The New Zealand rabbit is a big, white, strong, meaty rabbit that weighs from 9-12 pounds. It has a lifespan of 7 to 10 years and has a medium to large sized body that is commercial built, comparable to a Belgian Hare and Flemish Giant. Like other rabbits, it also has ideally round hips, a well filled loin as well as ribs that look very proportionate with its firm shoulders for balance. It also displays upright ears and eyes that are often red or pinkish and tend to be far-sighted.
It has 4 colors: red, black, white and broken. As for the broken one, it is a solid color mixed with white. Although sometimes crossbreeding gives out a different color, the most common ones are gold tipped steel and chestnut agouti, while blue is on its way for development. Furthermore, its coat displays a dense and luxurious tone and goes back to its original place even if it is brushed the wrong way. The undercoat is soft and thick at the same time and also has thick and harsher guard hairs.
Behavior and Temperament
New Zealand rabbits are best as companion rabbits. They are known for being social, friendly, out-going and calm. Even though they are large in size, they are very easy to handle and very clever. They are easily-trained, docile and affectionate. In addition, they love being caressed, petted and loved. This rabbit breed goes well with young kids and even with other pets because it is rarely aggressive and very relaxed about being handled.
Although New Zealand rabbits are okay with their human family, they are better kept as a trio or duo because their bond can never fully be substituted with human companionship. If it doesn’t have other co-rabbit to play with, it will seek for more time and attention from its master.
New Zealand rabbits are not biters; but they are not the easiest indoor pet to take care of and train. To further lessen their biting tendencies, they should be given toys to nibble and chew on. In addition, training them how to properly litter may be hard at first, but it can be learned in a few months because they are clever.
Health and Care
New Zealand rabbit’s diet is also the same with other rabbits, which must consist of high-quality hay, vegetables, and balanced of fruits. Still, you should also be aware of what you feed them because there are certain foods they are not allowed. Food items that are too sugary and contain excessive acids must be avoided to prevent digestive issues.
Although New Zealand rabbits are generally considered healthy, they also have common health problems such as overgrown teeth. This health issue occurs when their teeth keeps on growing, thus they need to chew on things to prevent excessive growth which is likely to develop extremely pain. To prevent this, check you rabbit’s teeth once a week and keep a regular diet of hay, which is a big help in keeping the teeth in a manageable length.
Being exposed to draft, stress, and sudden change of temperature will reduce their resistance to illness. Conjunctivitis, bloat, hairball obstructions and ear mites are also common problems of this rabbit. If you see any symptoms of these health issues, immediately seek proper medical attention.
History and Origin of New Zealand Rabbit
The history of this rabbit breed is often told in two stories. First story states that although the rabbit’s name is New Zealand, it did not originate in New Zealand but in California. Although some rabbit enthusiast believe this story, many consider this as a myth.
The second story, which is the more popular version, states that a Flemish Giant copulated with a Belgian Hare and resulted in new breed of red New Zealand rabbit around 1910. Afterwards, William Preshaw independently created a white colored New Zealand rabbit by mating Angoras with white American rabbits and also with Flemish Giants. Since then, the white New Zealand rabbit gained popularity was accepted by ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) in 1920.
Today, New Zealand Rabbits are safe and not considered as endangered species. In the wild, this breed is plentiful and enjoys the companion of other rabbits.