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Stronger Rabbits?

Discussion of specific breeds, breed standards and selection criteria for purebreds.
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Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Tera-Rizer » Fri May 19, 2017 1:57 pm


I had a pet Holland lop named Tera, she was awesome. Her temperament was perfect, absolutely nothing scared her, including having a vet poke and prod at her eye.
Unfortunately she passed suddenly 04/24/2017. her neck was broken and there's no explanation as to how it happen as she was in her cage overnight and there was nothing in there but hay and water.
My question instead of breeding for coat colors etc. is there any possible way to breed durability and strength into rabbits, stronger bones/joints etc??????

I feel like this should be possible as other animal species have had changes similarly done, either stronger or weaker results.

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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Sagebrush » Fri May 19, 2017 7:00 pm


It sounds as if she got scared and ran into the side of her cage. Unfortunately I don't think that would be a possibility in the near future. Rabbits are very delicately boned. You would have to breed very heavy bones into rabbits, which will increase their size. It will however not guarantee that they will not break their neck or back still. Smaller dogs are prone to breaking bones, long backed dogs (dachshunds) break their backs between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae because their spines are so long.

I lost my favorite buck "Jack" not to long ago from a broken back. Believe me, if I could have had a rabbit that wouldn't have succumbed to that injury, I wish it had been him.

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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby shazza » Fri May 19, 2017 10:15 pm


giant breeds like flemish and checkers have stonger bones than normal rabbits because of their size - but on the flipside, all that bone and size means that they don't really produce meat that well. they spend more time getting big and building bone instead of meat, that in order to get a decent amount of food off of one you'd have to raise it to a much older age than a standard meat rabbit. and the bigger the bunny, the more food it eats.

it sounds like your bunny was a pet, so a slower growth doesn't sound like a problem for you, but the majority of breeds were devloped as food and most are raised as such, so i'm not sure if a push toward a stronger skeleton would ever really occur since it would put a big dent in production times. they're just fragile little animals, unfortunately. it comes with their seat in the food chain. it's a two edged blade...their fragileness makes them easier to euthanize for us that raise them as food, but it is easier for them to kill themselves :(
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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Preitler » Sat May 20, 2017 8:26 am


Well, my meat mutts are strong boned, I'm not breeding commercially so it doesn't matter if they take somewhat longer to grow out. Anyway, my buck is 9-10lbs, and there must be a cat in his anchestry, at least he thinks so, he climbs up the hutches to nose the girls wherever he can get a foothold, sits on open hutch doors, jumped (or whatever he did, didn't see it) down a 8ft wall to get to a doe :twisted: ...
I've seen falls from 5ft with hitting a open door in midflight, never any injury (maybe more luck than anything else).

It sure is possible to breed in that direction, but who would do that on purpose? I wonder if there isn't a much easier remedy.

It sometimes happens that the rabbits freak out, had a problem with a fox a few years back, imho the most important thing for a rabbit in this situation is to have a safe place, a box or house with 2 holes where it can hide so that it doesn't see much of what is outside, and can't be seen from outside. They are prey animals, when scared they run for their holes. When they don't have that, they can panic completly, then they consider wire as kind of vegetation that will give way at some point and try to run through full speed, saw that when catching rabbits with a fence fyke. They forget what they should know about fences and try to dash through anyway.
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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby SableSteel » Sat May 20, 2017 10:28 am


To be honest, from my experience with rabbits, those big, 'heavy boned' rabbits are the ones I've seen with the most broken backs. Flemish and Californians mostly. As fragile as running breeds and Himalayans look, if they get into a bad situation, their legs usually break instead of their backs. I think all the extra weight, and this extremely 'meaty' or cobby body type, while it results in stronger bones, also gives the rabbit less room to move and twist and puts more strain and weight on it, so I wouldn't automatically say that they're more durable rabbits. Meat mutts, bred more for production than type, even seem hardier than the compact or commercial breeds.
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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Tera-Rizer » Sun May 21, 2017 11:14 am


Sagebrush wrote:It sounds as if she got scared and ran into the side of her cage. Unfortunately I don't think that would be a possibility in the near future. Rabbits are very delicately boned. You would have to breed very heavy bones into rabbits, which will increase their size. It will however not guarantee that they will not break their neck or back still. Smaller dogs are prone to breaking bones, long backed dogs (dachshunds) break their backs between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae because their spines are so long.

I lost my favorite buck "Jack" not to long ago from a broken back. Believe me, if I could have had a rabbit that wouldn't have succumbed to that injury, I wish it had been him.



She couldn't have been scared its just me and my fiance in a small house, Tera's cage was in the back of a closet and she was not prone to being scared, a year ago she was on a screened in porch once and lightning struck about 20' away, I screamed and she just calmly turned to look at me.

__________ Sun May 21, 2017 11:14 am __________

Preitler wrote:Well, my meat mutts are strong boned, I'm not breeding commercially so it doesn't matter if they take somewhat longer to grow out. Anyway, my buck is 9-10lbs, and there must be a cat in his anchestry, at least he thinks so, he climbs up the hutches to nose the girls wherever he can get a foothold, sits on open hutch doors, jumped (or whatever he did, didn't see it) down a 8ft wall to get to a doe :twisted: ...
I've seen falls from 5ft with hitting a open door in midflight, never any injury (maybe more luck than anything else).

It sure is possible to breed in that direction, but who would do that on purpose? I wonder if there isn't a much easier remedy.

It sometimes happens that the rabbits freak out, had a problem with a fox a few years back, imho the most important thing for a rabbit in this situation is to have a safe place, a box or house with 2 holes where it can hide so that it doesn't see much of what is outside, and can't be seen from outside. They are prey animals, when scared they run for their holes. When they don't have that, they can panic completly, then they consider wire as kind of vegetation that will give way at some point and try to run through full speed, saw that when catching rabbits with a fence fyke. They forget what they should know about fences and try to dash through anyway.


she was in a closet in our house, no kids no other people and no other animals, it was very quiet and she was never one to be frightened nothing bothered her

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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Nyctra » Sun May 21, 2017 1:15 pm


A burst of energy and running around could've done it. I've watched a youngster sprain it's neck or something because it dashed and crashed into the wire.
How sure are you it was a broken neck and not heart failure? Maybe a bad heart could've been why she was mellow.
Also, stressed rabbits aren't always wide-eyed and running in a panic.

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Re: Stronger Rabbits?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby houston » Sun May 21, 2017 11:33 pm


x2 on what Ny said-- a lot of my rabbits have real violent binks (I've seen my Champ doe launch herself in circles at mach speed, and I'm worried every time), so Tera might just have had a big emotion and binkied into the wall :(

Rabbits are weird in terms of durability. A kit might have its legs bitten off and grow to be a healthy adult or a rabbit can have their eyes removed and have no problem, but a running breed might step wrong and break a leg or a fur rabbit may keel over as the temperate changes. Beyond the current selection, I'm not sure how stronger rabbits could be selected for-- you'd have to keep them a long while to see how their qualities play out, and unless you're keeping them all there'd be so many different variables.
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