I’ve been, for some time now, slowly working toward tricolor standard rex rabbits. The trick to this is for some time there were no breeders in Ohio. Now a days there’s a few, all about 4 hours away or more.
So I’ve had to improvise a bit. I’ve been breeding my rexes to various other lines to get the colors and sizes I need.
Mini, and his paler and less robust brother (not pictured), became a solid part of my foundation. He’s a mini rex of course, but a big one and that still got me closer to where I want to be.
Then I got a New Zealand Red I named “Cherry”. Cherry, as it turned out was carrying a recessive rex gene. I bred her to Minis brother and got a doe rabbit we’ve creatively dubbed Stripes. Mini and a new zealand white gave us a rabbit we’ve dubbed Tilty for his one lopsided ear. Both are harlequin colored but nothing like what we really wanted through appearance and are slated for immediate replacement ASAP. We don’t try to hard with the names of temporary rabbits. But when I bred Cherry to Porter, my lovely castor rex buck with just the thickest butt you’ve ever seen, I discovered something interesting.
Cherry was carrying a recessive Rex gene. Half her kits in her next litter came out rex furred. And they were out of Porter – a purebred Rex. Since rex is a simple recessive gene, she had to be carrying a copy. She was pedigreed, so it must have been at least 4 generations back that it was bred in, but there it was.
We kept a big, rex furred doe from the litter and for a long time now she’s been adamantly refusing to let herself be bred. She would stick her butt to the ground and growl at the bucks. She’s over a year old now and hasn’t had a litter despite several breeding attempts, mostly with the mini rex. Until today.
Today our lovely lady gave birth to ELEVEN kits!
And as I examined them and went to take pictures I noticed something.
Is that a smudge I spy on that little bunny’s thigh? (And shoulders?)
Why yes, it was! In fact three of the eleven babies were sporting handsome spots on their sides, showing me their harlequin colors. Compared to the other two, that first one looks quite plain and boring!
The exciting news about these bunnies is that both parents were completely rex furred. Which means these babies will be too. Which means, at long last, I have rex furred harlequins in my keep. I was fully expecting more castors and otters from this mix.
Because of the New Zealand Red from grandma and mini size on the buck, these rabbits are still a few generations away from being able to say “These are truly rex”. But it should be an easy transition from here. I just need to get some typey broken rex rabbits into my herd, breed up in size, and tricolor standard rex are on the way!
So interesting! And would you be able to show them at that point? Rabbit breeding is Unfamiliar to me, so not sure how that works
Yes. Harlequin rex are not showable but tricolor rex are showable. Unlike dogs or other animals with “herd books” where only registered animals can produce registered babies, rabbits are shown on individual merit alone. Rabbits can have mixed pedigrees between breeds as long as it meets the breed requirements and if all rabbits on the pedigree meet the breed requirements it is generally considered to be a purebred animal. So you can bring a mixed breed rabbit to a show and as long as it meets the breed standard closely it can still win shows, and if you have a “mixed” breed rabbit with three consecutive breed-conforming generations on the pedigree it can be registered with the ARBA as a purebred rabbit.
The trick is that some breeds carry recessive traits that can crop up and make a rabbits offspring unshowable or inconsistant like the New Zealand Red with the rex furred babies. She had a hidden rex gene. Another New Zealand with the same hidden gene bred to her would have had some rex furred babies that could not be shown as New Zealands and would be disqualified and useless. So it’s always best to know or disclose if cross breeding has occurred when you can.
That is FASCINATING! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain it! Filling your blog, looking forward to future posts!