The Rex Rabbit is a breed of rabbit developed in France in 1919. Their unique, dense, plush, velvet-like fur, was caused by a mutation seen in wild rabbits in France in the late 19th century. The Rex mutation is recessive and causes the hair to protrude outwards from the body, instead of lying flat, and the guard hairs to be shortened to the length of the undercoat. After development of the Mini Rex, some people began to refer to the Rex rabbit as the standard Rex rabbit. The official breed name used by ARBA and BSR is the Rex rabbit.
The Rex Rabbit can be housed outdoors year-round in warmer climates as well as in cooler climates if the correct accommodations are made. It can be fed a combination of commercial rabbit pellets and timothy hay. Additionally, the Rex tends to be a hardy breed with few health issues.
History and origin
The Rex is a variety of rabbit recognized by its plush fur that is often described as having a velvety texture. The breed originated in France in 1919 as the result of a recessive genetic mutation leading to guard hairs that are no longer than the undercoat. This first appeared in a litter of wild gray rabbits. The Rex Rabbit was first shown publicly at the Paris International Rabbit Show in 1924 and has been recognized as a standard breed in parts of Europe since 1925. The Rex was first imported to the United States in 1924 following the Paris International Rabbit Show and has since become one of the most popular domestic rabbit breeds. The Rex mutation is also found in cats (like the Cornish Rex), dogs (the Curly Coated Retriever), horses (the Curly Horse), and rats. Rex cats, however, have a curly coat that varies in coat volume, whereas Rex rabbits have a significantly thicker coat, with very small curls in it.
ARBA Rex Standard
The Official ARBA Rex Standard is copyrighted material, and as such cannot be inserted in this article. However, good general information on the Rex Rabbit and its 16 recognized varieties can be found at: http://nationalrexrc.org/varieties.htm. Individuals interested in owning and/or breeding or exhibiting Rex rabbits, are encouraged to Join the National Rex Rabbit Club. NRRC members receive a full color guide book outlining in detail the Rex Rabbit Standard, a detailed description of each recognized variety, as well as information on care, management, and exhibition of this beautiful breed.
Currently, Rex Rabbits are kept as pets, as show rabbits, and for fur and meat production. The Rex remains the number one breed used in fur production for garments and toys as their fur lacks protruding guard hairs which in other breeds is often shorn and plucked after the tanning process to resemble other animal furs. The bulk of furs produced in the United States are more of a bi-product to the primary purpose of meat production. The overwhelming number of furs produced in this country are used in the creation of felt as the fur quality of commercially raised rabbits is of too low a quality for the garment trade. See: Production of Rabbit Skins and Hair for Textiles
The fur of the Rex Rabbit should be between 1/2 and 7/8 an inch in length (1.3-2.2 centimeters) and have a dense and plush texture that is often described as “velvety.” The fur is often very dense and plush because of its short guard hairs and stands almost perpendicular to the skin. The Rex mutation also causes the fur to curl in certain areas, but this curling is rarely visible with the exception of areas where the fur is longer, such as behind the ears. Additionally, the mutation causes the whiskers to shorten and curl or not appear, though this is not shown in all rabbits. The Rex is a medium sized rabbit with a commercial, round body and an ideal weight range of 7.5-10.5 pounds (3.4-4.76 kilograms), although females can weigh as much as 10.5 pounds. The Rex has a slightly broader head than other breeds of rabbit, proportionate and upright ears as well as toe nails that match the color of its fur on proportionally smaller feet. As with most larger breeds, the female (doe) has a dewlap, a large flap of skin under the chin.
Burke's Backyard notes that Rex Rabbits are claimed to be one of the most intelligent breeds of rabbits. The Rex Rabbit is often used as a foster mother for kits (young rabbits) who need to be removed from litters that are too large for the natural mother to provide adequate milk to all. This breed has a low to moderate activity level and can jump as high as three feet. Like most rabbits, the Rex is most active during the evening and early morning hours and prefers to rest during the day. Due to its playful, intelligent and relaxed nature, this breed is often described as being "cat-like".
Rex Rabbits can easily be litter trained, but owners should not use clay or cedar-based litters as they may pose a health hazard to the animal. A Rex Rabbit can also be trained to do a variety of tricks, such as coming when called and standing on command. However, rabbits often do not feel the need to perform without adequate motivation, such as a favorite treat. The Rex is recognized as one of the gentler breeds of rabbits and is an excellent choice for families with children, so long as the children are educated on proper handling.
The Rex Rabbits is available in many different colors: Amber, Black, Blue, Broken (any recognized color/variety in conjunction with white as well as Tri-color - white in conjunction with two colors), Californian, Castor, Chinchilla, Chocolate, Lilac, Lynx, Opal, Otter (Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac), Red, Sable, Seal and White. See: Rex Varieties
Feeding and housing
The Rex Rabbit can be housed outdoors year-round in warmer climates as well as in cooler climates if the correct accommodations are made. Generally, Rex Rabbits are better accustomed to living in the cold than the heat, but they cannot tolerate extremes of either kind. For rabbits kept outdoors in colder environments, it is necessary to provide a shelter from wind and drafts. Many outdoor rabbits live in barns or covered hutches in the winter.
A second option is to house the Rex Rabbit indoors, which is recommended in some climates. The Rex can be litter box trained and does very well as a house rabbit. Rex Rabbits housed in wire cages should be provided with some type of wooden flooring or a mat to prevent the development of sore hocks on their feet.
The Rex tends to be a hardy breed with few health issues. Some lines of Rex are prone to sore hock. Feed with an excessively high protein percentage can also result in persistent molting.
Breeds derived from the Rex
- Domestic rabbit
- List of rabbit breeds
- House rabbit
- Rabbit hair
- List of types of fur
- Fur farming
- British Rabbit Council
- American Rabbit Breeders' Association
- ARBA Standard of Perfection, 2006–2010
- Ruben, Dr. Dawn. “Choosing a Rex Rabbit.” PetPlace.com. 2009.
- “Rabbits.” Butterfly Creek. 2004.
- American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc.
- National Rex Rabbit Club
- Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations
- Burke, Don. “Rex Rabbit.” Burke’s Backyard. 2005.
- “Rex Rabbit Fact File.” Pet Peoples Place. 2009.
- "Fact Sheets: Rex Rabbit". Burke's Backyard. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
- National Mini Rex Rabbit Club