A calm and outgoing companion, the Himalayan rabbit is one of the oldest rabbit breeds. Their coloring, similar to a Himalayan cat, has made them a popular breed among bunny lovers everywhere.
Getting to Know the Himalayan Rabbit
Although their name refers to Himalayan, the breed may in fact be from the Far East. The breed was brought to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century. They were originally bred in the U.S. for fur and eventually became a favorite pet and show rabbit. They were one of the very first rabbit breeds to be recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Himalayan Rabbit Names
Because the breed has been around for so long and has possible origins in several countries, it has a variety of breed names. It is also known as the Black Nosed Rabbit from China, the Chinese rabbit, Black Nose, the Russian Rabbit and the Egyptian Smut. They are often known by the nickname "Himmie" in the United States.
What Do Himalayan Bunnies Look Like?
Himalayans are small rabbits, weighing about three to five-and-a-half pounds when fully grown. They are the only "cylindrical" breed the ABRA accepts. This body type is long and appears round when viewed head on with the rabbit stretched out. It's sometimes referred to as snake-like.
Himalayan Rabbit Coat
The Himalayan is similar to the Siamese and Himalayan cat when it comes to their coat color. Their body is white with "points" on their ears, nose and feet. Black is the most common point color, but you can also find Himalayans with black, blue, chocolate and lilac points. Their fur is short and is "flyback" which means the fur moves back to its original place if you run your hand through it. They require minimal grooming aside from a weekly brushing. They will shed during molting season. An interesting fact about the Himalayan is that their fur is all white or grey when they are kits and their points come in as they get older.
Himalayan Rabbit Temperament
Himalayans are gentle rabbits that enjoy human contact. They are considered one of the best rabbits to have as pets for their easy going demeanor and ease with children. They are one of the most laid back rabbits and love snuggling and handling. Although all rabbits can bite, the Himalayan is known for rarely doing so. While they are sweet and loving, they are also quite intelligent and will need mental stimulation to be happy. You can provide them with cat toys and even teach them tricks with a clicker. They also will need time out of their cage to roam around regularly.
Himalayan Bunny Health and Welfare
Your average Himalayan rabbit will live for about four to five years. Himalayans don't have many medical concerns specific to their breed. They are susceptible to common problems found in all rabbits such as overgrown teeth and ear mites. They also develop a condition called "flystrike" which is when flies nest in their flesh and hatch eggs. The developing flies can literally eat the rabbit alive, which can be fatal for the rabbit, as well as quite painful.
The Himalayan Rabbit Home Setup
Although you can keep them outside in a hutch, inside is recommended. In cold temperatures their fur can actually become darker and baby Himalayans do not handle the cold well. Your minimum cage size should be 24" x 15" with a wire frame and solid bottom. There should be plenty of room for your rabbit to move around and if you keep more than one you should double the size of at least the minimum needed. You can line the cage with bedding such as Carefresh or straw and it should be cleaned often with a complete changeover once a week.
Feeding a Himalayan Bunny
Himalayan rabbits eat a diet of 70% Timothy hay, 25% commercially made rabbit pellets and 5% fresh fruits and vegetables. They also need a lot of hay to chew on or their teeth can become overgrown leading to a painful dental condition. When supplementing with fresh foods, make sure they are rabbit friendly as some fruits and vegetables can make them sick.
Getting a Himalayan Bunny of Your Own
If you're looking to buy your own Himalayan, visit the website for the American Himalayan Rabbit Association. You can also find breeder information on the ARBA and USA Rabbit Breeders sites. The average price for a Himalayan is about $25 to $60, with show rabbits at the higher price end. Himalayans are a common rabbit so you should be able to find them in rescues and shelters as well. You can use the Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet websites to look for them by breed.
About the Himalayan Rabbit
The Himalayan rabbit has been a beloved pet for almost a century in the United States. It's easy to see why with their lovely, calm temperament and cuddly behavior with children and adults. Their striking colors and easy-to-care for fur also makes them the perfect choice for the rabbit novice pet owner.