The Californian Rabbit breed, also known as the California white, is becoming more and more popular among rabbit owners. Excellent as a family pet and as a show rabbit, these bunnies are known for their dark or black markings that make them stand out from other white breeds, as well as their wonderful temperament. They’re also easy to look after and can live happily indoors and outdoors, no matter the weather.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Californian breed and seeing whether they might be the right pet for you, keep reading on below.
History Of The Californian Rabbit
Californian rabbits stand out in the white rabbit category because of their coloring — they have dark markings on their ears, nose and feet. Californians get their coloring from a Ch gene, also known as the Himalayan gene. The colder the climate they reside in, the darker the points of the ears, nose, and feet.
This coloring is the only standard accepted by the breed standard in the United States, although other coloring is accepted in the UK. The Californian was first recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1939.
This breed was developed in California in 1923 by breeder George West. He wanted to create a breed with a dense coat but a breed that also had the “perfect” meat. He bred for five years and finally created a small, chinchilla-colored male by crossing standard Chinchilla rabbits with a Himalayan white rabbit.
He then crossed this male with some New Zealand white rabbit’s to increase it’s size, and the Californian was born. He trusted two of these rabbits with some Southern Californian breeders, who helped to perfect the breed.
Characteristics Of The Californian Rabbit
The Californian rabbit is a well-known breed that is constantly gaining popularity, particularly as a pet. These bunnies are usually born in litter sizes of between 6 to 8 kits and will cost you around $40, although may be more if you are looking to buy a show-quality bun.
These rabbits are large and normally weigh between 8 and 11 lbs. Does normally weigh more than bucks. With a commercial body type, they have a muscular body with full shoulders and hindquarters. Their ears are erect, medium in length and quite broad.
The Californian’s coat is medium in length and is dense. It is not as velvety as some breeds and often feels quite coarse, so petting them will feel better to them than to you! They do not shed very much and do not have very high grooming needs, although we will go into more detail about that later on.
Their coloring is what makes the Californian Rabbit stand out. While they are a white breed, they must have dark markings on their ears, nose, feet and tail. These markings should be almost black or as dark brown as possible. Their eyes should also be pink, like that of an albino rabbit.
While the Californian Rabbit is often used as a meat-rabbit, one of the main reasons they are gaining popularity as a pet is their temperament. These bunnies are docile and friendly and, although they can be shy and quiet at first, with correct socialization these rabbits will thrive in any family home. In fact, these bunnies are extremely sociable once they get to know you and don’t like being left alone in their hutch!
When left alone and confined to their hutch, the Californian can become bored, destructive and even sometimes aggressive. As long as they get to spend time with their owners, they will be happy. They are also an active breed and will like to play with toys, particularly if you are around to play with them! At the right times, they’ll also be happy to cuddle up with you.
You should always respect your Californian’s personal space, especially when they are new to your home. If they are afraid or frightened, then they might try to bite.
The average life span of the Californian is between 5 and 10 years.
Known Health Issues
The Californian rabbit does not have any breed-specific health issues, but they can be prone to health problems that all rabbits can be susceptible to. We have laid out these main concerns below.
– Malocclusion — this is when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned so that the normal process of chewing doesn’t wear down your rabbit’s teeth. Regular dental checkups are very important. You should also make sure your rabbit eats plenty of hay.
– GI Stasis — this is a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Symptoms include loss of appetite, small or no fecal pellets and lethargy. It can be treated if caught quickly.
– Ear Mites — this is a common parasite of pet rabbits. You may see your rabbit shaking their head a lot if they are affected. Your vet will be able to treat them.
– Flystrike — this is when flies lay their eggs on soiled patches of fur and, when their eggs hatch, they begin to eat the rabbit from the inside out. Symptoms include seizures, loss of motion (listlessness) and skin irritations. Always ensure your rabbit’s rear end is clean, especially as they get older.
Like all rabbits, they can also suffer from back issues if they are mishandled or accidentally dropped.
Regular vet checkups will ensure that you catch any health problems before they become too serious. You should also make sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Californian rabbit breed, it is time to take a look at what living with one of these rabbits on a day to day basis is like. Fortunately, they are easy to take care of and are a great pet for first time bunny owners! We will cover their food and diet, their exercise needs and their living space requirements below.
Food And Diet
The exact amount you feed your Californian rabbit should be based on their size, age and activity level. They should be eating a portion of hay that is at least as big as their body size every day, alongside pellets and fresh vegetables. Fresh water should also always be available to them.
Hay is very important as it helps to keep your Californian’s digestive system moving, as well as helping to wear down their teeth so they are less prone to dental issues. At least 70% of your rabbit’s diet should be hay.
