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Tan Rabbit: Facts, Lifespan, Behavior & Care (with Pictures)

tan rabbit

The Tan rabbit is a fancy rabbit breed, which means that it is popular for showing and exhibitions as well as being a pet. This old breed has been around since 1880 when domestic rabbits were bred with wild rabbits and breeders then worked to refine the tan markings.

Although it has been recognized in the US since the 1960s, the Tan has only really begun to gain popularity in recent years. They can be kept as indoor or outdoor pets and are generally considered to be good family animals that are intelligent and energetic.


Quick Facts about Tan Rabbits

Species Name: Oryctolagus Cuniculus
Care Level: Medium
Temperament: Sweet, energetic, playful
Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
Size: Small
Diet: Hay, fruit, veg, herbs
Minimum Cage Size: 12 square feet
Cage Set-Up: Cage, bottle, bowl, bedding, toys
Compatibility: Prefer to live in groups

Tan Rabbit Overview

The Tan rabbit is a fancy breed. He is kept as a show rabbit, but he does also make an excellent pet rabbit. Despite his recent popularity, the Tan has actually been an accepted standard in the USA since the 1960s.

The Tan rabbit was first discovered at the end of the 19th century. A colony of wild rabbits bred with domestic rabbits. The predecessor to what is now recognized as the Tan rabbit was further refined by breeders of the time. By the 1920s, recognized colors included black, blue, and lilac, according to British breeders.

tan rabbit with grass on wooden background
Image credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock

Introduced to the US shortly after, a specialty breeders’ club was established in 1936 but it failed to take hold and eventually lost recognition. The American Tan Rabbit Specialty Club was formed in 1960, and this club continues today, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the breed gained in popularity. A Tan won the American Rabbit Breeders’ Association Convention in 2003 Best in Show, and this prestigious award confirmed its position as a popular fancy breed.

Although the breed is not considered cuddly, they are rarely mean and they mix well with human owners. Their popularity as a pet breed has coincided with their rise in the exhibition world. They have also become popular for rabbit agility and rabbit sports like hopping because they are intelligent creatures.

How Much Do Tan Rabbits Cost?

The popularity of the breed, and their success in American Rabbit Breeders Association shows, means that their stock has increased a little. However, as a pet rabbit, they are inexpensive. Expect to pay between $30 and $75 for a pet Tan.

If you are looking to show the rabbit, and want a good example with excellent breeding, you can expect to pay $200 up to $400 for the very best examples.

You can also adopt a rescue rabbit from a local shelter or pound. Costs vary but are usually around $10.

Once you have purchased the rabbit, you will need the setup to go with him. An outdoor hutch will cost up to around $200 while an indoor cage can cost $75. Expect to pay another $30 or so for bowls, bottles, bedding, and toys, and approximately $20 per month in food and other costs.


Typical Behavior & Temperament

Considered excellent pets, Tan rabbits are friendly, but they are not usually considered affectionate. They will happily tolerate humans, and most will enjoy the time they spend with them, but they won’t enjoy being stroked and loved for too long. There are, of course, exceptions. As well as being friendly, the Tan is also a curious animal, so he will mix well with the whole family and shouldn’t take long to bond with other rabbits.

They are lively and energetic creatures, too. This may make them unsuitable for living with seniors and very young children because they are difficult to catch. They also require a lot of time out of their cage or hutch to exercise.

Tan rabbits are like other animals in the respect that they will have a favored playtime toy or pastime. Some may enjoy chasing a ball while others might prefer playing in and around a box.

Appearance & Varieties

The Tan breed is a fully arched rabbit. This means that the arch starts at the neck and continues to their hips and beyond. They have a lean body, almost with a hare-like appearance. Their large ears stand proud and upright. The breed has a look of intelligence and alertness.

With flyback fur, the Tan has a glossy finish. Your rabbit should do a reasonable job of cleaning and grooming himself, and you should avoid giving your rabbit a full bath because this can cause serious stress and may lead to death. Spot clean any stains or marks, instead.

