Small in size, the Himalayan rabbit is one of the oldest rabbit breeds. Best known for their color markings and calm demeanor, these bunnies are primarily bred for show purposes, but also make fantastic pets.
So, how do you care for a Himalayan rabbit? Like all other rabbits, the Himalayan will need a spacious cage with a plastic or metal bottom to live in. Line the cage with bedding to make it comfortable, spot clean it every day, and remove the entire bedding weekly. Your pet rabbit’s diet should consist of 70% hay, fruits, veggies, and pellets.
Keep on reading if you’re looking for an easy-going, calm, and small pet rabbit. By the end of this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Himalayan rabbit breed and why they make superb pets and companions.
What Is a Himalayan Rabbit?
The Himalayan rabbit is one of the oldest rabbit breeds in existence. This small bunny is often confused with the Californian rabbit which was created by crossing New Zealand Whites, with Standard Chinchilla rabbits and Himalayan rabbits.
The Himalayan rabbit is rather unique in the sense that it’s the only cylindrical rabbit breed recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Himalayan Rabbit History and Origin
The Himalayan is one of the oldest breeds of rabbit. In fact, they are so old that their exact origin has been lost in time.
While some experts believe that they indeed originated in the Himalayan mountain region, their origin has been traced to Asia and the Middle East.
Originally there was only the black Himalayan rabbit, and the blue variety was created later on. The chocolate and lilac Himalayans were created by different crosses depending on where they originated.
This rabbit breed made its way to the United States in the early 1900s and is the only cylindrical breed recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (source).
The Himalayan rabbit plays a major role in the development of many other rabbit breeds. The Californian rabbit, for example, was created by crossing Himalayans with New Zealand White rabbits and Chinchilla rabbits.
Himalayan Rabbit Characteristics
The Himalayan is the only rabbit breed known to have a cylindrical body shape. When viewed from the air the sides should be straight from their shoulders to the back legs without becoming narrower.
Even when you stretch out the Himalayan rabbit as far as it can go, its feet will remain flat on the ground, which makes them unique in the rabbit world.
Unlike many other rabbits, a purebred Himalayan will always have pink irises. This trait shouldn’t be confused with red eyes which are commonly seen in certain breeds like the New Zealand White rabbit.
If you come across a Himalayan rabbit with red eyes know that it’s either a mixed-breed or misidentified sable point.
Size, Weight, Shape
The Himalayan is a small rabbit with a cylindrical body type. Full-grown Himalayan rabbits weigh from 2.5 to 4.5 pounds, which is their maximum weight according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
The Himalayan rabbit is best known for its coat markings, which look exactly like the markings of a Himalayan cat. These rabbits always have a white body with different colored markings.
They have a dark spot on the nose, dark ears, front feet (socks), and back feet (boots). Their markings can change with age and the environment.
Cold temperatures may darken, enlarge, and also add new markings around the eyes, genitals, or other parts of the body. Warmer weather, on the other hand, may lighten, shrink, or cause white hairs in the markings, also known as frosting.
Baby rabbits are particularly sensitive to temperatures. Most Himalayan kits will look like albino baby rabbits in the warmth of their nest since they start to develop their true markings only once they become independent from their mother.
The markings of a Himalayan rabbit can be black, blue, chocolate, or lilac. This type of coloration is caused by a heat sensitive-enzyme that creates brown pigment melanin on the Himalayan rabbit’s body. This enzyme is active on the parts of the body that are discolored, creating a darkly colored nose, ears, feet, and tail.
Himalayan rabbits have short, soft, flyback coats that don’t need extensive grooming to stay healthy and clean. Like all other rabbits, your Himalayan bunny will also shed more during the molting season in spring and fall.
During this time, you’ll want to brush your pet bunny more often – two or three times a week, to keep the shedding at a minimum (source). Otherwise, a weekly brushing will be more than enough to keep your rabbit’s coat clean and shiny.
The Himalayan rabbit has an average lifespan of five to eight years. However, when properly cared for and spayed or neutered at a young age, many Himalayan bunnies can live over 10 years without experiencing any major health issues.
If you are looking for a small and easy-going pet rabbit that likes to be handled, the Himalayan is a perfect choice!
Not only are they one of the calmest rabbits you’ll come across, but their small size makes them perfect for small children’s hands. Himalayan rabbits aren’t known to scratch, bite, or kick their people, which makes them ideal pets for families with young or older kids.
Mostly calm, good-natured, and friendly, Himalayan bunnies don’t mind being picked up, petted, or handled by people. Friendly by nature, these small bunnies like to spend time and interact with their owners and will appreciate being allowed to roam around your home.
While not as active as some high-energy breeds, Himalayan rabbits need a lot of time outside their enclosures to bond with their families and stretch their legs. Allowing your bunny to roam freely is a great way to keep them exercised and help them spend some quality time with you.
Like all other rabbits, the Himalayan can easily become bored without proper mental stimulation. These bunnies need toys to play with and chew on, so invest in a rabbit-safe block of wood to prevent boredom and keep their teeth at an ideal length.
Himalayan rabbits can learn how to use a litter box. While litter training a rabbit is a bit more difficult than training a dog or a cat, it isn’t impossible.
Many owners have found that placing several litter boxes in different corners around the house speeds up the training process.
Himalayan Rabbit Care
Himalayan rabbits are generally easy to keep and raise, and caring for them isn’t much different than caring for any other pet rabbit. Here are a few things you should pay attention to:
Himalayan rabbits can live either indoors or outdoors as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing. Bear in mind that Himalayan kits are particularly sensitive to cold, so be sure to bring them indoors on colder days.
Indoor cages should be made from sturdy and durable wire your bunny can’t chew through and have a hard bottom. Steer clear from cages with wire bottoms since they are rather uncomfortable and can cause sore hocks.
To make the enclosure comfortable for your bunny to live, eat, and sleep in, line it with hay, wooden pellets, or shredded paper. Spot clean the bedding every day and remove it completely once a week to keep the cage clean.
Ideally, the diet of Himalayan rabbits should consist of 70% hay. The rest should be made of equal parts fruits, vegetables, and high-quality pellets.
Keep in mind that some fruits, veggies, and leafy greens can cause digestive problems and are unsafe for rabbits to eat. If you are unsure whether or not your bunny should eat a particular type of food, err on the side of caution and don’t feed it to them.
Himalaya rabbits don’t suffer from any genetic health problems and are considered a generally healthy breed. However, like all other rabbits, Himalayans can also suffer from common rabbit diseases.
The most commonly seen problems in this breed are overgrown teeth (caused by lack of hay in their diet), ear mites, and flystrike. To prevent dental problems, inspect your bunny’s teeth weekly and feed them a diet rich in hay which will naturally file their teeth to an appropriate length.
Himalayan Rabbit Price
Himalayan rabbits on average cost between $25 and $60 when sold as pets. If you’re looking for a show-quality rabbit, expect to pay significantly more depending on the breeder, pedigree, and coat color.
Best known for its cylindrical body shape and coat markings, the Himalayan rabbit is primarily bred as a show rabbit. However, these small bunnies make fantastic pets to people of all ages due to their calm and friendly nature.
Perfectly sized for smaller hands to pick up and hold, these sweet bunnies make great pets to families with young children. While not as energetic as some other breeds, Himalayan rabbits need to spend a lot of time outside their enclosures to explore and bond with their families.