What’s big, bold and blue? The Blue Rabbit of Beveren (a small town near Antwerp)
This rabbit breed is sometimes referred to as:
- The Beveren,
- The Beverin,
- The Blue Beveren,
- The Pointed Beverin,
- The Giant Beverin,
- The Big Blue Rabbit of Beveren,
- The Giant Beveren,
- The Pointed Beveren,
- or The Big Blue Beveren Bunny
The Beveren Rabbit breed is considered to be one of the oldest and largest of all the breeds of fur rabbits. It is not one of the most popular breeds in the United States but there are many breed fanciers that just love the big Beveren Rabbit.
This breed originated in a small town called Beveren, near Antwerp, Belgium, inthe late 1800s, and was initially raised as a meat rabbit.
This big Belgian beauty first appeared in a Blue variety and after discovering many shades of blue in litters the preferred color for furriers was the light Lavender Blue.
A Beveren Rabbit is a large breed rabbit with a ‘Mandolin shape’ topline (also known as a semi-arch body type) with dense and glossy rollback fur. They are playful as pet rabbits and make good mothers to kits that grow very quickly.
A brief history of the Beveren Rabbit: a domestic rabbit breed
It is believed that all domestic rabbit breeds came from one single species; the European Wild Rabbit.
The Blue Beveren rabbit breed originated in Beveren, a small town in Belgium, in 1898, and according to the National Beveren Club, it is believed to be from the same breeding stock as the St. Nicholas Blue Rabbit, the Brabancon Rabbit and the Blue Vienna Rabbit.
Around the same time, in another small town neighbouring Beveren, called Sint Niklaas (St. Nicholas), local rabbit breeders had a breeding program that included the blue rabbits from Beveren, Brabancon, Flemish Giants and other local rabbits to produce better meat and fur rabbits.
Their initial breeding attempts produced kittens in a blue color and some in a white color, some with white necklace markings or white feet or other white markings.
By 1906, both the blue rabbits from St. Nicholas and the blue rabbits from neighbouring Beveren were competing against each other in the same shows. The breeders argued about the two blue rabbit breeds being so similar in appearance and called after neighbouring towns – Beveren and St. Nicholas. This was too confusing.
Eventually a compromise was reached and the solid blue variety would be called the Blue Beveren and the Blue and White variety would be called the St. Nicholas Blue (Sint Niklaas Blues). The St. Nicholas Blue rabbit breed is now on the verge of extinction.
Given all the blue variety rabbits supposedly used, and complications, in the creation of this beautiful Blue Beveren, it is hardly surprising it was initially simply referred to as the blue rabbit of Beveren.
The Beveren rabbit came in many different shades of blue from dark to light and in different sizes too. In the early 1900s there was not an agreed standard for the blue Beveren but the furriers preferred the lighter shades of blue for pelt; especially the first-time ‘light lavender blue’ color variety.
Then the Beveren Rabbits arrived in France where they were interbred with the Blue Vienna rabbit breed in large numbers.
Mrs A. M. Martin was responsible for importing The Blue Beveren rabbit breed into the United Kingdom.
In 1905, the large breed Blue Beveren was first shown in Norwich, in the County of Norfolk in England.
It was instantly popular with its impressive mandolin body type and lovely blue coat and shortly became the most popular fur rabbit in the United Kingdom; and was recognized by the British Rabbit Council, (BRC).
Initially Beveren rabbits were all blue but the BRC now recognizes 5 ‘self’ colors:
- Solid Blue – light lavender blue
- Blue-eyed white
Domestic rabbits only appeared for the first time in the United States in the early 1900s but had existed for much longer in Europe.
It was around 1915 when the Beveren Rabbit arrived in the United States and was then recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1920; recognized with the spelling Beverin Rabbit, not Beveren Rabbit.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) later corrected the spelling to the Beveren Rabbit.
There were initially 2 sizes – the Standard Beveren and the Giant Beveren.
The Giant Beveren variety did not last long and is now extinct. Today, even the standard Beveren rabbit breed is not as popular as it once. They are still bred in Belgium and other European countries, as both fur rabbits and meat rabbits, but numbers have fallen away in the United States.
The American Livestock Conservancy (ALC), in the United States, has listed the Beveren Rabbit breed on its ‘watch’ list for extinction.
The National Beveren Club was established in order to support the creation of the new breed – the Beveren Rabbit.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) publishes its breed standards in a guide called the Standard of Perfection
Color and patterns on the fur of a Beveren Rabbit
The ARBA recognizes 3 different coat colors in Beveren rabbits – the Blue Variety (the original color), the Black Variety and the White Variety.
Beveren rabbits can also have brown and lilac colored coats but these colors are not recognized by the ARBA.
The Pointed Beveren is a special variety that is available in the same 5 colors but each color has white-tipped guard hairs.
There is a separate ARBA standard for each color variety of the Beveren Rabbit breed:
- The Blue Variety – must be a solid shade of light lavender blue, right down to the base, with no dark blue color or silvering.