High-quality supplementary pellets help to provide extra vitamins and minerals that keep your rabbit healthy. Take a look at a supplementary pellet food we recommend below.
Best Food For The Californian RabbitBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Sherwood Pet Health rabbit food for the Californian rabbit. This food helps to improve your rabbit’s digestive health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora. With no grain or soy, this food is ideal to promote urinary health too and the ingredients are all natural, ensuring your Californian isn’t eating anything they shouldn’t be.
A pellet food, there is no chance of selective feeding, and the vitamins, minerals and amino acids all add to a balanced and complete diet. There are also essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat.
In the wild, rabbits run around three miles a day. Therefore, it is very important that you give your pet rabbit enough exercise every day to keep them active and entertained. They should have at least three hours of free-range time, whether this is out of their hutch in the garden or just around the house.
The Californian Rabbit needs lots of time to be active because otherwise they can become very bored and destructive when kept enclosed. They love to be with their family members and so spending time outside with them while they are exercising is a great way for them to bond and to keep them socialized. Toys are also a good way to keep your Californian Rabbit entertained!
If you want to leave them alone outside unsupervised, they will need a large secure enclosure. This can be stand-alone or it can be attached to their hutch. This will keep them safe from predators and means you won’t need to be on the lookout all the time.
Family Compatibility and Trainability
These rabbits make excellent pets for many different people. They can excel in homes with individuals, couples, the elderly and with families with children. As a sociable rabbit, they need lots of time with you and will not tolerate being kept in their hutch for long hours! Make sure you have time to spend with these rabbits before you bring them into your home, otherwise they can become destructive and bored.
Like all rabbits, the Californian can be trained. Although it is not as easy to train a rabbit as it is to train a dog or a cat, you can train these bunnies to use a litter box so there is less mess for you to clean up. You can also try training them to come when their name is called!
Thanks to their dense coat, the Californian Rabbit can live outside happily in any weather — including snow! They need to be protected from the elements of course, and also need to be brought inside often for playtime with their family members. However, if you don’t have a yard or space to keep them outside, they can also live happily indoors. Just make sure they have adequate time outside of their cage for exercise, socializing and exploring.
Whether they are inside or outside, their hutch should be large enough that they can easily hop around inside. Try to stay away from hutches with wire floors as these can cause sore hocks within rabbits. Take a look at the hutch we recommend below.
Best Hutch For The Californian RabbitBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Petsfit outdoor rabbit hutch for the Californian rabbit. Made from sturdy wood and wire, this hutch is durable and will last outside for many years. There are two levels to this hutch which can be accessed through a ramp. The upper, enclosed level will keep your rabbit dry if it rains while also giving them somewhere to sleep. The downstairs area gives them a good amount of space to move and there is a door so they can also have access to the garden.
Both the upper and lower areas have a pull out tray for easy cleaning. The three doors on this hutch are lockable to keep your Californian Rabbit safe from predators, too. This hutch is easy to assemble with pre-drilled holes and, although it is designed to be used outside, it can also be used inside.
Fortunately, this breed doesn’t require a lot of grooming. During non-shedding season, brushing once a week or once every two weeks should suffice. Twice a year, when they are shedding, you will need to be brushing them more often — two to three times a week.
You should very rarely bathe your rabbit. It is not really necessary, unless they are really dirty. Bathing can be a traumatic experience for them, too. You should also trim their nails as and when is needed.
Californian Rabbit FAQ’s
Should my Californian Rabbit live indoors or outdoors?
Because they have such a dense coat, the Californian Rabbit can live happily outdoors and will be able to withstand any weather. That being said, they also won’t mind living indoors, so it is up to you! As a sociable bunny, they like to be around people and so will be happy as long as they get to spend enough time with you. Wherever you choose to house them, make sure their hutch is big enough.
How big should my rabbit’s cage be?
The rule with rabbits is: the bigger the better! If you have the space for a big hutch then your rabbit will always appreciate the extra room to roam and exercise. No one wants to be stuck in a cramped space!
If you do not have a lot of space, then the cage should be at least 4 times the size of the rabbit. A guide is 24″ by 36″ for smaller rabbits (less than 8 lbs) or 30″ by 36″ for larger rabbits. Hutches with multiple stories are also popular as they give your bun more space.
The Californian Rabbit is a large breed of rabbit and, although it is often used as a meat rabbit, is gaining popularity as a show bunny and as a pet. Not only do these rabbits have a wonderful coat that makes them stand out in the white rabbit category, but they also have excellent temperaments that means they adjust well to any home. With low care needs the Californian Rabbit can make a great first-time rabbit too, and as long as you socialize this bun and give them enough of your time, they’ll be your best friend.