The Rex rabbit breed is a fluffy bunny with a unique coat that feels like plush velvet. They are friendly, confident and popular pet rabbits. Rex bunnies have medium-sized upright ears, a square head and comes in two sizes: standard and mini. Today we’ll look at the breed traits and characteristics of the Rex rabbit, including their personality and temperament. We’ll help you find a healthy baby Rex Rabbit and how to care for this special bunny.
- Where does the Rex Rabbit come from?
- How big do Rex Rabbits get?
- Rex Rabbit appearance
- Temperament of the Rex Rabbit
- Rex Rabbit health and care
- How long do Rex Rabbits live?
- Caring for a Rex Rabbit
- Is a Rex Rabbit right for me?
Most of us can agree there is nothing quite as adorable as a bunny. They are small, soft, and undeniably cute! Maybe you love their long ears or their large feet, or perhaps you have an affinity for their white fluffy tails. Whatever the attraction is, it’s easy to see why rabbits have stolen the hearts of many small pet lovers across the world.
Rex Rabbit FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Rex Rabbit.
- Are Rex and Astrex rabbits the same breed?
- Do Rex Rabbits smell?
- Should I have more than one Rex Rabbit?
- Are Red Rabbits good with kids?
What is a Rex Rabbit?
The Rex Rabbit was previously known as the Castor Rex Rabbit. It is named after a genetic mutation that causes their unique fur. Castor was for their color, and Rex means “king” in Latin. Contrary to other rabbits, they lack the longer guard hairs of other rabbits. The remaining fur is short, thick and velvety to the touch.
The standard variety weights 7.5-10.5 lbs and make lovely pets. Do you want to know more about this unique companion?
Where Do Rex Rabbits Come From?
The Castor Rex Rabbit is believed to have originated in France in 1919, where a litter of wild gray rabbits was discovered to have a genetic mutation that caused this luxurious, short and soft fur. Soon after the discovery was made, the Rex Rabbit was deliberately bred to maintain this mutation and perfect its velvety coat. The fur of this fluffy bunny reminds of velvet because it’s thick and dense.
Originally farmed for their fur, the Rex Rabbit was formally introduced to the public at the Paris International Rabbit Show in 1924, where he quickly gained popularity amongst pet owners. Eventually, he found his way to the United States and has since become a rather popular companion animal.
Nowadays, most Rex Rabbits are bred for their meat because of their large size, while also having a prominent spot amongst pet owners and fanciers because of their distinct look. But why do rex Rabbits look like that? Here’s everything you need to know about the unique Rex mutation.
Rex Rabbit Genetics
The so-called ”Rex mutation” is a genetic mutation occurring in rabbits and other mammals. The mutation affects a variety of genes (called Rex genes) causing changes in keratin production. In turn, this changes the hair in affected animals.
Rex genes are thought to be recessive. This means that when a Rex animal is crossed with a non-rex one, the subsequent litter won’t have Rex hair. To have a fully rex litter, two rex rabbits should be crossed.
In rabbits, the Rex mutation presents two distinct characteristics. First, the hair grows outwards instead of laying down. Second, the guard hairs (usually long and thick) are the same length and thickness of the undercoat, which is also shortened. There are both standard and mini rex rabbits.
Astrex vs Rex Rabbits
Short answer: no. A now-extinct breed of British Rex, the Astrex, had consistently curly hair throughout his life. The hair of the Astrex was also shorter than normal short-haired bunnies and lacked the guard hairs of other rabbits. Because of this, it was thought that the Astrex was a kind of Rex mutation.
Researchers in the early 1930s found that the medulla of the guard hairs among this breed was unevenly developed, causing the distinct curl in the Astrex.
Although the “true” Astrex has been declared as extinct by the British Rabbit Council, fanciers are breeding Astrex-coated bunnies. These bunnies show fluffy, curly hair as adults and the trait can be present in different rabbit breeds.
Rex rabbits can have astrex-type coats as well, and there are also mini Rex Rabbits with the mutation.
The Astrex trait is different from the Rex gene because when crossing a true Rex with a true Astrex, the resulting litter presents Rex, Astrex and normal bunnies. Now that you know more about the genetics that make the Rex unique, let’s learn about what it looks like!
Rex Rabbit Appearance
The Rex Rabbit fur is one of its most unique characteristics. The distinct hair of the Rex is due to their lack of the longer guard hairs that most other common short-haired rabbits have.
So why does the Rex Rabbit’s fur look the way it does? Well, each of the Rex Rabbit’s individual hairs grows short and even, resulting in this gloriously velvety look and feel.
This fluffy bunny boasts a broad head with medium-sized upright ears and a fairly round body.
Both the Standard and Mini rex rabbit come in çdifferent colors, including the following.