- The Black Variety – must be a glossy, jet-black color, with no silvering
- The White Variety – should be white, not off-white or ivory
- The Brown Variety – should have an even medium brown tone across the coat, but is still not recognized by the ARBA
- The Lilac Variety – is not recognized by the ARBA and therefore does not have a standard
The Beveren Rabbit appearance
The Beveren Rabbit is a large and hardy breed of rabbit.
It hasa Mandolin shape body type, (semi-arched) that’s muscular with a broad meaty back. Its body type is as broad as it is deep and well filled out with a deep firm loin.
It is a medium length body, strong legs, back feet that are much larger than its front feet, a wide head, large erect ears, and a cute cotton tail.
The back of the shoulder area is firm and strong with a well-sprung (puffed-out) rib cage.
Of all the breeds of fur rabbits, the Beveren rabbit has rollback fur, and the fur length is longer than average, at about 1 to 1.5 inches in length.
The American varieties weigh heavier than in other countries.
FACT: Rabbits can be classified into different categories of which one category is Body type.
There are 5 body types for rabbits:
- Commercial – Satin, Silver Marten, Californian, New Zealand, Cinnamon, Palomino, French Lop, Rex, French Angora, Giant Angora and Satin Angora
- Full Arch – Tan Rabbit, English Spot, Checkered Giant, Belgian Hare,
- Semi-Arch – American, Beveren, Flemish Giant, English Lop, Giant Chinchilla
- Compact – Mini Satin, Netherland Dwarf, Havana, Chinchilla, Lilac, Holland Lop, Mini Rex, American Fuzzy Lop, Mini Lop, English Angora, Jersey Wooly, Polish and Silver
- Cylindrical – Himalayans
What are the main characteristics of a Beveren Rabbit?
The Beveren Rabbit is a normal breed of rabbit. It is intelligent, friendly and active. It loves to play outdoors and therefore is not suited to an indoor lifestyle. The heating inside a home can be detrimental to the fur of a Beveren rabbit.
A Beveren is a large and hardy breed of rabbit with a good temperament. So, it would make a good petrabbit for any age or experience of owner that has outside space for a large hutch.
It’s a playful rabbit that makes a good companion and it is very happy in the company of other rabbits and humans.
They have a good temperament and are widely versatile in use – they are a good size as a meat rabbit, beautiful color as a fur rabbit, a fancier’s show rabbit or a friendly family pet rabbit.
The Beveren Rabbit is not known to be aggressive; aggression in domestic rabbits can be a sign of an underlying health problem or injury.
They are not considered to be a popular breed rabbit in the United States of America.
Intelligence and trainability:
This is an intelligent breed of rabbit, and is biddable and can be taught to respond to its name.
It’s calm, good-natured and friendly.
It needs socialization and handling experience early if it’s to become a family pet rabbit or a fancier’s show rabbit.
They are now mainly bred as meat and fur rabbits but are also good home-raising rabbits as they make good companions and are hardy and biddable.
They suit out outdoor conditions better, even cold climates.
They are docile, curious and like to play.
They’re most active and alert around daybreak and sunset and will enjoy a secure outdoor space that is protected from predators.
Outdoor fun will provide fresh air and some sunlight with makes for a healthy life.
Physical Characteristics of the Beveren Rabbit breed
Size: Large size
Weight in USA: around 8-11lb (3.6-5kg) for Male and around 9-12lb (4-5.4kg)+ for Female
Weight in UK: 8lb (3.6kg)+ for Male and around 9lb (4.5kg)+ for Female
Life expectancy: 5-8 years
Coat color: Blue, Black, White (ARBA recognized), and Brown and Lilac varieties
Coat type: Dense, glossy flyback fur, with guard hairs that are around 1-1.5 inches long
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears: Long and erect (can reach 5 inches)
Temperament: The Beveren Rabbit is a docile and friendly rabbit that is active and also likes to play and run around.
Types of training required:
- Crate – Beveren Rabbits need a large-sized outdoor hutch or cage to live in, as they like to be active and need enough space to run around and exercise. It is important to get this rabbit used to going into its hutch as it will become its nest box and it will sleep there and just hang out in there to relax.
You will have to lock the hutch in the early days so it knows it is supposed to live, sleep and go to the toilet in there.
This rabbit suits outdoor living best with free run-around time.
- Potty training – This rabbit is quite easy to potty train, if you start early and take the rabbit and its droppings back to the cage or hutch each time and put the droppings on the litter shavings, or in a litter box, so it will recognize the place to go by odor and habit.
FACT: A Rabbit may produce slightly softer-type stools overnight and it will then eat these nutrient-rich stools, from its litterbox in the morning to help digestion. This is not pleasant to watch but it is a perfectly normal part of digestion.
Any rabbit hutch or nest box should be cleaned out at least once a week, with its litter shavings and hay replaced regularly and fresh food and clean water provided daily.
- Walking on a leash – believe it or not, you can actually buy rabbit leashes and teach your rabbit to go for a walk with you. Not too far though with a docile rabbit.
Health problems and health issues
This large size breed of rabbit is generally healthy and has a life expectancy of 5-8 years; but still needs to be health checked to prevent:
Flystrike – Flystrike (also known as Myiasis) occurs when a fly lands on a rabbit’s skin and lays their eggs in the rabbit’s skin (usually around a dirty bottom, wet fur, or a wound).
