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Home > Breeds > San Juan Rabbit: Facts, Pictures, Lifespan & Behavior

San Juan Rabbit: Facts, Pictures, Lifespan & Behavior

san juan rabbit in the fields

The San Juan rabbit has a “wild” look and is considered a rare rabbit breed due to the few breeders there are that breed them. They hail from the island of San Juan that lies off the coast of Washington State. They became an established breed in 1895 due to an abundance of resources and few predators. Read on to learn more about these rare rabbits.

Breed Overview

Size:

Miniature

Weight:

3 – 6 pounds

Lifespan:

Roughly 1 year in the wild; up to 5 years in captivity

Similar Breeds:

Cottontail rabbit, Belgian Hares, Flemish Giants, New Zealand rabbits

Suitable for:

Unsuitable as pets

Temperament:

Territorial, suspicious, alert

These rabbits are considered more wild rabbits than domesticated, and if you see someone who owns one, odds are it is kept in an outside hutch due to its natural bunny behaviors. These rabbits are descendants of various wild European rabbit species that were bred by early settlers in the 1880s to mimic the cottontail rabbit. Intelligent yet suspicious of humans, these rabbits do best residing outdoors in a hutch.

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San Juan Rabbit Breed Characteristics

Energy:
Trainability:
Health:
Lifespan:
Sociability:

Temperament & Intelligence of the San Juan Rabbit

These rabbits are intelligent but are wary of humans. They are territorial, suspicious, and always on alert. Some breeders have chosen to domesticate these rabbits, but if you decide to own one, they do best living outdoors in a hutch with plenty of room to roam.

Can San Juan Rabbit Be Kept as Pets?

At one time, these rabbits were used in training hunting dogs. The first settlers who bred these rabbits wanted them to have a wild rabbit look for this purpose. These rabbits do not make good pets if you’re looking for a domesticated rabbit, and they are aloof and suspicious of humans. You may never be able to handle them like you would a domesticated rabbit, so keep this in mind.

San Juan Rabbit
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Does This Rabbit Get Along With Other Animals?

Not particularly. Given they are considered “wild”, they will not be keen on sharing space with other pets. If you happen to own one of these rabbits, you’ll need to keep them in an outside hutch that is protected from other pets and animals.

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Things to Know About San Juan Rabbits

Food & Diet Requirements 🥕

These rabbits do well on commercial rabbit pellets, and you should feed each rabbit ½ cup each day and gradually increase to 1 cup each day when your rabbit reaches adulthood. They also enjoy a variety of fresh produce, such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, apples, and strawberries. They also enjoy alfalfa, timothy, and red clover hay. Ensure you keep fresh water for your rabbit or rabbits at all times.

Habitat 🏠

It’s important to house your San Juan rabbit in a hutch outdoors. The rabbit run doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be big enough for your rabbit to run and get exercise. If possible, build tunnels to rabbit cages and connect the two. Ensure the hutch is waterproof, secure, and safe from predators, and place the hutch or run in a shady area.

Exercise & Sleeping Needs 🐇

As with any pet, your San Juan rabbit needs exercise. As mentioned, an outdoor hutch should be constructed where your rabbit has plenty of room to run and roam, preferably in a shady area to keep your San Juan rabbit from overheating.

Lifespan and Health Conditions 🏥

San Juan rabbits typically live up to 1 year in the wild but can live up to 5 years in captivity with proper care. These rabbits are susceptible to a few health issues:

Minor Conditions:
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Hairballs
  • Respiratory infections
  • Dental Disease
Serious Conditions:
  • Myxomatosis: A severe disease seen in European rabbits that causes blindness, skin tumors, fatigue, and fever. Rabbits die within 14 days of contracting the disease. It spreads through fleas and mosquitos that are infected by biting an animal with the disease.
  • Hemorrhagic Disease: This disease affects rabbits 8 weeks of age and older, and they can die within 12 to 36 hours of contracting the disease, which causes fatigue and fever.
  • Uterine tumors 

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Male vs. Female

San Juan rabbits are territorial; however, males are much more territorial than females. If you have more than one male, ensure you house them separately, as they will likely fight and cause serious injuries to one another.


3 Little-Known Facts About San Juan Rabbits

1. They Are Small

These rabbits are not as big as they seem in photos; San Juan rabbits are considered a mini-sized breed, only weighing 3 to 6 pounds.


2. They Are Not Suited for First-Time Owners

If you’re a first-time owner in the market for a rabbit, you should look at a different rabbit breed other than the San Juan rabbit. Given their territorial nature and suspicious personalities, they are better suited for the more experienced rabbit owner. There are plenty of rabbit species that are more suitable for first-time rabbit owners, such as New Zealand rabbits.


3. They Are Shy

San Juan rabbits are always on the lookout for predators, and they even will view you as a predator at first until they realize you are not a threat. This process takes time, and you must summon up the patience to get your San Juan rabbit acclimated to your presence.

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Final Thoughts

San Juan rabbits are a rare species of pet rabbit that is more known for being wild rabbits rather than domesticated. There are a few breeders in the state if you want to take on being an owner of one of these rabbits, but they may be hard to come by. If you happen to find a breeder, ensure they are reputable.

Keep in mind that training these rabbits is a lengthy process, but over time, these rabbits can learn to trust you. In reality, they are better suited to life in the wild.

Related Reads:


Featured Image Credit: Patricia Thomas, Shutterstock

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