What is silver like a fox and loves to be cuddled and stroked? A Silver Fox Rabbit!
It is sometimes referred to as the:
- The Silver Fox Rabbit,
- The American Heavyweight Silver Rabbit,
- The Black Silver Fox Rabbit,
- The American Silver Fox Rabbit,
- The Blue Silver Fox Rabbit,
- The American Blue Silver Fox Rabbit
- The American Black Silver Fox Rabbit
The Silver Fox Rabbit is a beautiful and friendly, large breed of rabbit.
It is a truly American breed of rabbit that was developed in North Canton, Ohio, in the United States in the 1920s.
Unfortunately, the Silver Fox Rabbit is a rare breed that is now facing extinction and categorized as ‘critical’ by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC).
This big rabbit has amazing long fur that stands up on end when you stroke it backward; from tail to head.
Silver Fox Rabbits are very cute as bunnies and develop their silvering color by the time they are around 4 months of age.
Let’s take a look at this beautiful rabbit and where it came from
A brief history of the Silver Fox Rabbit, a breed of domestic rabbit
Domestic rabbits became popular in the United States at the beginning of the 18th Century.
FACT: During World War I, food shortages led to an increase in demand for meat from domestic rabbits. The meat from rabbits was cheaper and it also has a higher protein value than most other meats.
The Silver Fox Rabbit is considered to be the third breed to have true American roots, after the New Zealand Red Rabbit and the American Blue Rabbit; it is argued which of these two claims the fame of being the first all-American bred rabbit.
In the 1920s, an American breeder, Walter B. Garland of North Canton, in Ohio, United States developed this breed of rabbit.
He set out to develop a rabbit that was a practical size for a meat rabbit but with an attractive coat with a silver fox color. He wanted a bulky shape with the fur texture of an English Silver rabbit but with white flecks on the fur. It was difficult initially as many of the mating attempts failed, but he continued. How he did it and what breeds he mixed in his selective breeding program is still a bit of a mystery.
Walter B. Garland, of North Canton, was known to keep Chequered Giants, English Silver, and the Champagne d’Argent breed of rabbits within his rabbitry at this time so they may all have been incorporated into his selective breeding program to create the American Silver Fox Rabbit breed.
However, it is believed that success came when he mixed an unusual black ‘Chequered Giant’ doe (which has lots of white hairs all over its body), with an ‘English Silver’ Buck and produced an exceptional litter.
He then bred a buck from this first new litter back with the mother doe (the Black Chequered rabbit), and the largest does from the first litter were bred back with the father buck (the English Silver rabbit).
So how did this Silver Fox breed of rabbit develop?
Over the next 14 years, Garland built his rabbitry up to 40 hutches, to house the large litters produced by these excellent mother doe rabbits, and continued his selective breeding program to perfect the breed.
He had two aims:
- To breed it to be true to type, like its Chequered Giant and English Silver rabbit heritage breeds
- To breed it to have a silver fox coloring, with a distinct silvering color over its fur
The Silver Fox rabbit was bred as a multi-purpose domestic rabbit breed; for its pelt (fur), as a meat rabbit and suitability as a show rabbit.
It was developed as a large-breed and named for its dense fur with white ticking which resembled the pelt of a fox.
It was originally known as the American Heavyweight Silver rabbit.
What happened next?
- 1925 – This breed was accepted by the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association (ARBA), at the 1925 Colorado Springs Convention. The Silver Fox rabbit breed was only the third breed of rabbit to be accepted by this Association.
- 1929 – The breed name was changed from the American Heavyweight Silver to the Silver Fox rabbit, and two varieties were recognized – the ‘Black Silver Fox’ and the ‘Blue Silver Fox’ rabbit varieties.
- 1970 – Of the two varieties of Silver Fox rabbits – the Black and Blue varieties – the Blue variety (the Blue Silver Fox Rabbit) was dropped by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) as numbers had dropped away at shows.
- 1971 – In the 1970s the Silver Fox Rabbit breed almost became extinct! So, 18 Breeders got together and founded the National Silver Fox Rabbit Club (NSFRC). The aim of this club was to promote and conserve this rare breed of domestic rabbit – the Silver Fox rabbit.
Over the next 40 years, it made a slight comeback.
Today, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has re-classified this rare breed Silver Fox rabbit from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘threatened’.
So that’s good news for Silver Fox Rabbit supporters!
Where did they go to next?
The Silver Fox rabbit is only found in the United States of America and in Canada.
