The Alaska Rabbit is an outgoing but gentle commercial rabbit breed. It is a medium-sized breed, weighing up to 9 pounds, and can live with other rabbits as well as other animals and older children. Despite its name, the Alaska Rabbit was bred in Germany, in a bid to recreate the Alaskan Fox’s popular and plush fur.
The effort failed, and the Alaska Rabbit has an intense black coat with black guard hair, rather than the desired white guard hairs. Despite this, the breed became and remains popular for its beautiful looks and sweet temperament.
Quick Facts about the Alaska Rabbit
Energetic and Loving
Hay, pellets, vegetables
Minimum Hutch Size:
6’ x 2’ x 2ft’
Hutch, run, bedding, bowls, toys
Very friendly and easy-going
Alaska Rabbit Overview
Despite the name, the Alaska Rabbit does not come from Alaska. In fact, a German rabbit judge, Max Gotha, tried to recreate the style of pelt found on the Alaskan Fox: black fur with long white guard hair. Gotha combined the Champagne d’Argent, Dutch, Havana, and Himalayan rabbit breeds to try and achieve this. Despite his aim, the Alaska Rabbit developed a pure black pelt with short black guard hairs. Although this wasn’t what he wanted to create, Gotha recognized the beauty of the breed and kept it as it was, without trying to change the color or style of the pelt. The breed would go on to be used in the breeding of the Black Rex Rabbit
Such was the beauty of the Alaska breed that Gotha showed it at a rabbit show in the early 20th century. It quickly became a popular domestic breed and Gotha took it to Canada and the US. It was recognized as a breed in the 1970s.
Unfortunately, in the 1980s, the Black Havana Rabbit saw the Alaska Rabbit ousted from the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) registry. Breeders are attempting to help have it recognized by ARBA once again, and the Alaska is still recognized by other rabbit organizations, including the British Rabbit Council.
The reasons for the breed’s initial popularity remain. It still has a beautiful black coat and it is still a lively, friendly, and easy-going rabbit that will get along with its owners, their family, and other rabbits. It can even live with other animals.
How Much Do Alaska Rabbits Cost?
The fact that the Alaska Rabbit is no longer recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association means that they are not popular with breeders and exhibitors, despite their pure black coat. They do make good pets, though, and you should expect to pay between $20 and $50 for one.
You may find examples of the Alaska Rabbit in local shelters. Adoption costs vary but expect to pay between $10 and $50 here, too.
As well as the cost of buying or adopting the rabbit, you will have to pay for the initial hutch and setup. You will also need items like bowls, bedding, toys, and some food for the first week or two. The total cost of the setup will be at least $300: less if you already have any of the items required.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
The Alaska Rabbit is a friendly, outgoing, and sociable animal. It will get along with and can be kept with other rabbits, although you should only keep the same sex in the same hutch unless you are planning on breeding them. They enjoy spending time with their human owners, so you should not take on this breed if you don’t have the time to dedicate.
Appearance & Varieties
With a commercial body type, the Alaska Rabbit is a well-rounded breed, physically. Although it is only a medium-sized breed, the Alaska is a solid rabbit with a thickset body. It has shorter ears than other breeds, however, they should sit upright.
The most prominent feature of the Alaska Rabbit is the coat. The original breeders wanted to create a rabbit with a black coat and white undercoat. Although they ended up with a pure black breed, featuring black guard hairs and black over hairs, they decided to retain the design because of its popularity and beauty.
The breed should be black all over. Although it may have a few stray white hairs, there should not be a large collection of white hairs, so there should not be any white spots, stripes, or other white markings.
How to Take Care of Alaska Rabbits
The Alaska Rabbit can be kept indoors or outdoors. If you are keeping him outdoors, be sure to provide warmth and safety. If you’re keeping the rabbit indoors, be sure to provide a rabbit-proof environment in which he can safely live and thrive.
Whether indoors or outdoors, you will need to provide ample hutch space for your Alaskan Rabbit. Typically, this means providing a hutch that measures at least 6’ x 2’ x 2’. This gives the rabbit plenty of room to move, turn, and fully stretch out. If you can provide more room, then your pet rabbit will benefit
Inside The Hutch
Within the hutch, you need to provide a separate sleeping area. The whole hutch requires bedding, which is essentially the substrate that is placed on the floor. This protects your rabbit’s paws when he runs around and provides a soft and comfortable base, while also giving some space and some substrate to dig. The bedding, which is usually sawdust, should be around 6 inches deep. Spot clean to prevent having to fully replace it, and consider placing a litter tray down in areas that your rabbit toilets. Keep doing this and you will, eventually, train your rabbit to poop in the tray and to leave the bedding clean and tidy.
You will also need to provide a comfortable straw as a soft bed. The rabbit will usually rearrange whatever you provide to meet its needs, but you will have to provide plenty.
Offer a food bowl and a bowl or bottle for fresh water. A water bowl is preferred because drinking from a bowl more closely mimics the way that your rabbit would drink water in the wild.
Do Alaska Rabbits Get Along with Other Pets?
Rabbits are sociable animals that enjoy the company of other rabbits of the same breed, and this is true of the Alaska breed. Ensure that you separate different genders, however, or you could quickly become overrun with kits.
Rabbits are the natural prey of some hunting animals, which can include larger terriers. Even cats may be tempted to give chase, especially if your rabbit darts away quickly. As such, while it is possible to introduce an Alaska Rabbit to other pets, it should be done slowly and carefully to prevent any incidents.
What to Feed Your Alaska Rabbit
The Alaska Rabbit needs a diet that consists of 70% hay. This should be good quality hay and it will not only provide the fiber and calories that your rabbit needs, but will also help ensure good dental hygiene. The rest of the rabbit’s diet will be made up of pellets, which are also made from hay but also include additional vitamins and nutrients that are not found in the rest of a domestic rabbit’s diet. You can also feed some leafy green vegetables, along with the occasional treat.
Keeping Your Alaska Rabbit Healthy
The breed is not known for having any breed-specific illnesses or conditions, but you should protect it from common rabbit ailments. Vaccinate against VHD and myxomatosis and treat regularly for worms, fleas, and other parasites.
Monitor your rabbit’s dental health. A rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. If they do not naturally grind their teeth down, you will have to do it for them. Rabbits grind their teeth when gnawing on hay and leafy veggies.
Before breeding any rabbits, you need to ensure that you have the room and the capability to keep any kittens that are produced. There are already a lot of unwanted rabbits, and they do not fetch a lot of money so are unlikely to yield a profit. As such, and bearing in mind a rabbit can have a litter of up to 14 kittens, although the average litter size is 7. The gestation period is between 4 and 5 weeks, and rabbits can breed from a very young age.
Are Alaska Rabbits Suitable For You?
The Alaska Rabbit is a friendly, outgoing, and sociable breed. It has a beautiful black coat, is considered quite a chunky rabbit breed, and it will usually enjoy spending plenty of time with its human owner while also getting along with other rabbits and potentially even mixing with other animals in the house. While the breed might not be recognized by the ARBA anymore, it makes a very good pet and welcome addition to most homes.
Alaska Rabbit (Image Credit: Ailura, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)