- Black Otter Rex rabbits
Rex Rabbit Grooming
Rabbits are not hypoallergenic and do shed, so prospective owners who suffer allergies should keep this in mind.
As far as grooming goes, these are typically clean animals and will not require much grooming at all. In fact, too much brushing of their plush coat could cause damage to their fur. If the Rex Rabbit does need to be cleaned, a gentle scrub with a warm, damp cloth should do the trick.
How Big Do Rex Rabbits Get?
There are actually two varieties of the Rex Rabbit: standard and mini. The Standard Rex weighs 6 to 12 pounds, while the Mini stands at 3 to 5 pounds.
There is no giant Rex bunny. The Standard Rex rabbit size is that of a relatively large bunny with a round body type, weighing in at 7.5-12.5 lbs. There’s a Mini Rex Rabbit, too, a dwarf Rex. These bunnies are small and compact, weighing 3 to 5 pounds. Despite of its size, any bunny needs a minimum of 60 square feet to roam around to be happy and healthy.
Red Rabbits were born out of a mutation from the rex gene. The term “rex rabbit” refers informally to around nine breeds of domestic bunnies, although only one is the true Rex Rabbit.
As of 2019, according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Rex Rabbit fur is an important breeding purpose for Rexes, although most of them bred in the US are used for meat.
Rex Rabbit Temperament
This bunny is calm, playful, and incredibly maternal. They enjoy being around other rabbits and in fact, tends to mother them quite incessantly.
Seeing as they are so social, the Rex Rabbit will thoroughly enjoy the company of other animals, most preferably ones they are raised with. They will also enjoy the companionship of other human counterparts, entertaining them with their antics and zest for life.
The Rex bunny can be incredibly spirited and therefore makes a very amusing pet. This is one of the many reasons they do well with children. They especially loves to play and hop!
Do Rex Rabbits bite?
In general, Rex bunnies are calm animals. When well-loved and taken care of, they shouldn’t bite hard enough to draw blood. Nevertheless, rabbits do nip as part of their communication. Some bunnies nip to get your attention when they want food or affection. If this is the case, let them know they are hurting you by squealing loudly when they do it. They will try to nip softly or even stop doing it.
Of course, rabbits are still prey animals. Most bunnies don’t particularly like being held up or stay on someone’s lap because they don’t feel safe. If you force them to do it, some might nip and bite to let you know they don’t like it.
Build trust with your pet rabbit and respect their wishes. Adjust your expectations accordingly and allow your bunny to feel comfortable. Soon enough they’ll come to you for affection!
Training your Rex Rabbit
As a pet, you can litter train your Rex bunny. This will keep your home tidy and clean.
You can also train your bunny to walk on a leash: they will have so much fun outside! Here’s our handy guide to help your rabbit walk on a leash.
While not the easiest of pets to train, the Rex Rabbit is very intelligent and can make a lovely home pet that does not require an enclosure at all.
Still, prepare for your home to be one huge litter box until they are trained, as they just don’t’t know any better! Your bunny will need consistency with training, patience and a loving hand.
The litter box should be of medium size, filled first with litter and then with hay. You can begin the process of litter training by watching when your Rex Rabbit uses the bathroom, then placing her droppings in the box and putting her in the box after. They will then respond to verbal praise and gentle petting.
Rex Rabbit Health
These bunnies are quite healthy pets. Nevertheless, there are some rabbit-specific conditions that you should be aware of. This is especially important if you’re a first-time bunny owner.
The Rex Rabbit is generally a healthy bunny breed, but they can be prone to pododermatitis, also commonly known as sore hock, or bumblefoot. This is a bacterial infection of the skin that typically affects the part of the bunny’s legs that rest on the ground.
Among bunnies, this is usually a consequence of human neglect. Excessive exposure to harsh, wet or moist surfaces will soften the pad of the foot, exposing your rabbit to having sores on their feet.
If left untreated, sore hocks can worsen and cause serious pain and health issues like joint inflammation, and even infection of the bone marrow.
Although there are home remedies available, we always recommend taking your Rex Rabbit to a veterinarian who can administer the correct treatment and ensure the infection doesn’t worsen.
All rabbits, including the Rex, are prone to gastrointestinal tract stasis, a potentially serious condition that is unfortunately common. If your bunny stops eating, even for part of a day, and is not defecating, you must see a vet immediately.
Rex Rabbit Teeth
As with all rabbits, Rexes can also be prone to a number of dental issues. One such issue is a molar and premolar malocclusion and elongation. This issue is more common in domesticated rabbits who live longer than wild rabbits and therefore have a longer period for their teeth to grow
Believe it or not, rabbit teeth never stop growing! However, most rabbits constantly chew, and this activity continuously wears their teeth down, keeping them at a healthy length.