The Silver Fox rabbit appearance: What does it look like?
A Silver Fox rabbit is a beautiful breed of rabbit with a striking appearance.
The Silver Fox rabbit is a large rabbit that has dense long fur with white ticking that resembles the silvery fur coat of a fox.
The fur on a Silver Fox rabbit is longer than on most other rabbits, and does not fly back when stroked from tail to head, and stands up on end until smoothed back into place.
The standard requires the hairs on the Silver Fox rabbit to be at least one and a half inches in length. The Silver Fox rabbit breed colors are mainly Blue and Black, but also Chocolate, Lilac, and an uncommon white shade.
Today, only the Black Silver Fox rabbit is permitted to enter Rabbit shows. It is no longer permitted for the Blue Silver Fox rabbit variety to be entered.
The kittens born to Silver Fox Does are born in either a solid black color or a solid blue color. The silvering color starts to be seen on the fur of a kitten when it is around 6 weeks of age and will continue until its full silvering color is complete around 4 months of age.
A Silver Fox Doe makes a caring and excellent mother or even foster mother.
When it comes to raising rabbits, the mother Does are attentive and expert breeders, as they produce plenty of milk and have large litters. A Silver Fox Doe generally weighs around two pounds in weight more than the buck.
The Silver Fox rabbit is a popular meat rabbit as they have a good ratio of muscle to bone.
The body of a Silver Fox rabbit is medium-length with well fleshed out hindquarters and shoulders.
It has a small head and big upright ears.
What are the main characteristics?
A Silver Fox Rabbit is docile and friendly. It will enjoy being handled and stroked with care.
It’s a rabbit with the coloring of an Artic Silver Fox and is very beautiful.
The Silver Fox rabbit is a rare breed and is now considered a threatened breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
It is estimated that there are only around two thousand in existence today, with only 200 being registered each year.
They became popular very quickly in America around the time of World War I as they were a cheaper alternative to many other varieties of meat when food was scarce and expensive.
Today, the Silver Fox rabbit is mainly used as a show rabbit or family pet.
Power, intelligence and trainability:
This rabbit can be trained to respond to its name and come for food. Rabbits are prey animals and will act on instinct when faced with danger. They are not the most intelligent animal, but they have strong instincts and good eyesight and hearing.
It is important to socialize this rabbit as a young kitten and get it used to being handled early if it is to be kept as a family pet or even used as a show rabbit. Early touch and stroking will make the rabbit less nervous and more biddable. This rabbit will be friendly and calm with those it knows and may even respond to its name and come when called for food.
Today they are mainly bred as show rabbits or home rabbits and are suitable for living indoors or outdoors in proper secure hutches. A Silver Fox doe makes a wonderful mother to their kits.
This is a docile rabbit breed that will be friendly and low maintenance.
Remember rabbits are natural prey animals and as such will have acute senses. This means they can be easily startled by sudden noises or unexpected movements and this may cause them to become afraid and they may run away.
Physical Characteristics of the Silver fox Rabbit
Size: Large size
Weight: 9-11lb (4-5kg) for Male and 10-12lb (4.5-5.5kg) for Female
Life expectancy: 7-10 years
Litter size: around 6 Kittens (Kits)/litter
Coat Color: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac and an uncommon variety of white; all with silver ticking
Coat type: A course coat, adapted to have the appearance and color of a Silver fox. They are believed to be the only breed of domestic rabbit with a no-fly back fur that stands up on end when stroked against the natural position of the fur and does not return until stroked in the opposite direction again.
It is not hypoallergenic; there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic rabbit.
Ears: long erect ears
Eye Color: medium-sized brown eyes
A Silver Fox rabbit is calm and affectionate when socialized and trained early. It is not known to be aggressive but could get startled by sudden movements or loud noises. It will need space to run around and burn off its energy otherwise it will become frustrated.
They suit outdoor or indoor living conditions and are comfortable with any age or experience of the owner.
Types of training required:
1) Crate – Buy a rabbit hutch or cage and get your rabbit used to going into it. This will become its nest 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 and sleep there and it will be a useful experience should you ever need to transport your pet.
This rabbit is suited to outdoor or indoor living, with a suitable hutch for each. If mainly living outdoors but care must be taken to raise the hutch off the ground and make sure it is secure to protect it from possible predators.
2) Potty training – This rabbit is moderately easy to potty train. You will need to 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 each time 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 them in the morning to help with its digestion. This is not pleasant to watch but it is perfectly normal.
