Are you looking for a large rabbit breed with a stunning salt and pepper coat that is hardy, easy to care for, and has a great personality? Then the American Chinchilla rabbit could be ideal for you.
What exactly is an American Chinchilla?
An American Chinchilla is one of the chinchilla rabbit breeds that was originally bred for its fur and meat. With a silky coat that has four colors, a commercial body shape, upright ears, and a winning personality, this rabbit breed makes a great show rabbit and pet.
Let’s learn more about this rabbit breed.
What Is an American Chinchilla Rabbit?
Similar to the Standard Chinchilla, Giant Chinchilla, and Rex rabbit breeds, the American Chinchilla rabbit is one of three Chinchilla breeds that the American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes.
When well cared for, these rabbits can live for 5-8 years.
American Chinchilla Rabbit History and Origin
In the early 20th century, MJ Dybowski, a French engineer, bred the first Chinchilla rabbits. These bunnies were shown at Saint-Maur, France, in early 1913.
Seen as the ideal fur rabbit, this breed became very popular. And it looked like the South American Chinchilla Lanigera, too.
Four years later, the first of this breed was imported to England. And in 1919, a British exhibitor showed these rabbits at the New York State Fair. Edward H Stahl and Jack Harris bought the show rabbits that were rather small, weighing between 5-7.5 pounds.
Breeders in the United States wanted to breed a larger Chinchilla rabbit that would be better for fur and meat production. So through selective breeding, the Heavyweight Chinchilla was created and a breed standard was set.
The Heavyweight Chinchilla is bigger than the Standard Chinchilla, even though it is the same shape and color.
These two rabbits also have the same general genetic makeup. In 1924, both the Standard Chinchilla and the Heavyweight Chinchilla were added to the standards book.
And at some point, the Heavyweight Chinchilla became known as the American Chinchilla.
There isn’t only one person who can be credited with the creation of the American Chinchilla; however, one thing is certain. This breed has made a big impact on other rabbit breeds.
The American Chinchilla has been used in the creation of more rabbit breeds and varieties than any other breed.
The American Chinchilla has been bred with other breeds to create American Sable rabbits, Silver Marten rabbits, Siamese sable rabbits, and Sallander rabbit breeds.
A record of more than 17,000 American Chinchilla rabbits was registered through the American Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Association, now known as the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) between 1928 and 1929.
Because of the decline of the rabbit fur industry in the 1940s, there is currently only a small population of American Chinchilla rabbits.
Meat producers today prefer all white rabbits for meat production, so while the American Chinchilla has been bred to produce meat, it isn’t so in demand.
As such, the American Chinchilla has been listed as “critically endangered” by The Livestock Conservancy.
American Chinchilla Rabbit Characteristics
To recognize an American Chinchilla, look for these characteristics that set this rabbit breed apart:
The American Chinchilla rabbit has a commercial-shaped rabbit body. This means that rabbits with a commercial body shape are often bred for meat production because the kits grow fast and, when mature, the rabbits have big, meaty loins.
These rabbits also have a slight curve to their body shape. The curve starts at the nape of their neck and continues all the way down their spine to their bottom.
As a pet, their stocky body essentially means they are hardy and can adapt to various environments.
American Chinchillas weigh between 9-12 pounds when mature, making these rabbits a large rabbit breed.
An American Chinchilla’s ears always stand upright, so the bunny looks like it is always on alert.
American Chinchilla rabbits have a short, dense, silky, and soft coat. While your domestic rabbit won’t need to be groomed often, your bunny will love the attention and the time it gets to spend with its fur parent.
Since rabbits molt during spring and fall, you may see tufts of fur all over the rabbit cage, hutch, or where your bunny spends time inside your home.
Grooming your bunny with a rabbit-friendly comb more often (at least twice a week) during molting or shedding season ensures your rabbit sheds a bit faster. Plus, you’ll be combing out loose hairs, making cleaning up a lot easier.
An American Chinchilla rabbit is patient, passive, cooperative, and good-natured.
Because this rabbit breed was mainly bred for their fur and meat, they are at ease when people handle them. This means these rabbits make great pets for people who are single or have families.
These rabbits are also playful.
The ARBA accepts only one color of the American Chinchilla rabbit. This is the real color of a chinchilla.
At first glance, the fur of the American Chinchilla appears to be salt and pepper colored.
Chinchillas should have what’s called agouti coloring. This means that a single hair of their fur has 3 different colors.
The undercover where the fur meets the rabbit’s skin is dark slate blue, the middle of the hair is pearl, and the tips are gray. There is also an uneven black ticking all over the rabbit’s coat.
The American Chinchilla should have a dark slate blue base color, while the top edge should be an even darker blue with some light gray in between.
The rabbit breed also has eye circles that are well-defined. These circles are a light pearly color. An American Chinchilla’s belly, flanks, and neck also feature this pale, pearl ticking.
The underside of the American Chinchilla’s tail is white while the top is black with some white fur.
An American Chinchilla can have blue-gray, marbled, or dark brown eyes.
American Chinchilla Rabbit Care
Caring for an American Chinchilla rabbit is the same as for any other domestic rabbit breed.
For one, they need a well-balanced and healthy diet consisting of at least 70% good-quality hay. The second main component of their diet is feeding your American Chinchilla fresh leafy greens.
Treats in the form of high-carb veggies, fruit, and pellets should only be given during training or now and again. If you feed your rabbit too many high-carb foods, they will become overweight and unhealthy.
Since the American Chinchilla is a large rabbit, ensure the rabbit enclosure is large enough so your bunny has plenty of space inside their home.
The run should be nearly double the size of the rabbit house so your rabbit has enough space to run, play, and get some exercise.
An American Chinchilla rabbit can be kept either indoors or outdoors. However, for any outdoor hutch, make sure it is weather-proof.
You don’t want your bunny’s fur to become wet because it got rained on. Rabbits have a dense fur coat that doesn’t dry fast, so your bunny could suffer from hypothermia and die.
Also predator-proof the hutch so no wild animal can get to your bunny and make your American Chinchilla its next meal.
Breeding American Chinchilla Rabbit
American Chinchilla rabbits have been bred for 4 reasons:
Though rare, American Chinchillas are kept as pets these days. Their docile, sweet, and playful temperament makes them very suitable for first-time rabbit owners and those who are more experienced bunny parents.
When American Chinchilla rabbits aren’t being doted on as pets, they can be found at shows.
In shows, this rabbit breed is a six-class breed because adult American Chinchillas weigh over 9 pounds.
Moreover, these rabbits are very agile and can run fast. They do well in rabbit sports such as jumping and agility course racing.
Initially, one of the main reasons American Chinchillas were bred was for meat production.
Adult bucks weigh 9-11 pounds while does weigh 10-12 pounds, and with their commercial body type, these bunnies were popular with meat producers. Their kits also grew fast to reach market weight.
These days, rabbit meat producers prefer all white rabbits, so American Chinchillas aren’t a popular choice anymore despite them being ideal for this breeding purpose.
Another initial reason the American Chinchilla was bred was for their fur. However, with the decline of the fur industry (since the 1940s), this rabbit breed isn’t desired for its beautiful coat anymore – except when it is entered into shows.
American Chinchilla Rabbit Price
Expect to pay around $40 for an American Chinchilla if you buy the rabbit from a reputable breeder. However, these rabbits are rare, so it may not be easy to find an American Chinchilla.
Some breeders are desperately trying to not let the American Chinchilla rabbit breed die out, so if you can adopt a bunny and care for it, you are helping.
This easy to care for breed makes an excellent pet, and if you are into rabbit shows, then this could be the breed for you!