Unfortunately, sometimes a rabbit’s teeth will not be worn down enough and its teeth may grow into its jaw and face. When this happens, it can provoke severe pain and infection, causing loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, and sickness.
Keep an eye out for the above symptoms in your Rex Rabbit, while also checking your bunny’s mouth weekly. If you see any sign of this dental issue, take your Rex Rabbit to the vet immediately.
Other Health Conditions
General rabbit diseases that Rexes can get also include myxomatosis, a viral disease which quickly becomes fatal, and Viral Hemorrhagic Disease, another contagious and quick-acting condition that often results in death.
Rabbits may also be prone to abscesses, bacterial infections, and parasites. They can also have ear infections, so their ears should be cleaned weekly. Of course, we always recommend spaying or neutering your Rex Rabbit when they are around 4-6 months old.
This is actually beneficial to their health and can lead to a longer lifespan. Female rabbits especially can be vulnerable to uterine cancer when not spayed. Overall, when a Rex bunny is healthy, they will live a long life.
How Long Do Rex Rabbits Live?
When spayed or neutered, both the Mini and the Standard Rex Rabbit have a lifespan of 7-10 years. By keeping your bunny healthy and happy, you’ll be able to enjoy their antics for nearly a decade!
Do Rex Rabbits Smell?
Rabbits are very clean creatures. Their fur shouldn’t smell and they usually spend their days grooming themselves.
They also have two kinds of poop: the dry type doesn’t smell, and the softer one you shouldn’t see because they eat it right away!
Nevertheless, their urine has a very strong odor. Because of it, most people wanting to have bunnies as house pets train them to use the litter.
Just like a cat would, your Rex will hop onto the litter, do its business and get out. If you clean the litter every few days with a deep cleaning once in a while, you won’t find any funny odors. By taking good care of your bunny you’re ensuring a clean, odorless home!
Caring for a Rex Rabbit
Caring for a rabbit is very different than caring for other domestic animals. On the other hand, the Rex rabbit has very particular features that imply specific care.
Because Rexes are lacking the outermost guard hairs, they can be more exposed to the elements. You need to keep your rabbit in a well-regulated environment that is not too hot or too cold.
Choosing where to keep your Pet Rabbit
Although there are still not very many options for rabbit enclosures available, many owners get creative. Aside from the typical rabbit enclosure, some owners choose to build their own outdoors, while others opt to purchase dog crates and modify them so they are more bunny-friendly.
There are also many rabbit owners who choose to let their bunny pets roam the house freely – after adequate training and bunny-proofing, of course!
Rabbits love to chew, and it’s normal for them. But you’ll have to protect electrical cords and other tempting items from their ever-growing teeth if you let them roam.
Rex Rabbit Enclosures
If you prefer to have an enclosure for your Rex Rabbit, the most important elements needed are wire bottoms and a plastic base. The wire bottoms should be layered with rabbit-friendly bedding so as to be comfortable and safe for your bunny.
The bedding should be cleaned each day, spot-checking to ensure soiled areas are removed. The bedding should be replaced, and the plastic base should be removed and cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.
For those crafty enough to build an outdoor enclosure for your rabbit, be sure to remember that this breed of bunny is missing those longer, protective guard hairs, and may be more susceptible to the elements. Take care to build an enclosure that has adequate shelter and will not be too hot or too cold for your Rex Rabbit.
Always be wary of predators whenever building an outdoor enclosure for your rabbit. Coyotes, felines, and raccoons make formidable predators that can see your adorable rabbit friend as a tasty meal.
Feeding a Rex Rabbit
Your Rex Rabbit should have a diet of high-fiber pellets (5%) and hay (90%) complemented with fresh produce, as well as fresh water daily. We recommend a high-quality rabbit food as specified by your veterinarian to ensure the ultimate health of your Rex Rabbit.
Adult rabbits will typically consume about ¼ cup of pellets every day per every 5 pounds of weight.
Rex Rabbits also love to indulge in fresh fruits like mango, pears, peaches, and apple slices. Never give your bunny a whole apple, as apple seeds are toxic to them.
Your rabbit will also enjoy veggies like carrots, lettuce, and celery.
Always make sure you research what types of foods and treats are best for your rabbit and how often you can feed them these treats, as there is a long list of things (like apple cores) that can harm them.
Should I have more than one Rex Rabbit?
These bunnies are quite social and love to be around other rabbits. In fact, a lonely bunny can easily get depressed and fall ill. Nevertheless, bunny introductions can be a tricky matter. Inform yourself at your local rescue center if you’re new to rabbit ownership.
How to bond a Rex Rabbit
The process of introducing two rabbits is called bonding. The easiest way to bond rabbits is by bringing two babies home at the same time. These will usually become friends on their own.