Any hutch or cage should be cleaned out at least once a week, with litter shavings and hay replaced regularly and fresh food and fresh 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 and be careful of its paws when very young, or on any hot ground.
Health problems and health issues
The Silver Fox breed of rabbit is generally quite healthy, with a life expectancy of 7-10 years, but check your rabbit regularly 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.
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 and chewing hay will help keep the teeth from over-growing.
A rabbit’s teeth must not be allowed to grow too long as they can grow into their jaws and face. This can be both painful and prevent them from eating properly. Overgrown teeth must be filed down by a Vet.
A Silver Fox rabbit does not cope well in very hot weather, so always make sure there is enough fresh water and shade available in the rabbit hutch.
Caring for a Silver Fox rabbit – what’s needed?
Feed as a large-sized rabbit, 70% of a rabbit’s food intake should be from hay, the rest should be formulated rabbit food.
The amount you should feed your rabbit will depend on its weight and energy level; add some leafy green vegetables into the diet too.
Do not give your rabbit iceberg lettuce as it has too much Lanandum which can be dangerous to eat or sugary foods!
The Silver Fox rabbit has special no flyback fur, which is fairly long and coarse but does not need much maintenance. It will shed more during spring and fall seasons and will, therefore, need to be brushed more regularly until the shedding slows again.
It will lick its own paws and clean its face and ears thoroughly and then display some interesting stretches to clean the rest of its body. Rabbits are by nature very clean animals.
FACT: When a rabbit rubs its face and whiskers for you to see it means it feels at home where it is.
Check around the rabbit’s bottom regularly to make sure it has does not have flystrike evidence.
Tick and flea repellents are available if the rabbit mainly loves outside to protect it against bites.
There are a variety of soft and wire hair-brushes which will help keep your bunny’s shedding under control. (Best check out what’s recommended on Google or Amazon or Wikipedia for further facts.)
Remember, you do not need to bathe a rabbit. They will self-clean their fur.
Cleaning teeth, nails, and ears
Check their teeth to prevent over-growth, by making sure they have enough rough food and toys to chew on.
Nails grow quickly and need to be trimmed regularly. If this breed of rabbit is allowed to run around, especially in a large enclosed area outside, they will wear their nails down slightly. If not they need to be checked, say once a month for length and infection.
A Rabbit’s nails should not be trimmed past where the white end of the nail meets the pink part!
Despite the rabbit regularly cleaning its own ears, their ears still need to be checked for dirt build-up, mites or infection regularly, especially if they are kept outdoors.
What’s life like for a Silver Fox rabbit?
A Silver Fox rabbit is a big cute rabbit with adorable silvery fur.
It will need to be stimulated; otherwise, it may run about the cage if it lacks something interesting to do. Therefore, the cage should be provided with suitable safe objects for it to play with; objects where small parts cannot be easily bitten off or it may choke.
Golf balls or hardwood are ideal, and PVC tubing would make an ideal burrow tunnel for it to practice its burrowing instincts and to play in.
Be careful if the rabbit is housed outside, that the hutch or cage is lifted off the ground and sealed with fine mesh or wire to protect it from predators.
Whether you keep your Silver Fox rabbit as an indoor pet or outdoor pet you must ensure it has enough space in its cage to stretch out completely to rest or sleep and enough room to keep its food away from where it sleeps or its litter tray.
The recommended minimum caged space for a Silver Fox rabbit should be at least a 24-by-60-inch floor and a height of 24 inches, more if it is a pregnant Doe. This is a large-sized rabbit that can be active and will need space to run around and roam.
A Silver Fox rabbit is super sweet and friendly. It’s instinctive and content to be handled by people it knows but no sudden movements as it gets nervous easily.
Positives and Negatives of ownership
- Beautiful unusual silvering coloring that looks more like a fox than a rabbit
- Attractive big bunnies, good for commercial breeding
- A multi-purpose breed – good for fur, meat, shows and as pets
- A very good breeder and excellent mother to their kits
- Very clean and easy to potty train
- Suits indoor or outdoor living, easy to house train
- Threatened with extinction, a rare breed
- Does not tolerate very hot temperatures well
- Will need sufficient stimulation or will bite at cage contents
- Needs lots of exercises and a large enclosure to run around in
Commonly Asked Questions:
Q. How much does a Silver fox rabbit cost?
A. Around $50, from a reputable Silver Fox breeder
Do your research before you buy and check the breeder or seller, its health history, and any characteristics that might give cause for concern.
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.