recommended to adopt them in pairs. Make sure their cage or cages are big enough for them and that they are clean. Another important factor is play. Californian rabbits are very playful and will need plenty of rabbit toys and time to play with their rabbit companion and caregiver. You must also remember to allow them enough time outside of their cage. This way, you can reinforce physical activities, as well as avoid certain health issues, such as anxiety or aggression.

When it comes to their hygiene, you will need to brush their coat once per week and a bath whenever they truly need them. Other times, you can simply use a damp cloth and gently stroke them with it to clean any dirt they may have.

Lastly, you must remember to take them to the veterinarian for regular check-ups so as to detect any possible health issues early on

New Zealand rabbit health

New Zealand rabbits adapt best to temperate climates. They can easily suffer from high temperatures and extremely low temperatures. This is why we should always be careful when letting them outside. On days where we see that the climate isn't adequate, it's best to allow them to play indoors. This way we avoid that they suffer from heat stroke, hypothermia, etc.

Another important aspect of their health is their teeth. A rabbit's teeth never stop growing, this is why we must provide them with high quality hay to chew on in order for them to maintain healthy dental care. Learn more in our article about abnormal rabbit teeth.

In addition to suffering with climatic adversities, the Californian rabbit can also develop certain common diseases in rabbits. To avoid these and catch them early on before they get serious, it's important to take our rabbit to the veterinarian for regular check-ups. We must also keep up with their vaccination and deworming schedule.

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New Zealand Rabbit