Looking for a rabbit that is medium-sized and sports an all-black coat that is glossy? Then look no further. The Alaska rabbit is an ideal addition to your home!
What is an Alaska rabbit? Do they come from Alaska? Do they make good pets?
An Alaska rabbit is a medium-sized rabbit with a commercial body. Though not recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, these rabbits make great pets. They are easy-going and friendly. Their most distinguishing feature is their thick glossy jet-black coat.
Let’s learn more about this breed.
What Is an Alaska Rabbit?
Most people who hear “Alaska rabbit” think this rabbit breed originated in Alaska, and maybe it should be white to represent the snow.
They couldn’t be more wrong. The Alaska rabbit was bred in Germany and has a black coat. It’s a medium breed, weighing between 7-9 pounds.
The average lifespan of an Alaska rabbit is 7-10 years; however, your bunny can live longer if you make sure to look after it well and take it for regular checkups at the vet.
The Alaska rabbit is comparable to the Himalayan rabbit and the Champagne d’Argent rabbit.
Alaska Rabbit History and Origin
A German rabbit judge by the name of Max Gotha and a rabbit breeder bred the Alaska rabbit using Havana, Himalayan, Dutch, and Champagne d’Argent rabbits.
Max and the unnamed rabbit breeder were trying to breed a rabbit that had the same kind of fur as the Alaskan fox (and now we know why the rabbit was named the Alaska rabbit).
The fur of the Alaskan fox was very sought-after in the fur trade industry during the 1900s. As such, Max and the rabbit breeder hoped to benefit from the Alaska rabbit pelts.
Instead of breeding a rabbit with a black coat and long white guard hairs, the Alaska rabbit has a jet back coat. Even the long guard hairs are black.
Because the Alaska rabbit with its glossy black fur is such a beauty, they kept the breed as is. The Alaska rabbit was used to breed the black Rex rabbit.
In 1907, the Alaska rabbits were shown for the first time in Europe. People were enamored by the breed and it quickly gained recognition.
In the United States, the Alaska rabbit breed was recognized in the mid-1970s. However, the black Havana rabbit was a more popular choice in the 1980s. As a result, the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) dropped the Alaska rabbit from its registry.
Luckily, the Alaska breed is still recognized by the British Rabbit Council (BRC).
Alaska Rabbit Characteristics
Use these characteristics to identify rabbits belonging to the Alaska breed:
Alaska rabbits have good bone development for their well-rounded, balanced bodies. Their body type actually belongs in the commercial category, meaning they are blocky and can be bred for meat production.
Male Alaska bunnies are heavier when compared to female Alaska. The female bunnies in this breed are feminine and have a dewlap. The dewlap is a fatty tissue pouch or flap of skin that grows underneath the rabbit’s chin.
The ears of Alaska rabbits are short and upright. They are also rounded at the tips and broad in the middle.
The Alaska rabbit has a short and dense coat that looks luxurious – it’s glossy and silky. The coat of this rabbit breed is one of its most distinctive features.
The temperament of an Alaska rabbit can be summarized as docile, outgoing, and good-tempered. These personality traits make an Alaska bunny a great pet rabbit option.
An Alaska will enjoy spending time with their fur parent. They are smart, so with patience, you can train your bunny to do tricks and potty in the litter box.
Rabbits are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active in the early mornings and during the evenings. The same can be said for the Alaska rabbit.
Ensure your bunny gets plenty of exercise and playtime and pet your rabbit when they are relaxed. Rabbit-friendly toys also help to keep your bunny mentally stimulated.
These bunnies are also sometimes skittish, so if you have young kids, teach them how to handle the Alaska bunny with gentleness and care. This will help prevent injuries and ensure your bunny loves your kids as much as you do.
The fur coat of the Alaska rabbit breed is solid in color. The coat of a registered Alaska can only be jet black; however, the fur closest to the rabbit’s skin is more deep slate blue. Then toward the fur tip or surface, it turns more black.
The pads of the Alaska rabbit’s feet have a matte black hue. The belly and nose may also have this hue.
Alaska has dark toenails and dark brown eyes. You might find a few white hairs scattered throughout your rabbit’s coat; however, these will be minimal.
Alaska Rabbit Care
If you have an Alaska rabbit as a pet or are considering buying or adopting one, follow these best care tips to ensure your bunny is well looked after:
Cage or Hutch
An Alaska rabbit is medium in size, so it needs a hutch that is at least 6 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet (length x width x height). You need double the amount of space if you have two Alaska rabbits that are bonded.
In the hutch, you need soft bedding, a litter box, water bowls, a hay dispenser, a food bowl (for the yummy leafy greens your bunny will munch on), and toys. There should also be a run so your Alaska bunny can play and hop to meet their exercise requirements.
Indoors or Outdoors
The Alaska rabbit is hardy, so you can keep your pet rabbit inside or outside.
If you keep your bunny outside, ensure the hutch is predator-proof. You don’t want to go outside to feed or check on your rabbit only to discover a fox, coyote, or other wild animal made a feast out of your rabbits.
The hutch should also be weatherproof. This means the hutch is raised off the ground and no rain or wind can make it inside. It is important that your Alaska rabbit’s fur doesn’t get wet. It takes a long time for dense coats to fully dry out.
A wet coat can lead to your bunny catching a cold, and if there’s wind, it could lead to your rabbit suffering from hypothermia, which could be fatal.
Whether you keep your bunny inside your house or outside, ensure they get some time in the sun.
Keeping your bunny indoors means rabbit-proofing your home. You don’t want your pet bunny trying to dig holes through your expensive Persian rugs or chewing on electric cables.
As with other rabbits, feed your Alaska bunny a well-balanced diet that consists mostly of high-quality hay. Your bunny should have an unlimited supply of fresh hay to help with its hind-gut fermentation process and also to keep its teeth short and healthy.
Fresh leafy greens make up the other main component of your rabbit’s diet. Fruit, pellets and high-calorie veggies make up a small portion of the Alaska rabbit’s diet.
It’s recommended to feed small pieces of fruit and veggies as rewards during training or as treats every now and again. Keeping high-calorie foods to a minimum ensures your bunny doesn’t put on unnecessary weight, which can lead to obesity and a host of other serious health complications.
It’s essential to vaccinate your Alaska rabbit to protect them from viral hemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis. These conditions, if not treated early on, could be fatal.
Deworm your rabbit at least once a year or during spring and fall. Ensure your rabbit lives in a clean environment to reduce the risk of fleas, mites, and ticks – but still, regularly check your rabbit for these so they can be treated early on.
Breeding the Alaska Rabbit
The Alaska rabbit isn’t popular amongst breeders or exhibitors because it isn’t recognized by ARBA even though other rabbit organizations and societies recognize the breed.
So despite the luxurious, all-black coat that Alaska rabbits have, they aren’t used for rabbit shows or exhibitions.
These rabbits aren’t bred for meat either even though they have a commercial body shape. The reason is that rabbit meat producers prefer all white rabbits for meat production.
As such, the Alaska rabbits are kept as pets. With their docile disposition and outgoing nature, these bunnies fit in well with people who are single or those who have families with older kids.
Alaska Rabbit Price
The Alaska rabbit is no longer recognized by ARBA. As a result, these bunnies aren’t popular with breeders.
If you can find an Alaska rabbit at a reputable breeder or local shelter, expect to pay between $20-50 for one rabbit.
The Alaska rabbit will make a good addition to your family. These medium-sized bunnies are hardy. With an average lifespan of 7-10 years, and possibly even longer if you look after your bunny well, you’ll have a lifelong pet.