The Californian rabbit is a distinctive white color, with dark brown points and pink eyes. These large rabbits weigh up to 12 lbs, and are known for their friendly personalities.
Also known as a California White, this handsome rabbit is sure to draw curious glances from visitors to your home.
Let’s take a look at where these bunnies originate, what they are like as pets, and what’s involved in caring for an adult or baby Californian rabbit.
California Rabbit FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the California White rabbit.
- How big do Californian rabbits get?
- What are Californian rabbits used for?
- Do Californian rabbits live outside?
What’s in This Guide to the Californian Rabbit?
- Where does the Californian rabbit come from?
- Californian rabbit appearance
- Californian rabbit temperament
- California White rabbit health and care
- Californian rabbit Lifespan
- California White rabbit care
- Similar breeds to the Californian rabbit
- Is a California White rabbit right for me?
What Is A Californian Rabbit?
The Californian rabbit is easy to spot in a crowd, thanks to the breed’s size and signature coloration.
Where Does The Californian Rabbit Come From?
The Californian rabbit was reared in the 1920s in California, primarily to provide good quality meat and fur.
First, Himalayan rabbits were crossbred with standard Chinchilla rabbits. Secondly, their offspring was then crossed with New Zealand rabbits. The result was a large, well-fleshed rabbit with almost pure white fur.
These days, Californian bunnies are still reared for their meat in some countries.
Californian Rabbit Appearance
Californian rabbits tend to be rounded and plump in shape. Additionally, they often have a good covering of muscle across their hindquarters.
Baby Californian rabbits look just like round bundles of silky soft fluff, just begging to be petted!
However, this breed is largely known for their coloration.
Californian Rabbit Colors
Californians are white with very dark chocolate brown “points” on the tail, ears, nose and feet.
On purebred Californian rabbits, the markings on the bunny’s nose continue below the jaw line and upwards to the eyes. The points on the legs run upwards towards the rabbit’s body. Sometimes it appears as though the bunny is wearing stockings!
Californian’s ears are dark brown from base to tip. They are large and held erect, rather like those of their relatives, Flemish giant rabbits.
Also, as a quirk of breeding, the Californian bunny’s eyes are a striking pink color just like those of an albino rabbit.
Californian Rabbit Size
California Whites are large rabbits. In fact, this is one of the largest breeds.
A Californian rabbit’s weight can reach an average of between 7 and 12 pounds. However, bucks (boys) are generally slightly smaller than does (girls).
Californian Rabbit Facts
The Californian rabbit breed has been around for a while, like many well-known rabbit breeds. This breed got its start in the 20s. However, it was first officially recognized in 1939.
According to some sources, the California White is second in popularity only to New Zealand Whites.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association only recognizes the “standard” coloring of white with dark brown points. Surprisingly, the British Rabbit Council also recognizes other Californian rabbit colors. This includes whites with blue and lilac points.
Californian Rabbit Temperament
One of the reasons that Californian rabbits are popular as pets is their friendly, gentle nature. By and large, Californian bunnies enjoy careful handling and human interaction.
Generally, children should be supervised when playing with rabbits. Bunny skin is delicate and easily damaged by rough handling.
It’s important to remember that all bunnies are prey animals. Therefore, when handling your Californian rabbits, hold them correctly so that they feel safe and comfortable. You don’t want them to struggle or become distressed.
Do Californian Rabbits Bite?
Californians don’t have a high tendency to bite or nip, but it’s worth noting that any rabbit may do so if stressed or afraid.
For this reason, it’s important to handle your pet bunny in a way that keeps them feeling safe. Be gentle, and supervise children when petting or playing with the rabbit.
Taming Californian Rabbits
California Whites are fairly tame to begin with, with their easy going personality! Nonetheless, your actions as the owner can impact their comfort.
With a new bunny, whether a baby Californian or an adopted adult, speak softly. Additionally, try not to make sudden moves that might frighten them. Pet them gently and let them get used to you gradually.
These rabbits are intelligent, and with patience and time you can even teach your rabbits a few fun tricks!
Californian Rabbit Health
Californian rabbits were bred to be healthy and robust. However, no matter how pampered they are, all pets can get sick sometimes!
