What is hopping Valencia County? This is Marisol Olivas reporting from the Valencia County Extension Office! For this month’s edition, I have decided to write about all things related to rabbits.
Rabbits are unique creatures that many may not be familiar with. I hope that you hop along with me for the ride to learn about rabbits and hopefully laugh at the jokes along the way!
Rabbits can be used for several purposes. They can be a companion animal to simply provide comfort to us. Rabbits can also be used for their meat. Some rabbits have marvelous hair that can be used for fiber products. Lastly, rabbits can be used for competitions and showing in 4-H events.
Joke break: Why did the bald man paint rabbits on his head? — Because from a distance they looked like hares.
Did you like that joke? Well, I thought it was a good one. Now I will share some interesting facts about rabbits. There are currently more than 300 breeds of rabbits across the globe, with 50 breeds being recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
One of the most bizarre facts I have learned about a rabbit is the number of teeth they have. Can you guess how many teeth a rabbit has? Not two, not six, but 28 teeth.
Have you heard the saying, “breeding like rabbits?” This saying has some merit to it as rabbits can populate rapidly due to having short gestation periods of an average of 31 days. Rabbits can also have anywhere between one to 14 baby rabbits, also known as kits, within one litter.
Before I knew anything about rabbits, I used to think rabbits were simply “little bunny foo foos, hopping through the forest,” and their only purpose was to be a pet. I have come to learn that rabbits are used within the agriculture industry every day.
Meat rabbits are utilized for food by both consumers and zoo animals. Cooked rabbit provides a great source of protein, iron and vitamin B.
As for hair, a rabbit breed with luscious wooly hair is the Angora breed. Picture a rabbit with white cotton candy for hair, this is what an Angora rabbit looks like. The Angora rabbit produces wool that is sheared off the rabbit, spun, dyed and turned into yarn.
Joke break: What’s invisible and smells like carrots? — Rabbit farts.
The rabbit industry, both domestic and wild populations, has been and still is facing a major threat. Remember back when the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Well the rabbit world was also facing a similar virus. Rabbits were being impacted by rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD). This virus is very contagious and can be transmitted between rabbits through many routes.
These routes include coming into contact with an infected rabbit, whether it be living, dead or simply touching their meat or fur. Other routes consist of eating or drinking contaminated water or food. RHD is catastrophic to rabbit populations as this virus is deadly.
This virus occurs rapidly and causes internal bleeding, liver damage and swelling. It is important to note that this virus impacts rabbits and is not known to be transmitted to humans or livestock.
Several preventative measures can be utilized to keep this virus from impacting domestic rabbits. There is a vaccine to treat and prevent RHD, but does not provide a cure. It is important to utilize biosecurity measures, such as disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces in and around your rabbit area.
In the showing world, rabbits are the perfect species to become involved in. They are great for younger children who want to get involved in showing and raising an animal. They also provide a challenge to older 4-H members who are looking for a sophisticated species to show.
There are a lot of components to showing a rabbit, including knowing proper breed characteristics and having a representable animal. The exhibitor must be able to handle and position the rabbit.
Rabbit showmanship is the hardest part as you have to know the ins and outs of your rabbit all while presenting live in front of a judge.
Showmanship involves communicating with the judge while presenting your rabbit and knowing more than 100 diseases. You must be prepared to answer any question related to rabbit health for senior members.
Joke break: What did the rabbit say to the carrot?— “It’s been nice gnawing you.”
It doesn’t take much for me to laugh, but I found that joke to be pretty funny. I hope you enjoyed the jokes that were along the way and learned something new about rabbits. Thank you for joining me on this rabbit journey, and I hoped you gained some knowledge about the rabbit industry.
To register for an upcoming program, call the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service at 505-565-3002. For more information, visit valenciaextension.nmsu.edu.
- Ready, Set, GROW!: Free gardening classes are being offered virtually. Visit the link, valenciaextension.nmsu.edu, for more information.
If you are an individual with a disability who requires auxiliary aid or service to participate in a program, please contact the Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service Office at 505-565-3002 two weeks in advance of the event.