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American Sable Rabbit

Nicole Cosgrove

If rabbits turn your head, find yourself an American Sable. The handsome American Sable rabbit first came along in the 20th century, when breeders emphasized breeding Chinchilla colored rabbits. This rabbit breed is an off-shoot from the breeding of purebred Chinchilla rabbit.

The American Sable is a great companion for you and your family, and you can also use its high-powered free manure to enrich your vegetable garden’s soil. But before you settle for this breed, it is vital to understand that these animals require a commitment.

So, choosing it and hoping for the best is not enough. Instead, it would help if you had deeper insights into its rich history, characteristics, and personality to decide about adopting it.

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Quick Facts About American Sable Rabbit Breed

Species Name: Oryctolagus Cuniculus Domesticus
Family: Leporidae
Care Level: Intermediate, requires attention
Temperature: Prefers a temperate climate
Temperament: Gentle, docile, sweet, playful
Color Form: Slightly faded Sable, bright Siamese sable
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Size: Medium, 5-8 lbs.
Diet: Hay, pellets, fresh veggies, plenty of water
Minimum Tank Size: 21 by 36 inches for breeds less than 8 lbs, 30 to 36 inches for large rabbits
Tank Set-Up: Outdoors or Indoors
Compatibility: American Chinchilla and Silver Marten Rabbits

American Sable Rabbit Overview

Otto Brock from San Gabriel, California, developed this species in 1924, producing a soft Sable rabbit in a sepia tone. The rabbit had an entirely different color from the Chinchilla breed, although its body shape remained similar.

Although its coat coloration resembles a Chinchilla, it is not related to and cannot interbreed with the Chinchillas. These rabbits’ popularity grew tremendously that the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) accepted it in 1929 before officially documenting it in 1931.

Unfortunately, its popularity declined shortly afterward, and by 1981, only one American Sable rabbit appeared at the American Rabbit Breeder’s Association Convention.  Luckily, it made a major comeback a year later when the dedicated Al Roerdanz from Ohio championed its revival and fostered its continuation to date.

Today, this rare rabbit is not among the endangered rabbit breed and is quite useful for the commercial rabbit trade thanks to its fast growth and excellent quality meat. It is also a common sight in rabbit shows and exhibitions, thanks to its exquisite features.

Apart from being a renowned commercial rabbit, it is a pet and friend to the elderly, couples, individuals, and families with children. Ohio remains to be the American Sable’s stronghold region today.

How Much Do American Sable Rabbit Breed Cost?

This rabbit’s ownership price is affordable considering they are endeared both commercially and as pets. The average cost for one rabbit can range from $75-$150, although you may end up spending more for a show-worthy or purebred Sable.

The cost of food, supplies, grooming, and healthcare can also make it a generally costly breed. For instance, quality rabbit foods can be pricey, and it may be hard to find a rabbit vet.

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Typical Behavior and Temperament

The American Sable rabbit species is a friendly and affectionate rabbit that lights up most homes. It is also an energetic rabbit that loves running, whether indoors or outdoors.

It enjoys its parent’s attention and has a docile temperament that its owners can easily handle. Although these rabbits are so active that they may not give you a chance to get hold of them, petting on their backs and between their ears is a way to melt their tiny hearts.

They thrive under human companionship and enjoy having stimulating and noisy toys to play with. However, these pets spend most of their daytime sleeping and are most active at sunrise and sunsets.

Appearance and Varieties

Appearance

These rabbit breeds are unmistakable thanks to their unique coat colors similar to that of a Siamese cat and the close body resemblance to Chinchilla rabbits. They are commonly used for exhibitions due to their spectacular, beautiful, and commercial physique.

An American Sable rabbit is of medium size and can be more compact than other rabbit breeds. Its face, ears, feet, back, and tail holds may hold bits of brown or dark sepia colors.

Its mid-sized body is well rounded and well-muscled, with the back’s top line forming a smooth continuous curve from the neck to the tail. Its head is round with dark eyes and small, pointy ears with no pink coloring like most rabbits. Typically, they weigh 8-10 pounds, with the female does weigh more than the bucks at 8-10 pounds, and the bucks weighing 7-9 pounds.

Coat

This rabbit is short-haired and has a silky soft rollback fur resting on a fine, soft, and thick undercoat. The coat is usually light when the rabbit is young and darkens with age. Because of the coat’s density, the American Sable rabbits may take longer than average to shed their fur and requires more grooming.

Color

Ideally, this breed’s coat has different colorations in different parts and comes in two colors-a slightly shaded Sable and a bright Siamese Sable. The head, feet, back, face, the tail’s top part, and the ears have a ‘black-ish’ sepia color, whereas the rest of the body has a lighter tan, just like the Siamese cat. Its eyes are dark and bold with a deep ruby red coloring, especially when they reflect light.

Interestingly, this rabbit carries an albino gene – which is why it has the red eye-glow and why some rabbits can have white coloration. However, as the rabbit breeding progressed, some rabbits started exhibiting a Tan (marten) pattern Sable coloration. But instead of labeling it as another American Sable’s variety, the stakeholders identified this coloring as a Silver Marten rabbit breed’s new variety.

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How to Take Care of American Sable Rabbit

Unfortunately, most owners adopt rabbits without researching how to care for them. For this reason, these bunnies end up with severe health issues that are preventable otherwise. Here’s what you should know before committing to bringing an American Sable rabbit breed home.

Cage/ Enclosure

The good thing is that these rabbits are versatile, and you can either keep them indoors or outdoors. However, most parents prefer keeping them outdoors because of playfulness, as they appreciate larger spaces more.

