The History of My Herd

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My father raised New Zealand white rabbits for meat when I was a child so I have had rabbits for most of my life. I didn't much care for the idea of raising them for meat, though, so I got my first pet rabbit when I was about 12 years old. She was a black Netherland dwarf doe that I named Buggs. She lived to be 10 years old and was a wonderful pet. When I was 13 I got a castor rex buck named Tawny who was the most friendly rabbit I have ever seen. The following year I bought a tortoiseshell dutch doe named Taffita who was pretty shy and didn't seem to like to be held much. I decided I liked the rex fur and personality better so I started to search for a doe. Unfortunately the castor rex doe, Faline, I bought wasn't nearly as friendly as my Tawny, but what fur! I decided it was the rexes I wanted to breed. I tried to breed all 3 of my does with Tawny, but none ever concieved. I figure Tawny must have been infertile.

All of my original 4 rabbits died before I graduated from college, so when I graduated in 1998 I set out to buy some new rexes, but mini rex this time. I decided to look for a chinchilla colored doe and was also interested in getting a tri. After some searching, I found a local breeder who said she had a couple of tris and could look for a chinchilla for me at the show she was going to attend. I guess she figured a "gray" rabbit was all I needed since she bought me a broken opal instead. I decided to take her anyway since she was absolutely beautiful! I named her Whispher. I also bought one of her "tris"despite the fact that he didn't look like the tris I had seen pictures of and the fact that his fur didn't seem to be as soft as the other rexes I'd had. She insisted that he was a tri and that his fur would get softer when he get bigger. I didn't know any better, so I took her word for it. His fur did not get real soft and he is not a tri, but a broken tortoiseshell. His name became Toby and despite his faults he is a wonderful rabbit and the sire of many sweet and nice quality bunnies!

Whispher turned out to be a terrible mother. After losing 2 litters, she finally raised 1 baby out of a litter of 4, a castor doe I decided to keep. Her name was Butterscotch. She was a wonderful mother and always had big litters. I kept 2 of her babies, a castor buck named Almond and a castor doe named Sugar Maple. Sugar Maple was the best mother I have had so far! All of her kits survived. She died in 2004 from what I believe to be uterine cancer, but I never had her tested for it. (Whispher got killed in 2002 when a couple of dogs attacked my hutches. Butterscotch died from a wound I believe was inflicted by a raccoon in 2001 )

In 1999 I purchased 2 excellent quality bunnies, a castor buck named Ashlar and a black doe named Black Licorice. Both had wonderful blood lines and turned into a wonderful foundation, along with the rabbits mentioned in the previous paragraph, for my growing herd. Black Licorice died of kidney failure in 2003. Ashlar died in 2011 at the ripe old age of 12 1/2!

In 2000 I kept, along with Sugar Maple and Almond, Buttercup(broken Tortoiseshell doe), Marshmallow(white buck), Windsong (broken opal doe), Walnut(castor buck), Weeping Willow(amber buck), Clover(broken chocolate chinchilla buck), and Caramello (broken amber buck). Marshmallow was one of my best studs in my herd. He produced mostly big litters, wonderful quality, and very friendly babies. (Buttercup died from the same type of wound as Butterscotch had in 2002. Willow died from hairball blockage in 2004. He never sired a litter, so must have been sterile. Sugar Maple died in 2004 from what I believe was uterine cancer, but I never had her tested. Marshmallow died in 2005, 10 months after battling a severe case of wry neck and recovering from it. I believe his immune sytem was compromised. Walnut and Almond died of old age, Walnut in 2007 and Almond in 2008.)

I didn't buy or keep any rabbits in 2001.

3 does were kept in 2002 to replace the the does I had lost the previous year....Verbena(blue), Dandilion(castor), and Lily of the Valley(broken chinchilla)---I finally got the chinchilla I originally wanted! Verbena and Lily have raised some great bunnies for me. Lily retired in 2007. Dandilion has only had 1 litter. She never conceived again so I retired her at the age of 3. (Verbena died from an apparant hemorage while giving birth in 2004. Lily of the Valley died in 2007. Don't know the cause of death, but I suspect uterine cancer.)

