Himalayan Rabbit- Child Friendly
by Robert Hudson
The Himalayan rabbit is a very old breed with unique features. Here we take a closer look at this adorable breed, it’s history, traits, care and health.
It is the only rabbit breed to be cylindrical in body shape. It’s like a loaf of bread with ears! It is also the only breed with an extra set of nipples.
|Black, blue, chocolate, lilac points, white body|
Black was the original point color. The others were
added later with cross breeds.
|Ideal weight 4 pounds|
Their temperament is easy going and affectionate, making them a perfect pet for children and seniors. Some rabbit breeds may be a bit nippy and territorial, but not the Himalayan . Of course small children should be supervised when interacting with a rabbit for the animals protection.
Did you know…
All of the over 300 domestic rabbit breeds were bred from one wild specie… just like the dog and wolf- the European rabbit- European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). It is currently listed as endangered. Domestic rabbits have lost most of their natural instincts and are incapable of surviving in the wild.
The Himalayan Rabbit first appeared in America in the early 1900s and was one of the first breeds to be recognized by the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA). Himalayan rabbits were one of the earliest breed of rabbits, dating back thousands of years. Its’ origin is thought to be the middle east and Asia, but there is no records of any kind. The breed is considered rare now because of a low number of breeders world wide.
A pregnant rabbit is referred to be “in kindle.” The gestation period lasts 31 days. The female (doe) gives birth to a litter of baby rabbits (kits or kittens), which are totally blind and hairless until they are 10 days old. The typical litter size is six or seven young but can be as high as 12. The young rabbits are weaned at four weeks of age. A doe can have as many as five litters per year.
A healthy diet consists of 70 percent high-quality hay and the rest a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and pellets. Feed your rabbit greens that are high in fiber and nutrients, such as romaine lettuce, and fruits should be low in sugar.
The five most common illnesses in rabbits are:
- Gastrointestinal (GI) Stasis
- Dental Disease
- Uterine Tumors
- Head Tilt
- Respiratory Tract Infections
Signs of Distress
- Change in appetite
- A wet nose
- Runny eyes
- Scabby ears
- Excessive drooling
- A dull coat
- Sore spots on their feet
Not to be confused with
The Himalayan Rex is the Rex breed with Himalayan colors. The Rex has a different type of fur coat than the Himalayan breed. It is short hair that is very plush and silky to the touch. The undercoat is a soft down covered by thicker hairs that press down on the undercoat. This is what makes it so soft, but it also makes the rabbit get cold quicker and overheat faster. Ideally they best tolerate temperatures from 60 to 70 F. It has a more rounded body than the Himalayan breed. In the UK, the Himalayan rex is recognized as its own breed apart from other Rexs.
Overall health of Himalayan Rabbit
Himalayans don’t really have medical problems specific to their breed. The breed may contract issues common to all rabbits. The most common is dental issues because their teeth never stop growing. Sufficient amount of hay in their diet and chew toys will keep the teeth worn down.
One of the most agonizing conditions is known as flystrike. When the rabbits rear end is damp with clumps of feces stuck to their fur, it attracts flies that nest in the area and hatch eggs. The developing flies can literally eat the flesh. It is often fatal and just imagine how painful it is.
Three main factors lead to the development of this condition. The fly is attracted to lay its eggs on the rabbit’s skin by open wounds, and soiled/matted fur. Second, the rabbit either cannot or does not feel like turning round to groom itself around the base of the tail and anus. Third, damp and soiled bedding is an ideal environment for flies to lay eggs, and for maggot growth and development. When the maggots hatch on the rabbit, and if the rabbit cannot groom or clean itself, these fly larvae survive, thrive, spread and may cause a tremendous amount of damage as they eat through the rabbit’s tissues.https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/rabbits—fly-strike
Keep it sanitary
What poses the greatest health risk is an unclean and filthy enclosure. It causes urinary infections, eye infections, respiratory problems, and death. Clean the cage/enclosure weekly or more often as well as the bedding. Rabbits can be litter box trained, but you must keep the box clean and not allow build up of feces or urine. Provide clean water free of contaminants of feces and other cage pollutants.
A Rex named Speedy
Speedy the Rex was a fairly well known Himalayan Rex thanks to Rachel Dejong who dedicated a blog to him.
He reached 9 years and 7 months old when he passed away in May of 2021. “Rexes are probably the most relaxed in temperament of all rabbit breeds. They are all so the most playful and interactive with people in that they will play like a cat or a dog. And with toys which I have found to a very rewarding experience. They also have shorter fur than other rabbits with short guard hairs that makes their fur look velvety and plush. It is undeniably the softest fur to touch. They also have short curled whiskers,” Rachel told me.
Rachel loved to take Speedy on outdoor adventures around the English countryside. A harness vest and leash keep him safe while he is taking in all the smells and feeling the earth on his feet.
“He took to it very quickly. I think he would have done it straight away but I tried him with just wearing the harness first. After about half an hour he just ignored the harness so then I tried the leash in the garden. Again he didn’t seem bothered by it, so we tried short 10 minutes walks. Again he seemed to enjoy it so I gradually increased the time of the walks. He just enjoyed the exploring so we just started to take him everywhere with us. He used to get moody with us if we left him at home so he just went everywhere with us.”
Each Rabbit is Different
She explains, “With my previous rabbits I would never have been able to get them used to wearing a harness and leash. I tried but they just hated the harness and I never tried the leash on them. I’m a believer that if it is meant to be then they will take to it straight away like Speedy did. If they don’t then we shouldn’t force them to as they will never be happy and end up fearful of you.”
Articles coming over the next few weeks include How to litterbox train your rabbit, Housing/enclosures for rabbits and more.