I’ve never really thought of any rabbits as being endangered. Come on, we all know the phrase, “breeding like rabbits.” How could they ever possibly be on a watch list, let alone an endangered list. I’ve often seen Franco Rios comment about rare rabbit breeds. I’ve even visited Bob Whitman’s website, Rare Bits N Pieces, which currently doesn’t appear to be running. Even with all of that, I never really thought much about rare rabbit breeds until recently.
While reading The Field Guide to Rabbits, I noticed that a few breeds were listed with the American Livestock Breed Conservancy. Eleven breeds of rabbits are listed by the organization, including three breeds (American, American Chincilla, and Silver Fox) that have less than 500 animals in the world, and less than 50 registrations here in the U.S.
I have been considering starting a new breeding program within the rabbitry just for myself. I thought one of the rare breeds would be fun to start with. But the more I researched the quicker I found that there are some obstacles to overcome.
The first is where to get stock. See, we can go to any rabbit show in America and get a holland lop. The quality will vary from location to location, but certainly there is no shortage of rabbits. But what about a breed like Creme D’Argent? How often do you see them at a show? Even within the small numbers you see at a show, are any even available? So I began to search the internet and sure enough there are a few breeders here in Michigan.
The second concern I had was competition. I enjoy competition, well I should say, I enjoy winning! But if you go to a show, and you’re the only breeder and you take best of breed, how satisfying would that be? Even if there are two breeders and you trade wins, I think that it still would leave somewhat of an empty feeling.
I also thought how difficult it would be to win legs, or grand a rare breed rabbit. The issue again wouldn’t be breeders with better rabbits, but simply the lack of breeders. I would think that some breeders would consider giving a couple rabbits to their spouse, and a couple to their children, just so they could get legs. I’m just not that guy.
With all these concerns, would it still be worth raising one of these rare breeds. It might be if you were successful in getting the breed off the ALBC list. You would have to talk up the breed in a big way. You may even need to encourage new breeders by giving rabbits away. The challenge is that most of the breeds on the list are larger rabbits. New breeders seem to want the smaller, fancy breeds. So it would have to be sold on merits other than size. I go back to my example of the Creme D’Argent. Have you seen the color of that breed? It is very cool! Can you imagine not having to worry about showable colors, theres only one color! Don’t get me wrong, color is very important in the Creme D’Argent.
So maybe you could consider raising one of these rare breeds. It might be just for fun, but who knows, maybe you might be an important factor in bringing one of these breeds back. Heres a list of endangered breeds and their status according to the American Livestock Breed Conservancy.
Threatened (Less than 1,000 worldwide & less than 100 US registrations)
Blanc de Hotot
Three Little Ladies Rabbitry
p.s. Thanks Jess for the blog idea!
© 2008, Three Little Ladies Rabbitry Blog. All rights reserved.Rob Usakowski