If you are looking for a small breed rabbit that has a commercial rabbit body, then the Silver Marten rabbit is ideal for you. Plus, the Silver Marten is perfect if you are a first-time rabbit owner.
So what exactly makes a Silver Marten rabbit unique?
The Silver Marten rabbit was bred in an attempt to improve the chinchilla rabbit breed. Breeders were fascinated by these black and silver rabbits that were playful, active, sweet, and timid. With a lifespan of 5-8 years, a Silver Marten rabbit can weigh between 6.5-9.5 pounds.
Let’s learn more about this interesting breed, where they came from, and how to take good care of a Silver Marten rabbit.
What Is a Silver Marten Rabbit?
Silver Marten denotes both the rabbit breed and distinct color with the top color of the coat being one color and the underside being either white or silver.
The Silver Marten rabbit is a small rabbit breed. Their body is classified as commercial. This means that their body length is medium, and the depth and width of their body are equal.
Commercial rabbit body types are mainly bred for meat production as the fullness of the body and firmness of their meat are desired qualities.
Silver Marten rabbits have also been bred for other purposes, and while they make excellent pets, they are quite rare.
Silver Marten Rabbit History and Origin
The Silver Marten rabbit first appeared in the United States in 1921. Around this time, breeders introduced a black tan rabbit into the genetic pool of chinchilla rabbits to improve the quality of their fur.
As a result, black sports or color mutations were introduced and could be seen in some chinchilla litters. At the time, breeders were fascinated by these strange little black rabbits, which had a similar coat color pattern as mink-like wild martens.
When the Silver Marten rabbits were bred or crossed with each other, the kits looked like their Silver Marten parents and not like their chinchilla grandparents.
In 1927, the first Silver Marten Rabbit Club was created. This is the same year that the American Rabbit Breeders’ Association (ARBA) established a working standard for the Silver Marten breed.
In 1933, ARBA accepted the blue-colored Silver Marten, and in 1993, the sable-colored Silver Martin was accepted.
The breed has also been used to introduce their unique color mutations to the Netherland Dwarf, Mini Rex, and Jersey Wooly rabbit breeds.
Silver Marten Rabbit Characteristics
To identify a Silver Marten rabbit, you can use these characteristics:
Appearance and Color Varieties
A Silver Marten rabbit looks similar to a Tan rabbit. The only difference is the tan underside markings of a Tan rabbit that are white or silver in a Silver Marten rabbit.
The original black Silver Marten rabbit’s glossy coat is black on top. The coat around their chin, belly, the underside of the tail, inside the ears and nostrils, and around the eyes is white or silver. Where the white and black fur meets on the rabbit’s side, you’ll find silver ticking.
A black Silver Marten rabbit has dark brown eyes, but the underside should be a dark blue.
There are three other Silver Marten rabbit breed color varieties that are accepted by ARBA. These are the blue Silver Marten, Chocolate Silver Marten, and sable Silver Marten rabbits.
The standard for a blue Silver Marten rabbit is that their whole coat should be a dark blue and their eyes a blueish gray.
With the chocolate Silver Marten rabbit, their coat is a deep dark brown (like semi-sweet chocolate) and their eyes are brown.
Their undersides are a lighter shade of brown. If you have a chocolate Marten, ensure they aren’t exposed to a lot of sunlight as this can cause the rich chocolate fur color to fade.
The sable Silver Marten, the least common of this breed, should be a medium sepia brown color on top.
This sable color should turn into a lighter shade toward the rabbit’s sides. The eyes, ears, tail, face, outside of their feet, and lower legs should be a dark, nearly black sepia.
Their coats are very shiny and soft. They have straight rabbit ears that stand up.
When mature, these rabbits can weigh anything between 6.5 to 9.5 pounds.
Silver Martens are calm and playful. If you have one as a pet, you’ll find that this rabbit breed is shyer and timider when compared to most other pet rabbits. However, as the bunny feels more comfortable around you, some of their shyness disappears.
