What’s shiny, with pelt as soft as satin, and has a mini me just like it? The Satin Rabbit (and Mini Satin)
This Satin breed is sometimes referred to as:
- The Satin Rabbit from the Sheen Team,
- One of the Satin Sheen Team,
- The Rabbit Sheen Team,
- The Satin Havana,
- or simply The Satin
The ‘Satin’ breed of rabbit is considered to be one of the most beautiful domestic breeds; with a unique fur structure, from a recessive gene that gives a translucent sheen to its fur.
This adorable breed originated from a color mutation in a litter of Havana rabbits, in 1934. A Satin Rabbit is a medium-large sized rabbit with a commercial body type and a short flyback coat like fine satin.
Initially they appeared in 2 colors – white, and a chinchilla (grayish) color but they now exist in over 11 different colors. Baby Satin Rabbits, and mini Satins, are simply sweet and look like they’ve been sitting in the snow.
A Satin Rabbit is a gentle and calm pet rabbit, for any age of owner or level of rabbit experience.
A brief history of the Satin Rabbit: a domestic rabbit breed
Walter Huey is credited with the development of the Satin breed. It is believed that all domestic rabbit breeds came from one single species; the European Wild Rabbit.
Domestic rabbits only appeared in the United States in the early 1900s but had existed for much longer in Europe. The history of the Satin breed begins with the Havana Rabbit, in the United States.
- In 1934, a well-known rabbit breeder and rabbitry owner Mr. Walter Huey from Pendleton, Indiana discovered some unusual looking kits in a litter of Havana Rabbits.
These unique kits occurred as a mutation within this Havana breed of rabbits and appeared with a satin fur; and looked just adorable,
Mr. Walter Huey was an experienced rabbit breeder and fancier who regularly entered Havana Rabbits from his rabbitry into rabbit shows. He immediately liked this ‘satinized’ mutation of the fur in this Havana Rabbit’s coat and entered a Havava rabbit with Satin fur into the next rabbit show.
These Satin Havanas were impressive with the beautiful satin sheen to their fur, but there was an outcryfrom his fellow rabbit breeders as this new breed did not match the standard for the Havana breed of rabbits; and should not have been competing in the Havana category.
So, the Satin sheen Havanas became a separate breed of rabbit and were initially awarded the name the ‘Satin Havana’ Rabbit and accepted by the National Havana Club.
The new breed developed by Mr Huey, with the satin gene, could therefore compete against standard Havana rabbits.
The color and satin fur type mutation process in rabbits
Color mutation is sometimes a naturally occurring process when rabbit breeds mix and form ‘Sports’ offspring, but it can also be adopted to enhance or introduce color into an already-established breed of rabbit.
Color mutation has been used to create colors such as lilac, sepia brown, or silver in breeds like the Chocolate Havana, the Lilac Rabbit or Silver Rabbits.
The Satin breed was used to develop new color varieties in other rabbit breeds.
FACT: Satinized fur occurs as a result of a simple recessive gene mutation, which narrows the diameter of the hair shaft and intensifies the pigmentation resulting in translucent fur with an extraordinary satin sheen over the rabbit’s coat.
What happened next?
- In 1942, the American Federation of Havana Breeders voted to sponsor the Satin Rabbit breed in a further variety of colors; Satin Havana rabbits became available in Black, Brown, Blue, White and Orange
This beautiful translucent shine and texture of the fur continued across all colors developed in this new breed; because of a mutation in the genetics of the fur, the satin gene could be passed on.
Other breeders saw the attraction of this ‘satinized’ fur and it was only a matter of time before the recessive gene, that gave the fur a glossy sheen, was inserted into the genetics of other breeds of rabbits, and developed new breeds; like the Rex Rabbit breed.
- In 1946, The American Satin Rabbit Breeders Association was established in order to support the creation of the new breed – the Satin Rabbit.
They initially recognized just 2 varieties – the White and Chinchilla varieties.
- 1946 to 1985 – the breeding program experienced ups and downs
- By 1956 -8 additional varieties had been added.
- 1965 – Siamese Satins were accepted and one set of points was developed for all color varieties, in competitions.
- 1970 – Mrs Ariel Hayes from Troy, in Michigan, United States, attempted to develop a miniature version of the Satin rabbit, but her attempts to create the mini Satin failed.
- 1980s and 1990s many others tried, but only Mr. J Leo Collins succeeded and was awarded the certificate of development for the Mini Satin Rabbit.
He created 2 varieties of the mini Satin rabbit – the Ruby-eyed White Albino and the Red variety.
Only the Ruby-eyed White mini Satin Rabbit achieved recognition and a standard by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 2006. The ARBA Standard was for type; it was developed from a New Zealand White Rabbit.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) publishes its breed standards in a guide called the Standard of Perfection
- 1985 – Broken Satin variety arrived
- 2001 – Otter Satin was developed – 4 varieties (colors) Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac
The Satin Rabbit breed is now recognized globally.
Color and patterns on the fur of a Satin Rabbit
The color varieties in different countries:
Common Colors in most countries: Black, Blue, White, Chocolate, Chinchilla, Siamese, and Otter.
