History of the Breed
The Rex Rabbit breed has been around for almost 200 years. It first discovered in 1919 in France after a peasant discovered an odd looking little bunny in a patch of rabbits. The peasant’s son was a servant of a well respected and successful rabbit breeder named Monsieur Gillet. The boy showed Gillet the unique bunny and he requested that another be sought from the same location. Only one other was ever found and it is reported that no other similar rabbit was ever produced at this original location. The two bunnies would become the foundation of the Rex breed.
Monsieur Gillet originally named the breed “Castor” which means beaver in french. He was informed that a breed in England that was similar to the Havana rabbit was being named “Beaver”. After hearing this he then decided to call his new breed the “Castorrex” – Castor for beaver in French and Rex which is the Latin word for King in English.
In 1923 Gillet showed the unique Castorrex pelt to the Societe Centrale d’ Aviculture in Paris, France. They immediately accused Gillet of displaying a “dressed” pelt. He then brought a live Castorrex for them to examine and there was no doubt this was something the rabbit world had never seen before.
The unique fur of the Castorrex was discovered to be caused by a a mutated gene where the fur grew outward instead of lying flat. The guard hairs, also known as barbs are shortened to the length of the undercoat. Rex Rabbit’s fur being all the same length gives them a soft, velvety and plush texture. The gene is recessive meaning that it exists in offspring only when both parents pass it along.
The Rex was first introduced to the public at a Paris International Rabbit Show in 1924 and soon thereafter breeding of it took off. It was imported into the USA after the Paris Rabbit show by American rabbit pioneer John C. Fehr and his rabbit partner Alfred Zimmerman.
Early on the highly sought after Rex Rabbit fur caused commercial over breeding which resulted in negative factors of the mutated gene to be exposed. The fur was becoming thin and sparse resulting in a low quality pelt. Luckily for the Rex a group of experienced breeders introduced modifying genes from other rabbit breeds and corrected the low quality thinning fur issue. The result was a Rex Rabbit with a superior quality fur.
The first Rex Clubs in the USA were know as Colorrex and Castor Rex Rabbit Breeders of America. The Rex Rabbit has gone on to become one of the most popular breeds in the USA and around the world. In the early years, the breed was mainly developed for fur and meat production but has now also become a favorite as a show rabbit and pet.
Physical Characteristics of the Rex Rabbit
The Rex is considered a medium to large size rabbit. Average weight is between 8 to 10 pounds in the USA and around 6 to 8 pounds for those breed in the UK. Their ears are upright and have a broad head, they have strong legs attached to a rounded body. The Rex has a smooth dense coat and is known for its short, plush hair which is approx. ½ in length. Their whiskers are curly.
Today the ARBA acknowledges 17 Rex Rabbit varieties and in France 20 colors are recognized.
Other colors that are recognized in the USA are Californian, Black Otter, Broken, Lilac, Red and Amber.
Fawn, Satin, Cinnamon, Dalmatian, Smoke Pearl, Harlequin, Tortoiseshell, Orange and Himalayan are also recognized in the UK.
Personality and Temperament
The Rex Rabbit is a very intelligent breed and can be easily littler trained. Make sure you do not use cedar or clay based litter as it is extreme health hazard. The Rex can be trained to do a wide variety of tricks including starting and stopping on command as well as coming when it hears his or her name. Of course a motivational treat helps during the training sessions. Rex Rabbits have a calm and gentle temperament but can be quite playful and boisterous especially in the early morning hours and evenings. As long as children are properly educated on handling a Rex they make a great family pet with kids.
Feeding and Housing
The Rex can be housed outdoors all year long in warmer climates. In colder climates and under proper hutch conditions they can live quite comfortably as well in the outdoors. A covered hutch or barn is required to protect your Rex from rainy and windy conditions in colder outdoor environments. Extremes of either hot or cold weather is something the Rex does not tolerate very well.
Another option is to house the Rex indoors especially in extreme hot or cold climates. It does very well as a house rabbit and is easily litter box trained.
Make sure you check out our detailed diet plan for the Rex Rabbit to maintain a long and healthy life.
Rex Rabbit Lifespan
The average lifespan of the Rex is relatively short compared to other breeds. In general a properly cared for Rex will live about 5 to 6 years. Neutering can extend its lifespan to anywhere from 8 to 11 years.
Mini Rex Rabbit
The Mini Rex Rabbit is appropriately named as it looks like a miniature version of the Rex Rabbit. It has the soft and plush Rex fur as well as being proportionally smaller in size. The Mini Rex rabbit is an adorably good looking rabbit with a moderate energy temperament. Their friendly nature make them a very popular choice for a pet and are extremely good with children. The smaller stature in size make the Mini Rex very easy to handle, they can live indoors or out.
The breed was developed by Monna R. Berryhill, of Texas. She began working on the Mini Rex breed after she won a pair of Black Dwarf Rex bucks at the 1984 ARBA Convention in Orlando Florida which were donated by Marylouise Cowan. She then paired the little Black Dwarf Rex buck named Zoro (which was originally imported from Holland by Cowan) and crossed it with an undersized Lynx Rex doe named Cotton. The litter produced 7 offspring and the development of the Mini Rex Rabbit breed was started. Three of the seven were does named Happy, Bashful and Dopey. They were kept and became the foundation for the Mini Rex breed.
At the 1986 ARBA Convention in Columbus, Ohio Monna Berryhill presented a Castor Mini Rex to the Standards Committee. Monna described the long and careful scrutiny of the animal by the committee as “what seemed like a lifetime” the ARBA approved the working standard for the Mini Rex rabbit. Variety: Castor
Showmanship Allowable Colors
The Mini Rex comes in a wide variety of colors but only certain colors are recognized for show bunnies. The Mini Rex varieties that are allowed for showing are: Blue, Black, Red-eyed White, Chinchilla, Himalayan, Lilac, Chocolate, Lynx, Red, Seal, Opal, Tortoise Broken color and of course the original Castor.
Mini Rex Rabbit Lifespan
If properly cared for and handled a Mini Rex Rabbit can have an average lifespan of over ten years.