Silver Marten Rabbit Care
If you have a Silver Marten rabbit that you show or keep as a pet, follow these best care tips:
The cage requirement for a Silver Marten rabbit is a minimum enclosure size of 12 square feet. In addition to this, the exercise area or run for a Silver Marten is 30 square feet. This is because these rabbits are very playful and active.
Make a soft bed for your rabbit with recycled newspaper or kiln-dried pine shavings, especially if the enclosure is made from wire mesh. The soft substrate or bedding will help protect your bunny’s feet. Plus, it will soak up urine if your rabbit isn’t potty trained (yet).
Silver Martens are hardy and can live either indoors or outdoors. However, they aren’t extreme temperature hardy.
So if you live in a state with scorching summers or freezing winters, then it is recommended to bring your rabbit inside as you don’t want your bunny to overheat or freeze to death.
If you keep your Silver Marten rabbits outside, ensure their hutch is weather and predator-proof.
The dietary needs for a Silver Marten rabbit are the same as it is for other pet rabbits.
About 70% of their diet will consist of quality hay. The rest of the nutrients your bunny needs should come from leafy greens.
Then as treats during training, you can feed your bunny fruit and veggies. Pellets shouldn’t be the main part of a mature rabbit’s diet, so limit how many pellets you feed your Silver Marten.
To keep a Silver Marten’s coat looking great, groom your bunny at least twice a week.
Use a small rabbit-friendly brush, gently brush through the fur to dislodge dirt and keep the coat shiny.
When your rabbit is molting, groom more frequently. This will speed up the molting or shedding process and make it easier for you to clean up the tufts of fur you’ll find around the hutch, cage, or rooms inside your home.
Silver Martens are quite hardy, so you don’t need to worry about every ailment under the sun. There are only two that are a common problem with this rabbit breed.
Ear mites are quite common in Silver Marten rabbits. Luckily, this is easy to treat. To reduce the risk of ear mites, deworm your Silver Marten every fall and spring.
The second health risk is flystrike, which only happens when your bunny’s fur is dirty and wet. If your rabbit has wet spots on its fur because of urine, this attracts flies. These flying insects will lay their eggs in your bunny’s fur, but the real problem is when these eggs hatch.
Prevent flystrike by regularly cleaning your bunny’s fur. You can gently sprinkle cornstarch powder, which will absorb any wetness. With a bunny-proof comb, brush your bunny’s fur to clean it.
The fly larvae or maggots will eat your bunny’s flesh. If not treated early on or prevented, your rabbit could die within 24 hours of the maggots hatching.
Breeding Silver Marten Rabbit
Traditionally, Silver Marten rabbits were bred to improve the fur on the standard chinchilla rabbit. These days, they are bred:
Although rare, some Silver martens are sometimes kept as pets. They are playful but shy and make ideal pets for first-time rabbit owners, seniors, people who are single or have a family.
They are a hardy breed and require minimal care.
Because of the breed’s distinct coloring and elegant body shape, they are often found in the “best of show” category in agricultural and pet shows.
Silver Martens have a commercial rabbit body, so they are often bred for their meat. They produce 8 pounds of meat on average per rabbit, and their meat is quite tasty.
Silver Marten Rabbit Price
It isn’t easy to find a Silver Marten rabbit, but if you do, expect to pay between $30 to $60 for a bunny.
If you want a Silver Marten that comes from a bloodline where Silver Marten rabbits won pet and agricultural shows, you will pay a lot more.
A Silver Marten makes an attractive pet and a show animal. To ensure your bunny lives for 5-8 years, it is best to take good care of it:
- Groom your rabbit often to ensure their coat stays shiny.
- Feed it a well-balanced diet.
- Ensure the rabbit enclosure is big enough, as well as the play area.
- Make sure your bunny doesn’t overheat during hot days or feel too cold during the winter months.
- Socialize your Silver Marten and play with it.