Raspberry(broken chocolate doe), Orion(black buck), and Butterfly(broken black doe) were added to my herd in 2003. Orion has turned out to be a great herd stud, just like his father Marshmallow. Raspberry has had several tramatic births. Her 1st litter was born 4 days late because 1 of the babies was deformed and must have prevented any from being born on time. The other 2 kits were stillborn. Her 2nd and 3rd litters were born over 24 hour periods. A couple babies arrived on schedule, then another a few hours later, and another many hours after that. I use to breed my does 2 times in a day, 8 hours apart to increase chance of conception(rabbits are induced ovulators and ovulation takes approximately 8 hours to occur). I discovered that Raspberry CAN NOT be bred both times since she gets pregnant both times! So, I decided to try breeding her just once and what do you know...she had 5 kits and raised them without any problem! I'm glad I didn't give up on her. I have since changed to breeding my does twice, just 1 hour apart and have had great success with that method. Butterfly is a good mother and 1 of the few rabbits I have managed to get tortoiseshell kits from, the next best thing to a tri for me.

2004 brought my herd up to 18 with the addition of Raindrop(opal doe), Briar Rose(white doe), Star Dust(chinchilla doe), and Grape Vine(seal doe). I also purchased my 1st REAL tri mini rex. A doe I named Marigold. I got her from a shelter and unfortunately she doesn't have a pedigree, but I couldn't pass her up. I attempted to breed her numerous times and she never concieved. She died in 2007 without ever having any babies. Raindrop, Briar Rose, Grape Vine, and Star Dust were all great moms.

I added Catalpa(broken chocolate sallander buck) to my herd in 2005. I couldn't resist keeping him since he is the 1st sallander type I have ever had born and I instantly fell in love with the color. I also kept Queen Anne's Lace (frosted pearl doe) and purchased a young trio to add some new blood to my herd. The trio consists of Pumpkin Patch(tri buck), Ladybug(tri doe), and Autumn Leaf(harlequin doe). Autumn accidentally stomped all of her 1st 3 litters, but then raised many litters successfully and was a terrific mother. She was a very friendly rabbit as well. Ladybug had a few troubles with litters, but raised some nice babies as well. Queen Anne's Lace was a great mom but only had a couple litters.

In 2006 I had my very first red baby born. How could I resist keeping him!? He is a little on the large side, but has gorgeous fur. I named him Apple. I also kept Daffodil(blue/fawn tri doe) and Snow Flake(broken frosted pearl doe). They both have amazing fur and type and should be a great asset to my herd. Daffodil and Snow Flake have been wonderful mothers. Snow Flake was the 7th generation of does that I kept from the line of my original broken opal doe Whispher! She died young, probably from uterine cancer, but was a wonderful mother and loved being being a mom.

2007 was a productive year in my herd! Lots of babies around. I've been trying to breed my own blue buck for years without success, so I had a friend bring me one from Michigan. His name is Blue Spruce. I'm excited to add his genes to my herd. I also kept, from my own babies, White Cloud(white buck), Lilac(lilac/fawn tri), Mulberry(chocolate doe), Honeybee(broken castor doe), and Sky(blue doe).