If you know what health problems are most likely to affect your Californian rabbits, you’ll be able to recognize them quickly and get your pets the correct veterinary treatment right away.
Here are a few common health conditions that can affect Californian rabbits.
As one of the larger, heavier breeds, Californians can develop sore hocks if they are kept in a cage that has a wire floor.
This problem is easily avoided by providing your pets with solid floored housing. Alternatively, place a washable mat underneath the bedding to shield their hocks and feet from the wire.
Just like people, rabbits can become obese if they eat too much and exercise too little. Californian rabbits can be especially susceptible to obesity.
As they were originally bred to provide meat, baby Californian rabbits grow rapidly. In addition, they tend to lay down plenty of “coverage,” which can easily lead to them becoming overweight.
Provide your pets with plenty of opportunity to exercise. Also, be sure not to overfeed them with treats!
Like all rabbits, Californian bunnies groom themselves constantly, especially when shedding. Rabbits are unable to vomit, so the fur they ingest while grooming forms dry hairballs in their intestines.
These hairballs can slow down the gut, causing constipation and other associated health conditions. To prevent wool block, groom your Californian rabbits at least once a week to remove loose hair.
In addition, groom them more frequently during their three-monthly shedding periods.
Finally, feed a diet high in hay and green veggies to keep things moving along and prevent blockages.
Large breeds such as Californians can find grooming themselves awkward, especially if they become overweight. This can leave your bunnies vulnerable to a nasty condition called fly strike (myiasis).
Fly strike is caused by the green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata). The flies are attracted to fur that has become soiled with urine and feces and the odor of the rabbit’s scent glands. The flies lay eggs around the rabbit’s rear, and these eggs hatch into larvae (maggots) within hours!
The larvae feed on the rabbit’s flesh, causing pain and resulting in toxic shock to your poor bunny. If you notice maggots around your Californian rabbit’s anus, seek veterinary attention right away.
Fly strike can be prevented by observing good hutch hygiene. Also, use a damp cloth to clean any soiled areas of fur that your bunnies can’t reach.
Ticks, Fleas And Worms
If you provide your Californian bunnies with an outside run where they can play on warm, sunny days, they may pick up ticks, fleas, or worms.
Always ask your vet for advice on what worm, tick and flea prevention products to use on your pets. Be sure to treat them regularly in accordance with your vet’s instructions.
You can prevent parasite problems by keeping your rabbits’ housing clean and providing them with good quality hay bought from a reputable supplier.
Be wary of collecting fresh grass for your rabbits that may be from areas where worm eggs are present. When your bunnies eat the grass, they ingest the worm eggs and infestation can result.
Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their lives. Provide your Californian bunny with plenty of hay and chew toys to help keep his teeth worn down naturally.
Take your bunny to the vet regularly for teeth and nail trims.
Myxomatosis is a potentially fatal disease of rabbits that is spread by fleas and mosquitoes and through contact with other infected rabbits. There is no cure for myxomatosis.
If you allow your Californian rabbits to play outside, make sure that myxomatosis is not active in your area. Check out the House Rabbit Society’s website for a list of areas in the US where myxomatosis is reported. If you live within or adjacent to one of the danger areas, keep your pet rabbits indoors until the outbreak has cleared.
Although UK residents can have their bunnies vaccinated against this disease, the vaccine is not yet available in the US and it cannot be legally imported.
Early signs of myxomatosis include discharge, crusting, and inflammation around the eyes, followed by blindness. Affected animals will often crouch miserably, seemingly unaware of their surroundings.
If one of your rabbits develops any of these symptoms, isolate him from his companions right away and seek veterinary advice.
Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
Viral hemorrhagic disease (VHD) is a highly contagious disease of rabbits that is caused by a calicivirus. VHD is usually fatal. Symptoms are usually very quick to appear and include:
- high fever
- poor appetite
- bleeding from the nose or rectum
- sudden death
It is not uncommon for rabbits to die within 48 hours of contracting the disease. Sometimes they may not show any symptoms at all.
There is a vaccine available in the UK to counter the danger of VHD. However, this vaccine is not yet legally available in the US.
Californian Rabbit Lifespan
Californian rabbits can live for between 5 and 10 years when kept as pets.
Be sure to keep your bunny in a large, well-maintained cage. Feed him a healthy diet full of fiber.