Colors also recognized in USA: Copper, Red, Broken and Californian
Colors also recognized in UK: Ivory, Brown, Lilac*, Castor, Cinnamon, Lynx, Opal, Havana, Squirrel, Orange, Fawn, Bronze, Beige, Sable, Seal, Smoke Pearl, Fox, Argente, Sooty-Fawn and Himalayan.
*The ‘self’ color on the Lilac variety is a kind of dove-gray with a pinkish tint.
Patterns can differ by color variety as set by the ARBA standard of perfection:
Blacks and Chocolate Satin rabbits
They have a Creamy White color on their belly, underside of chin and tail.
- Their belly area color – should be separated from the color of the rest of body by a distinct border of Orange.
- Their nostrils and triangleon face – should be Orange or Tan, and the eye circles and area inside the ears a Creamy White color highlighted in Orange.
- Chest area – an even mixture of main body color, with Orange merging into the body color.
- Eyes – Brown
Blue and Lilac Satin rabbits
They have a Creamy White color on their belly, underside of chin and tail.
- Their belly area color – should be separated from the color of the rest of body by a distinct border of Fawn.
- Their nostrils and triangleon face – should be fawn, and the eye circles and area inside the ears a Creamy White color highlighted in Fawn.
- Chest area – an even mixture of main body color, with Fawn merging into the body color.
- Eyes– Blue-gray
The Satin Rabbit appearance
The Satin Rabbit is a medium-large size breed of rabbit with a commercial body type, that’s muscular and as wide as it is deep and well filled out. The American varieties weigh heavier than in other countries.
It has a medium build and is fairly broad with an arched body, strong legs, wide head and upright ears. It has flyback soft translucent fur.
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
Cylindrical – Himalayans
What are the main characteristics of a Satin Rabbit?
The Satin Rabbit is a normal breed of rabbit, but compatible for introducing color into a number of other breeds and into the bloodlines of certain dwarf rabbit breeds.
It’s docile and calm and is very friendly so it would make a good petrabbit for any age or experience of owner in any size of home. It is a playful rabbit that will be a good companion.
They are docile and not known to be aggressive; aggression in domestic rabbits can be a sign of an underlying health problem or injury.
They are considered to be the most popular commercial breed rabbit among Rabbit Fanciers in America.
Intelligence and trainability:
It’s intelligent, but you will need patience to train it
It’s calm, good-natured and friendly. The satin rabbit 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 show rabbits but are also good meat rabbits and home-raising rabbitsbecause they make good companions. They suit indoor conditions better, and are intelligent and gentle around children.
They are gentle and like to play. They’re most active and alert around daybreak and sunset and if allowed to run loose in the house they will eventually follow you around and investigate new things.
Remember to keep all dangerous cables and wires out of rabbit reach, as rabbits naturally like to chew things and make burrows! They should also be able to run around outside safely in a secure area away from other animal or possible predators. Outdoor fun will provide fresh air and some sunlight with makes for a healthy life.
Physical Characteristics of the Satin Rabbit breed
Size: Medium/Large size
Ideal Weight in USA: around 8-11lb (3.6-5kg) for Male and around 11lb (5kg)+ for Female
Ideal Weight in UK: around 6-8lb (2.7-3.6kg) for Male and around 8lb (4kg) for Female
Life expectancy: 5-8years
Coat color: 11 varieties of colors+
Coat type: Short, glossy flyback fur, where the guard hairs are transparent and give the coat a striking satin sheen.
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as ahypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears USA: Short and erect
Ears UK: Medium and erect
The Satin Rabbit is a charming and friendly rabbit that likes to play and keep active
Types of training required:
1) Crate – Satin Rabbits need a large-sized hutch or cage to live in as they can be active and need space. 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 indoor living with free run-around time.
2) 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 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.
3) 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 medium-large sized 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. Overgrown teeth must be 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 to avoid too much calcium-rich food.
Check out our guide on what other foods rabbits can eat.
Caring for a Satin Rabbit – what’s needed?
There are many factors to consider ensuring your Satin 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 medium-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 Satin Rabbit has short and soft, flyback fur, that’s 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 that mainly live outside to protect it against bites.
There are a variety of soft and wire hair-brushes 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 could 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 Satin Rabbit?
Rabbits are now considered the third most popular domestic pet, after cats and dogs.
A Satin Rabbit is sociable and likes to have company so will enjoy being stimulated with some out-of-hutch time.
Play and cuddle time
It’s fun-loving and 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 suited to being an indoor pet rabbit as it likes to be handled and stroked.
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 Satin 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 the fully grown Satin 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 Satin Rabbit
- A striking looking rabbit
- A popular fancy rabbit
- Glossy flyback coat that’s easy to maintain
- Makes an excellent pet rabbit
- Likes being handled and stroked, but with care
- Clean, and easy to potty train
- Not suited to outdoor living
- Not bred for meat anymore or pelt
- Needs playtime, and out-of-cage run time
- Needs to be handled carefully
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does a Satin Rabbit cost?
A. Around $30-$50, from a reputable Satin Rabbit breeder. Mini Satin Rabbits cost less, around $20 – $25
Do your research before you buy and check the breeder or seller, its health history, and any characteristics that might give cause for concern. ARBA or the British Rabbit Council (BRC) can help provide information about finding, adopting, or keeping Satin 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, vets bills, and care products. (Check Wikipedia for training and stimulation tips).