2008 started with some very exciting new additions to my herd. I decided to expand and introduce a new breed of rabbits to my herd. My 4 velvet lions traveled here all the way from New Hampshire! Moonbeam(castor buck), Daisy(broken lilac doe), Ambrosia(chocolate doe), and Twilight(black doe) arrived in Gibsonia, PA in early April. Lily, the breeder I got my foundation velvet lions from began to develop this new breed in 2006 so they are brand new and extremely rare. I will be the 1st PA breeder to own them as far as I know. How exciting is that!? So, please check them out! Daisy, Ambrosia, & Twilight all have raised some beautiful babies. How fun to watch the babies of this new breed develop! I decided to keep 2 of Daisy's babies: Monarch(brindled castor doe) & Locust(broken chocolate buck). I'm hoping to use Monarch to start a line of tri/harlequin velvet lions. She is raising her 1st litter now and doing great so far. It turns out that both Daisy & Twilight carry the tri gene so I have plenty of it to work on tri & harlequin velvet lions! Locust is very tiny so will be useful in getting my velvet lions smaller. He's only about 2.3 lbs full grown! I have also kept 3 mini rex: Dogwood(white buck), Cicada(lilac/fawn harlequin buck), & Blackberry(black doe). Dogwood developed a crocked leg at a couple weeks of age. My vet tried splinting it with very little success. I'm fairly confident his leg is not genetic so may try breeding him at some point but he'll mostly just be a pet. I'll be using Cicada with my velvet lions as well as the mini rex to bring down their weights. He is a little guy at 2.9 lbs full grown! Blackberry is a tiny little girl who I'm probably going to use in the velvet lion program to help get their sizes down to the 2-3 1/2 lbs we are striving for. She broke her leg at 4 weeks of age and I was told by my vet that she'd be lame. However; she has recovered VERY well and you can't even tell by looking at her that she ever broke the leg.
I've begun to house some of my females in bonded pairs of 2 or 3. This is working out great and I've so far not had any difficulties with my litters being born in the cages with these pairs. It is saving me a lot of room and I no longer feel like I don't have room to keep new young breedable does. I have a lot of retired does in my herd who are now living happily with young breedable daughters!

In 2009 I added Rosemary (broken tortoiseshell doe), Sunflower (tortoiseshell doe), Mourning Dove (opal doe), and Sassafrass (broken chocolate doe)-a double maned velvet lion, to my herd. I also kept Thalia (blue/fawn tri doe) because she was having seizures. Unfortunately she died at 3 1/2 months of age, though. Lacewing (a blue/fawn tri doe) also stayed and keep her momma (Ladybug) company as she approaches retirement. She has splayed legs so will not be bred.

4 rabbits joined my herd in 2010: Hyacinth (blue/fawn harlequin doe), Sage (blue/fawn harlequin buck), Calla Lily (black/orange harlequin doe), and Thalia 2 (blue/fawn tri doe). I lost 6 rabbits this year: Clover, Dandilion, Queen Anne's Lace, Snow Flake, Grape Vine, & Raindrop. That is the largest amount to die in 1 year but I have a lot of old rabbits now so it is to be expected. I still cry everytime a rabbit dies, even after all of these years. I get so attached to them all! I love raising rabbits as much, if not more, now as I did when I started back in 1998.

2011 was a good year and I added 9 rabbits to my herd!: White Pine (white buck), Shasta Daisy (blue magpie doe), Blueberry (blue buck), Honeyberry (blue doe), Magnolia (white doe), Sweet Potato (chocolate/orange tri doe), Oregano (broken castor buck), Tulip (amber double mane velvet lion), and Sunbeam (amber double mane velvet lion buck). Oregano was actually techically a micro rex. He weighed in at only 2.32 lbs full grown! I only got 2 litters from him before he died from GI stasis in 2012. I started to try my hand at showing my rabbits this spring. I've been enjoying myself so far and even brought home some best in variety blue ribbons! My Sweet Potato earned a grand champion leg when she was about 1 year old. This was extremely exciting for me since tris don't win very often. It is very hard to breed a really superior quality tri and I do feel some judges don't like them very much and can be biased sometimes. Unfortunately Sweet Potato died from an apparent hemorage during kindling in 2013 and all of her babies died with her.
I have been trying to keep some more showable colors since I tend to breed lots of unusual colors, which I will still continue to do. My patriarch, Ashlar, died this year at 12 1/2! My other original patriarch died in 2009. I also lost Star Dust and Dogwood this year.

Well, that is the history of my rabbit herd thus far. I'll continue to update this page as new additions occur. Please visit My Mini Rex Herd, My Velvet Lion Herd, and Just for Fun pages to see photos my rabbits.