Allow your Californian bunny plenty of space so that he can exercise. He will be less prone to obesity-related health problems that could shorten his life.
Remember, a healthy, fit rabbit will usually live longer than one who is fat and idle!
Do Californian Rabbits Smell?
Rabbits are actually very clean animals. They can often be found grooming themselves, much like a cat.
Californian Rabbit Care
Make sure that your rabbit has a cage that is big enough for him to move around in comfortably, with plenty of play space. California Whites are big bunnies, so opt for a larger cage.
Fully clean the cage at least once a week to maintain the health of your rabbit and prevent any odor issues. It’s also a good idea to do spot-cleans every two days or so.
The Californian rabbit was originally bred to live in a warm climate. Consequently, they don’t thrive if kept in cooler temperatures.
Keep your Californian bunnies indoors or in sheltered, heated quarters to keep them cozy, especially in winter!
Keeping Californian Rabbits Together
All bunnies thrive on companionship. If deprived of the company of their own species, they become depressed and withdrawn.
Although Californian rabbits do get along with well-socialized guinea pigs, dogs and cats, they’re happiest in the company of their own species.
Males and females are usually more compatible than two bunnies of the same sex, but have them neutered immediately to avoid a population explosion!
In addition, female Californian rabbits run a high risk of developing uterine (womb) cancer. So, spaying the doe is a sensible move.
Caring For A Baby Californian Rabbit
Baby Californian bunnies are ready to leave their mother at eight weeks of age. If you’ve adopted a baby bunny, or kit, it should be at least eight weeks old.
Your new pet may be only recently weaned and used to pellets. Introduce other foods, like grass, greens, and carrots, gradually.
Keep an eye on how well they digest these new foods. If there are any issues, slow down on the new items.
If you decide to welcome a pair of Californian rabbits into your life, choose siblings from a litter. It is always advisable to buy a purebred Californian rabbit from a registered breeder.
Californian Rabbit Breeders
Responsible breeders are committed to maintaining recognized breed standards and raising animals that are healthy and well-socialized.
Additionally, if you live in the UK, look at Pets4Homes’ website. They advertise rabbits for adoption, sale, and stud.
Showing Your Californian Rabbit
California Whites are popular both as pets and as show animals.
The ARBA and other breed specialty sites, like the National Californian Rabbit Specialty Club, are excellent resources for ensuring that your rabbit meets the qualifying criteria for show.
Further, other important factors include the health of the rabbit and the pedigree. The ARBA lists rabbit shows that you can consider entering.
Rescuing A Californian Rabbit
Rabbits in general are often in need of adoption, as the circumstances of their owners fluctuate.
Though there are few breed-specific rescues for the Californian rabbit breed, rabbit rescues will provide further information.
If you like the California White, you may be drawn to the soft white fur of this particular bunny breed. Or maybe you like larger rabbits. Or maybe it’s something else; for instance, their friendly, easy going nature.
There are plenty of reasons to like this breed!
However, you may not be able to find one right away. So here are a few other bunny breeds that may interest you.
California Rabbit Products And Accessories
Getting ready to bring your bunny home, but not quite sure where to start? Here are a few necessities for your new pet!
Is A California Rabbit Right For Me?
Californian rabbits can live for up to 10 years, so bear this in mind when you decide to take them home as pets.
Also, they need annual veterinary checks, vaccinations (if you live in the UK), and regular worming and parasite treatments.
Additionally, you must be able to provide your Californian bunnies with spacious indoor or heated outdoor accommodation, as they do not tolerate cold. Californian rabbits need plenty of room for exercise in order to prevent them from becoming overweight.
Even though Californian rabbits have short hair, they still need grooming once a week. Particularly, they will require more frequent grooming when shedding.
If you’re ready to take on all of these needs, however, a California White can be an excellent pet for you!
Do You Have A Californian Rabbit?
Do you have a Californian rabbit living at home with you?
We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
References And Resources
- Californian Rabbit Specialty Club, Inc., Breeder Directory.
- Pets4Homes, Find Your Perfect Pet.
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Rabbit health and welfare.
- House Rabbit Society, Viral Hemorrhagic Disease.
- British Rabbit Council Breed Standards