When one or both rabbits are grown, it’s important to have them neutered or spayed before introducing them. Because bunnies are very territorial, by taking hormones out of the equation you’ll have higher chances of succeeding.
As adults, male-female bonding is easier than same-sex bonding. It is also easier to bring a new female to your existing male rabbit than the other way around. The important thing to keep in mind when bonding is avoiding big fights. Rabbits don’t trust nor forget easily, so our goal should be that they associate the new bunny with positive experiences.
Introduce your bunnies in neutral territory like a room your rabbit has never been in, a friend’s home, the seat of a car, the bathtub, a new backyard, etc. Bonding will be a long process and you should be prepared to have patience and be slow. Work with them for at least 20 minutes per day and keep them apart when you’re not home.
Once they have grown accustomed to one another and there are no active fights when they are together, let them roam free while you’re at home. Only when you can be sure there are no fights whatsoever when you’re present is that you can try and leave them alone for small periods of time.
Use a water bottle to break up any fights and finally, relax! Once you have bonded two bunnies, they will be friends for life!
Caring for a Baby Rex Rabbit
Any special care needs including feeding/diet, grooming, housing/cages.
Baby Rex Rabbits are especially susceptible to injury, as they squirm more than adult Rex Rabbits when held. Therefore, it is best to have children sit while holding them to reduce the chances of high falls that could severely injure or kill the rabbit.
Showing your Rex Rabbit
Rex Rabbits can be amazing show bunnies, and the breed has taken the Best in Show Award several times in many rabbit show competitions!
If you want to show your bunny, keep in mind the breed standard when choosing the perfect candidate.
It might be a good option to get a baby bunny from a trustworthy, reputable breeder that would offer advice and guidance.
In many shows, rabbits are classified in sections. The British Rabbit Council has four: Lop, Fancy, Fur and Rex. Your Rex Rabbit would, of course, compete in the Rex section.
Rescuing a Rex Rabbit
Adopting a bunny can be a great option. For starters, it’s very likely your fluffy Rex will already be spayed and neutered, saving you money and ensuring they have a longer life.
On the other hand, it also provides you with a strong support network should any problem or doubt arise. This is especially useful as a first-time bunny owner and could save you lots of trouble.
If you like this fluffy you may be looking for a pet that is small, sociable and full of energy. Here are other breeds that might also have those traits:
Comparing the Rex Rabbit with other pets
Are you unsure about having a pet rabbit?
Our handy comparison guide on Guinea Pig vs Rabbits can help you make up your mind.
Rex Rabbit Products and Accessories
Ensure your bunny is happy and healthy with our roundup of products:
Are Rex Rabbits good with kids?
Although they do make wonderful family companions and are a favorite choice for parents looking to introduce their children to first-time pets, they are fragile and can injure easily.
Rabbits should do well with older, more gentle children, but they should be supervised around younger children and children who are less careful.
Keeping the above information in mind, the Rex Rabbit is an intelligent and affectionate pet that is a joy to play with and care for.
Is a Rex Rabbit Right for me?
By all accounts, the Rex Rabbit makes a fabulous companion pet for singles, seniors, and families with older children and other pets.
Even though this bunny does require some weekly maintenance as far as cleaning their enclosure goes, this is an all-around easy pet to care for. They require little to no grooming and have very few health issues.
They can be easy, fun companions and will make great, long-lived family pets with some care. This bunny is incredibly adaptable and does well both indoors and in outdoor cages, so apartment living is no problem.
Do you have a Rex Rabbit?
Do you have a Rex living at home with you? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below.
Find Out More
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- Isbell, C. and Pavia, A. (2003). “Rex” in Rabbits for Dummies. Wiley Pub.: New York.
- Mancinelli, E. (2015). Pododermatitis in rabbits: An under-recognized problem. Vet Times.
- Harcourt-Brown, F. (2009). Dental disease in pet rabbits 3. Jaw abscesses. In Practice, 31.
- Harkness, J. E. et al (2010). Harkness and Wagner’s Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, Fifth Edition. Wiley-Blackwell: Ames, IA.
- Snooke, T.S. et al. (2013) Skin diseases in pet rabbits: A retrospective study of 334 cases seen at the University of California at Davis, USA (1984-2004). Veterinary Dermatology, 24(6).
- Castle, W. E., & Nachtsheim, H. (1933). Linkage Interrelations of Three Genes for Rex (Short) Coat in the Rabbit. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 19(12), 1006–1011. doi:10.1073/pnas.19.12.1006.
- Searle, A. G., & Jude, A. C. (1956). The ‘rex’ type op goat in the domestic cat. Journal of Genetics, 54(3), 506-512.