Your rabbit will groom itself, but cannot vomit, which means that excessive fur and hair can compact in its gut. This makes it especially important that you feed enough fiber to ensure that your rabbit can pass the fur from its stomach. You can also brush your rabbit to help remove dead hair and prevent problems.

Although the Tan must have the red-orange color on a dark coat, the actual color of the coat can be black, blue, chocolate, or lilac. The dark coat is located around the back and sides, as well as its head. The color point is situated on the belly, tops of the feet, underneath the tail, around the eyes, and the nostrils.


How to Take Care of Tan Rabbits


Ancestors of the Tan rabbit hail from England. They would have lived in grassy undergrowth and would have dealt with rain and wind. They are better equipped to deal with the cold than the heat.


Although some websites and guides tell you that breeds like the Tan rabbit only need a cage of 3 square feet, this isn’t large enough for your rabbit to stretch out and run around. Even if they will get regular exercise, you should aim to provide a minimum of 12 square feet. This breed can live in an outdoor hutch, but they will benefit from being given a ramp down to run around on the grass or the floor. If your rabbit lives outdoors, you still need to ensure you meet their outside care requirements.


Your Tab rabbit is a bright and lively rabbit that will benefit from regular play. Playing exercises your rabbit’s mind and their body. Different rabbits have different preferences when it comes to the toys that they choose to play with. Determine whether your Tan prefers rope toys, cardboard boxes, or if he prefers to play with you and other humans.

His cage will also need soft bedding and plenty of it, especially if he is sleeping outdoors. He will need a bowl for food and a bottle for water, too, and you can incorporate some toys into his living area as well as others into his exercise run.

Other Considerations

As a sociable and friendly rabbit, the Tan will benefit from having plenty of time with his humans. The more time you spend with your Tan, the friendlier he will be.

Do Tan Rabbits Get Along with Other Pets?

Like most breeds, the Tan rabbit prefers company to solitude. He will live happily with another rabbit as a bonded pair, and rabbits can live in groups.

However, while this type of pet is sociable, they are also prey and they can be wary of some animals, in particular cats and dogs that tend to stalk and hunt smaller animals. There are exceptions, however, and if you introduce a young rabbit to other young animals, they will have a better chance of getting along.


What to Feed Your Tan Rabbit

A Tan rabbit’s diet should be 70% hay. This should be a high-quality hay feed, although you can feed some grass hay treats on occasion. The remaining 30% of your rabbit’s diet will be made up of leafy green vegetables, fruit, and some herbs, as well as rabbit-specific pellets from the pet store. Pellets are an effective way of ensuring that your rabbit gets all the vitamins and minerals that they require.

Keeping Your Tan Rabbit Healthy

With no known breed-specific illnesses and health complaints, the Tan Rabbit is susceptible to all of the same conditions as other pet rabbits. Overgrown teeth can be a problem if your rabbit does not get enough hay in its diet. When chewing on hay, your rabbit grinds its teeth down. Otherwise, they grow constantly and will need grinding down using some other method.

A poor diet can also lead to diarrhea. You will also need to keep an eye out for flies, tics, and you should use a deworming paste twice a year.


Tan rabbits are considered easy to breed. Not only will they produce large litters regularly, but it is easy to predict the color of kittens, as long as you breed two matching parents.

The propensity to breed means that you should only attempt to breed rabbits if you have experience. They are sexually active from a very young age, so you can quickly be overrun with young rabbits if you do not have separate cages or homes for them to go to.


Are Tan Rabbits Suitable For You?

The Tan rabbit has distinctive markings and physical characteristics. It has won best in show and, since that triumph, has become increasingly popular with exhibitions and as pets. Bright and lively, this small fancy breed is considered a good family pet because, while they might not be too cuddly, they are usually more than happy to spend time with their human family.

They are lively, however, and do benefit from additional exercise over and above the time they have in their cage or hutch. As such, they will benefit from one-on-one time with you, playing games, and enjoy access to a run or other exercise area where they can stretch their legs.

Featured Image Credit: Arno van Dulmen, Shutterstock

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