We started at Trickster Hares Farm with the Belgian Hare and the American. These two heritage breeds opened the door of discovery of the endangered rabbit breed list at the Livestock Conservancy. It appears our preference is for the look and type of rabbit that were popular many years ago, as we also got started in a few other heritage breeds, adding in the Harlequin, Beveren (heard so much about its personality!) and the Blanc de Hotot, which is the most exotic of meat-type rabbits.
We have a preference for the mandolin semi-arch typed rabbits that were the ideal rabbit type more than 50 years ago. This build is curvy, sexy, elegant. Nowadays the commercial type is what is seen in commercial meat facilities, and the old breeds went out of style, just like with other livestock breeds that fall from fashion due to commercial narrowing down to one or two breeds that produce well large scale. The difference is commercial type is more uniform from back to front, whereas mandolin has a heavy rear end and a semi-arched belly.
For us, we want rabbits that produce well, have large litters, and grow fast. We first and foremost are putting food on our tables and feeding our pets a healthy raw food diet. We select for these traits and are building up our lines in that direction. Show performance is a factor but if a rabbit is a slow grower or doesn’t produce large litters its not adding to the viability of a meat breed, heritage or no.
For fancy, which is purely fun, pets, and show, we raise the Belgian Hare.
Below find a brief synopsis on each breed we raise or raised.
An exquisitely fine and racy animal, Belgian Hares are very special and require special people to raise them. They have particular needs different from other rabbits – such as, no wire floors, extra large pens and runs for plenty of exercise. This rabbit needs to be able to move for its health and strength for its extra long back. They also require lots of patience – Hares breed when they want to, and not on schedule with anyone else. Many people report having just one litter a year, which is more than enough for this fancy animal. They make ideal pets for people whom the wild look speaks to their heart and soul, they are usually very smart, easy to litter box train, affectionate and fairly calm, making them quite suitable for an indoor pet. Belgian Hares were bred in Europe and England to look like the wild European hare. They were first imported to the U.S. in 1888 and fetched exorbitant prices – $500 to $1000 apiece in pre-1900 dollars! Those were called the Belgian Hare Boom Years. The Livestock Conservancy lists this rabbit as Threatened. For more info on the history this rabbit, visit the club page.
Its been theorized that Beverens fell out of favor as a meat breed due to their oversized personalities! These rabbits are the goofiest, quirkiest, gentlest, and can be one of the most affection-demanding rabbit breeds. Many people who find themselves breeding Beveren do not find it easy to eat them for this reason. At the same time, we do not promote bad traits here, from physical defects to personality issues, so those are the ones that go on the table. Beverens are the most popular rabbit here at Trickster Hares Farm because they are just so adorable we end up keeping many. They do fairly with colony lifestyle if introduced early – if a doe is kept in colony she seems happy enough, its the separation and re-introduction that doesn’t always work as once they have a taste of their own territory, many Beveren does prefer to keep it that way. Our Beverens do excellent on the show table, winning Best of Breed in shows of over 40 animals, multiple times. We’ve also won Best of Fur. We select here for fur, despite the marks on the show table causing other breeders to focus mainly on type. The Beveren was a fur breed raised for its fur for a reason, and unfortunately due to points on the show table – many breeders have let slip the emphasis on fur. We find the pelt on the Beveren is one of the best, with its rollback and density. Its been very exciting to promote this exceptional breed. Beveren come in black, blue, and blue-eyed white. We raise the latter two colors. This breed is very old, coming from Beveren, Belgium, but was first recognized in the U.S. in 1925. Its on the Watch list by the Livestock Conservancy. Many dedicated breeders are working with this breed but we still need more to keep the viability going. For more info, visit the club page.
We also have certain Rexed Beverens, a throwback to the 1920’s when the Rex gene was introduced to Beveren as a coat option. We’ve enjoyed playing around with breeding these animals, they tend to be smaller than normal Beveren, and their coats are often wavy and extremely soft like a Rex. Due to an accidental Rexed Beveren – Belgian Hare cross there is a
A mandolin shaped rabbit with a pleasant demeanor, and a rich deep blue coat, and also white. I personally find most Americans highly suitable for communal and colony living. They tend to be less territorial or aggressive and I see many does able to coexist in harmony together. They are a big rabbit. The American was originally called the German Blue and was renamed after WWI. It was introduced as a breed in 1917. Its listed as critical by the Livestock Conservancy. More info on its history visit the club page.
Blanc de Hotot
Most exotic of the meat variety of rabbits is the Blanc de Hotot. Listed as Threatened by the Livestock Conservancy, this breed by ARBA breeder tallies list it as the #1 most critically endangered in the U.S. Very few pure bloodlines exist in the country. The breed dates back to 1912 in France, while the original imports of this breed into the U.S. occurred in the 1970’s with the first showing in 1978. The original breed has very unique fur with a frosted sheen and the distinctive black markings around the eyes much like black eyeliner, making this rabbit very beautiful (and inspiring Arabic and Egyptian names!) Imports from Germany and France have occurred in recent years to regain the vigor and vitality of the breed and to reclaim the fur characteristics. Visit the old club page for history, will be updated to the new club page when I can locate it.
This breed is very rare in California. It is not listed as endangered or a heritage breed. This is a small breed, rabbits weighing 2-3 lbs. This is the dwarf version of the Blanc de Hotot. These rabbits are mostly coveted for pets, and for show. The lines I have are very personable, having originated in a facility who used them for petting zoos. They are friendly and appear to enjoy being pet. Being a small breed they tend to be a little more high energy but with all that bouncing around, settle in for a good long petting session just the same.
A lively, bright little animal, with exceptional mothering skills, a very fine temperament make the Harlequin ideal for both a meat breed and as pets. This breed would be ideal in the new sport called “Hopping” or “Rabbit Agility” as the Harlequin is very smart, and exceptionally athletic, leaping with ease over any fences. In fact it appears any attempt at containing a Harlequin provides simply another interesting puzzle to solve for their inquisitive minds. When I experienced Harlequins in the house (to let the new youngster bond with me) I was subjected to her flying through the air and landing gracefully in my lap for a petting session. They very well might be acrobats and gymnasts, if Harlequin could be. They have a solid build on a fine bone making them a wonderful source for food, plus not too large for a house pet. Another French breed, this one is quite old dating back to the 1800’s. Originally called the Japanese, this rabbit experienced a name change after WWII when “Japanese” became unpopular. We have all the colors here at Trickster Hares. Harlequin is listed as Watch status by the Livestock Conservancy, and are quite rare on the West Coast.
We only have one pair of lionheads at this time as pets, as the blue eyed white color has not been accepted yet. This breed passed as a new breed in ARBA just last year. We occasionally have offspring, maybe once a year or when we have enough requests.
Pets & Meat Mutts
We do occasionally have pets that are mixed breed, often those are accidents from a buck escaping and visiting a does’ playpen. Some of these mixes are part Belgian Hare, the worst offenders as they are often in pens. We were also working on an Hotot coloration on the Lionhead and have offspring from that discontinued project. In addition we have some mixed breeds kept for size and growth rate for feeding our family. If you are looking for just a pet or rabbits for backyard food production without caring about purebred status, we may have something for you feel free to ask.beautiful line started towards the Astrex project with calls for an arched curly breed, plus has the intelligence and sweet temperaments of the Beveren & Belgian Hare combined.