These eggs hatch quickly and the maggots then chew their way into the rabbit’s skin. This can happen within hours and become fatal.
Overgrown Teeth– A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing so it is very important that it has enough hay to gnaw on. 70% of the rabbit’s food intake should come from hay. Chewing hay will help prevent teeth from over-growing.
Overgrown teeth can grow into their jawsand face, which is both painful and prevents them from eating properly. If a rabbit is allowed to let its teeth become overgrown the only solution is to have them filed down by a Vet.
Bladder Problems – Rabbits, unlike most other animals, absorb all the calcium from their diets and get rid of it through their bladders. This build-up of calcium is known as ‘bladder sludge’.
A rabbit’s diet must be balanced with hay, green veg and rabbit pellets and avoid too much calcium-rich food.
Caring for a Beveren Rabbit – what’s needed?
There are many factors to consider ensuring that your Beveren Rabbit has a healthy life and a good quality lifestyle.
Rabbits are herbivorous, so, their diet should consist of hay, green leafy vegetables, pellets, a little fruit, but no meat or dairy!
Feed as a large sized rabbit. 70% of a rabbit’s food intake should be from hay; the rest should be good quality formulated quality pellets. The amount you should feed your rabbit will depend on its weight and activity level.
Do not give your rabbit iceberg lettuce as it has too much Lanandum, which can be dangerous to eat, or sugary foods! All rabbits need access to lots of clean water.
A Beveren Rabbit has glossy, dense rollback fur that can be as long as 1.5 inches long. The fur is fairly low maintenance and only needs to be brushed twice a week, and wiped with a cloth in between.
A Rabbit licks its paws to clean its face and ears thoroughly. Rabbits are by nature very clean animals. Check around the rabbit’s bottom regularly to make sure it has does not have flystrike evidence. Tick and flea repellents are available for rabbits like the Beveren breed that mainly live outside to protect it against bites.
There are a variety of soft and wire hairbrushes which will help keep your bunny’s shed under control. (Best check out what’s recommended on Google or Amazon or Wikipedia for further facts.)
Remember, do not bathe a rabbit, it’s too stressful for them. They will self-clean their fur.
Cleaning teeth, nails, and ears
Rabbits’ears control their body temperature so they should be protected from dirt build-up, which can lead to ear infections or even a build-up of wax. Check their teeth to prevent over-growth, and provide rough food and safe toys to chew and play with.
Toenails grow quickly and need trimming regularly A Rabbit’s toenails should not be trimmed past where the white end of the nail meets the pink part!
What’s life like for a Beveren Rabbit?
Rabbits are now considered the third most popular domestic pet, after cats and dogs.
A Beveren Rabbit is sociable and likes to have company so will enjoy being stimulated with some out-of-hutch time.
Play and cuddle time
It loves to play and be in the company of other rabbits and humans. It will like to play with homemade toys like the empty toilet paper cardboard rolls stuffed with hay or paper, a hardwood block, or challenging rabbit-safe toys from a pet store
It’s not suited to being an indoor pet rabbit as its fur responds better to fresh air conditions.
It will need a large size hutch, to have enough space in its cage to stretch out completely, and exercise, and not catch its fur on any part of the hutch materials.
The recommended size of a rabbit cage for an adult Beveren Rabbit is a minimum size of:
- Area – 1 foot per 1 pound of the rabbit’s body weight.
- Width – The width of the cage should be 1.5 times the length of the rabbit
- Length – 3 times the length of an adult Beveren Rabbit.
The cage will require proper bedding along the floor of the cage as the rabbit will sleep on it, dig in it, and often eat it. Therefore the bedding must be of good quality and deep enough along the floor of the hutch to keep the rabbit safe and healthy.
The bedding needs to be soft, with no sharp pieces, edible and not harmful should the rabbit eat any of it. It should not be made of any material that comes apart easily and may choke the rabbit.
It is not recommended to use cat litter, pine products, or wood shavings for bedding for safety reasons. Hay makes an ideal bedding material as it is also a nutritious food substance for rabbits; especially meadow hay.
Positives and Negatives of owning a Beveren Rabbit
- A good looking big bunny rabbit
- A sociable pet rabbit and companion for children
- Glossy flyback coat that’s easy to maintain
- It’s active and like’s to have a companion
- Likes being handled and stroked, but with care
- Clean, and easy to potty train
- They have large litters and make good mothers to their kittens
- Not suited to indoor living
- Needs to be stimulated
- Needs playtime, and out-of-cage run time
- Not a popular breed may not be easy to find
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does a Beveren Rabbit cost?
A. Around $75, from a reputable Beveren Rabbit breeder.
Do your research before you buy and check the breeder or seller and its health history. The ARBA, or American Beveren Rabbit Club can help provide information about finding, adopting, or keeping a Beveren Rabbit.
Food and litter material will cost around $20-25 per month, plus Vets fees, vaccinations, and accessories all need to be factored into the cost of owning your rabbit. Then factor in accessories, toys, vet’s bills, and care products. (Check Wikipedia for training and stimulation tips).