There’s no problem with keeping it indoors, too, as they get on well with their owners. Only that ensure you must provide them lots of play outside their hutch.

Their hutch should be large enough to allow them hope and stand on their hind legs without hurting their heads. Ensure that the enclosure is at least four times its size, 24 inches by 36 inches for rabbits less than 8 pounds, or 30 inches by 36 inches for larger Sable rabbits.

Ideally, you can also build a two-roomed or a storied cage with ramps for additional freedom and hiding. Rabbit-proof the hutch and cover all the escape routes.

Bedding

A rabbit’s bedding substrate should be warm, comfortable and should guarantee them safety. Unfortunately, these animals eat their bedding, and it would be best to offer them safe materials.

The best bedding for a rabbit’s hutch is dry pellets, hay, and shredded paper. The reason is, these materials are digestible and non-toxic in case the rabbit chews it.

They are also good moisture absorbers and help control odor. Avoid using hard or wire floors as they can cause sores on their hind feet. Instead, use rabbit-friendly rot-resistant wood.

But then, there’s more to bedding than what they are made of. Ensure you change weekly, spot-clean it daily, and keep it dry at all times.

Temperature

It would be best to cover three out of the four sides of your pet’s enclosure to protect it from extreme temperature fluctuations, snow and allow good air circulation. The most comfortable temperature ranges for your rabbit’s habitats are around 58-72 degrees Fahreheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius).

Lighting

Although the American Sable rabbit breeds sleep during the day and only stay awake from the evening, they don’t necessarily require darkness to fall asleep. Therefore, they must enjoy a balance of darkness and natural light during their schedules. An hour of sunshine is enough for the rabbit’s vitamin D provision.

Do American Sable Rabbit Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

An American Sable rabbit revels in another rabbit’s company, especially of the same breed. However, it is a social rabbit breed and may blend in nicely with homeowners and other pets.

Since they are playful, these rabbits thrive alongside other equally-energetic pets such as cats and calm dogs. However, rabbits and dogs do not usually get along well, as dogs can bully the rabbits.

On the other hand, rabbits are pre animals and naturally fear dogs. But you can train your hound on how to handle small animals like the rabbit to help them co-exist.

Ensure that you monitor their relationship and don’t force them to get along. In case they fail to be friends, it would be best to keep them separately to protect the rabbit.

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What to Feed Your American Sable Rabbit

The golden rule of thumb about an American Sable rabbit’s diet is that the amount of food you give it should depend on their size, age, and activity level. Ensure that your rabbit’s daily meal consists of pellets, fresh veggies, and a portion of hay that’s as big as its size. It is vital that your rabbit’s diet contains 70% hay.

Dry hay is a diet essential since it keeps your Sable’s digestive tract healthy and helps wear down their teeth to help curb dental complications. No doubt, pellet feeds are costly, and most parents might opt to omit them from the menu. However, you can offer them high-quality pellet supplements to meet the balanced-diet requirement and provide extra minerals and vitamins.

The diet should consist of 1/4 cup of fibrous pellets for every 5 pounds of rabbit weight, and plenty of water. It would be best to stay clear of lettuce because it’s full of water with little fiber-count to call it a good meal. Grass from your yard is equally harmful because the pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizer in it can intoxicate a bunny.

Keeping Your American Sable Rabbit Healthy

All rabbits are at risk of developing overgrown gnashers, including the American Sable rabbit breed. Sadly, overgrown teeth can extend to its face and dig deeper into its jaws, making it unbearable for your pet.

The good thing is that you can prevent it by helping your pet shed the teeth gradually. You can provide a diet with the correct proportion of hay to slowly grind the teeth down.

Also, be prompt to check your pet’s teeth and consult with a vet if the situation is beyond you. Apart from the teeth, check your rabbit’s ears and fur for ear mites, fleas, and ticks, especially if it’s an outdoor pet.

Improve your pet’s bedding, provide softer materials if you notice sore hocks, and reach out to the vet in case of respiratory infections or any other peculiar behavior your bunny may exhibit. This rabbit breed requires more maintenance and extensive grooming because of its thick and dense undercoat and fur that stinks sometimes.

You can groom it weekly—if it’s not in the shedding season—and almost thrice a week, or more during the shedding season. These bunnies shed excessively during the shedding season, especially if they are indoor pets.

Breeding

Female rabbits reach sexual maturity at the age of six, while the male does so at four. You should allow mating by placing the rabbits together. However, it would be best to bring the female to the male to prevent the male’s environmental stress and distraction that may inhibit the mating success.

For your information, mating or breeding may not occur on the first exposure. The doe and the buck may choose to play instead.

However, the rabbits might be ready to mate if you see the buck sniffing at the doe. Some signs of a doe on heat include restlessness, swollen vulva, and chin-rubbing.

When mating, the buck thrusts violently at the doe and throws himself off her after mating. You can allow re-mating to boost the litter size and increase the breeding chances by exposing them several times.

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Are American Sable Rabbits Suitable for You?

Although the American Sable rabbit breeds are not popular, they are worthy pets if you love their coloration, meat, cuddly luxurious coat, or if you plan to utilize the fur. These useful rabbits appreciate their owner’s attention and companionship. They can live happily in any home, with or without lots of backyard space, as long as you shower them with attention and allow them exercise.

Although it’s a wholesome breed, the American Sable breed tends to be a little harder to train than other household pets. But that doesn’t mean you can’t-you can potty train it and teach it to respond by its name as long as you are patient. The most exciting thing is that you can keep them around for long, from 5 to 8 years, as long as you give them a proper diet, medical attention, and your affection.


Featured Image: Sonofsammie at English Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.