Meet the New Zealand Rabbit

Posted by Katherine Ripley
New Zealand white rabbits munch on carrots.

Originally bred for meat production, the New Zealand rabbit is a large rabbit breed that's not only great for anyone looking to get into raising rabbits, but will also be popular in any rabbitry.

When it comes to pet rabbits, the New Zealand rabbit, sometimes called the New Zealand white rabbit, is an understandable favorite.

These large white rabbits make great pets, and they're also popular as show rabbits. They're friendly, smart, and affectionate--what more could you want in a pet rabbit?

Before you bring home a new pet, it's important to understand what it takes to care for these rabbits, especially since this is a larger breed. Read on to determine if this beautiful bunny is right for your home.

History of New Zealand Rabbits

The New Zealand rabbit breed is not actually from New Zealand, but developed in America around 1910. United States rabbit breeders wanted a larger American rabbit breed to use as a meat rabbit. The New Zealand white rabbit is one of the few rabbit breeds that was brought from America to England, rather than the other way around.

Physical Characteristics

New Zealand rabbits come in white, black, red, and broken: a mixture of white and black or white and red. The white rabbits are by far the most popular and are bred the most often. New Zealand white rabbits have a condition called albinism, where the animal lacks melanin, the pigment which gives animals their skin, hair and eye color. This albino trait gives the rabbits a pure white coat.

These rabbits grow to be big bunnies. According to PetHelpful, New Zealand bucks can grow to weigh between 9 and 11 pounds, while does weigh 10-12 pounds.

Because of the large size of these rabbits, they need larger cages than your typical rabbit needs. They also eat more, requiring plenty of quality hay. Your rabbit will need to spend plenty of time outside of his cage daily, and these rabbits thrive on human interaction.

The average lifespan of a New Zealand rabbit is about five to eight years.

Purpose of These Rabbits

It is estimated that about 90 percent of the rabbits raised for meat are New Zealand rabbits. While they're popular meat rabbits, their white fur is also a popular commodity. But they are also raised to show, and they make great pets. White New Zealand rabbits are often used to portray the Easter bunny.

Is This The Right Rabbit Breed?

If you're considering getting a rabbit, the New Zealand can be a great choice because of its friendly nature, but be sure that you have enough space for this big rabbit breed. Other popular breeds include the Flemish Giant and Belgian Hare. If you're looking for a smaller pet rabbit, consider a Lionhead or Mini Lop. With so many different breeds of rabbits available, you'll be able to find a rabbit that's just right for your home.

Visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) to learn more about the New Zealand Rabbit.

Do you or anyone you know live with a New Zealand rabbit? Let us know on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This article was originally published April 29, 2020.

READ MORE: 10 Tips to Keep Rabbit Cages Clean, Safe, and Fun

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Meet the New Zealand Rabbit