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Thuringer Rabbit

Quincy Miller

If you’re tired of the same-old pets, you should think about giving a Thuringer rabbit a shot. These oversized bunnies are a ton of fun, as they’re extremely outgoing and affectionate like dogs, yet they require a fraction of the care.

Thuringers are extremely rare in the United States, though, so many people may have never even heard of them, much less encountered one. If you’re considering bringing home one of these animals as a pet, this guide will fill you in on everything you need to know in order to raise them properly.

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Quick Facts About Thuringer Rabbits

Species Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Family: Leporids
Care Level: Low to medium
Temperature: 60°F-70°F
Temperament: Friendly, playful, affectionate
Color Form: Charcoal with shades of blue, yellow, and black
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Size: 8-10 pounds
Diet: Grass, hay, rabbit pellets, fruits, veggies
Minimum Tank Size: 12 sq. ft.
Tank Set-Up: Minimal
Compatibility: Gets along well with other rabbits

Thuringer Rabbit Overview

The Thuringer rabbit dates back to the early 20th century, where it was designed in the German town of Thuringer. It was created by a man named David Gartner, who combined Himalayan rabbits with Silver rabbits and even a touch of Flemish Giants.

They were originally bred for commercial purposes, which is to say, for their meat and fur. That’s a big reason they’re so large, but ultimately, their sweet and amiable disposition made them wonderful pets as well.

The breed almost went extinct after WWII, but dedicated breeders managed to bring them back from the brink. It’s a good thing too, as these bunnies are fun and easy for even the most novice rabbit owner to raise.

They can still be hard to find, though, so tracking one down can take a bit of effort. They’re well worth it, though, especially if you want a rabbit that’s capable of handling quite a bit of affection.

Of course, a rabbit this size will require a bit more room and care than their regular counterparts, so they’re not for everyone (particularly those strapped for space). Anyone who has enough room for one of these huge bunnies will have quite the wonderful pet indeed, though.

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How Much Do Thuringer Rabbits Cost?

The cost of a Thuringer rabbit will vary depending on where you buy them from, but this is a rare enough breed that you should expect them to be expensive — at least $100 or more. The hard part will be tracking down a breeder.

Since these bunnies are more often raised for commercial purposes, you may have issues finding a breeder who raises them for use as pets. This is especially true in the United States, where it’s extremely difficult to find the breed at all.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

These big bunnies are laidback animals, and they tend to be docile and open to affection. You can take them out and lavish them with love, and they’re more than happy to soak up all that attention.

In fact, they tend to be attention seekers, and they’ll demand love if they feel like you’re ignoring them. They’re almost dog-like in that regard, and they enjoy rolling around and playing with their humans.

They tend to be lively as well, and they love to run around with people or other rabbits. If you want a pet that you can play with and pet as much as you like, this is an excellent breed to bring home.

Appearance & Varieties

There is only one variety of Thuringer rabbit, so you won’t see much variance in the breed. Every individual is even similar in terms of their coloring.

These bunnies have a charcoal base with a yellow tinge on top, and you’ll often find a bluish-black tinge around their facial features. The color tends to fade along the belly and toward the tail, and you may see ticking around the feet.

The fur is silky and soft, but it’s not thick enough to cause issues with brushing. You’ll undoubtedly spend countless hours petting them, thanks to their sleek feel.

Thuringers look like big Butterballs, with no noticeable neck. This is an adorable look, but don’t let it get out of hand — the breed can be prone to obesity, which is terrible for them. They should weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 5-8 pounds, but some tip the scales at 10 pounds or more.

They have long ears that are usually held upright. They also have powerful legs, which is necessary given their portly bodies.

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How to Take Care of a Thuringer Rabbit

Thuringer rabbits don’t require much in specialized care, so if you have experience taking care of other rabbit breeds, you should do fine with Thuringers. However, there are a few things that you should know about these animals before you bring one home.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Thuringers are big rabbits, so they’ll need plenty of room to spread out. If you don’t have plenty of extra space in your home, you shouldn’t get one of these bunnies.

However, the cage isn’t the only special requirement that these animals will need. We’ve listed the most pressing concerns that any new Thuringer will have, so you can be prepared when you bring one home.

Cage

Thuringers need more space than most other rabbits. Some people keep them outside as a result, and since they’re most often raised for commercial purposes, they’re more than capable of withstanding the outdoors.

Regardless of where you keep them, you’ll need to put them in a large wire cage or an enclosure with plenty of chicken wire. The bigger the enclosure, the better, as they love to hop around and explore as much as possible.

Given that these rabbits can be prone to obesity, allowing them to move around at their leisure will help keep them at a manageable weight. If you can’t provide them with a large enough enclosure to allow this, you should take them out of their cage a few times a day to get exercise.

Bedding

Thuringer rabbits need the same types of bedding that all rabbits require — they’ll just need more of it. Expect to line their cage with shredded paper, Aspen shreds, hay, or litter designed for rabbits.

Avoid using materials such as pine and cedar as bedding, as these can be harmful if eaten (and they will be eaten). Remember to change the bedding out regularly because most rabbits use it as a toilet, so you don’t want bacterial or fungal growth getting out of control.

Temperature

As a general rule, rabbits can handle cool temperatures much more easily than heat. You should aim to keep their cage at around 60°F-70°F if at all possible.

If you’re keeping the rabbit(s) outdoors, they can do fine in temperatures as low as 40°F. Anything less than that, and they should be brought inside or given extra shelter or blankets to keep warm.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with extreme heat (and for rabbits, “extreme heat” means anything over 85°F), you’ll need to bring them inside or provide them with a cool, shaded area to escape the heat.

You should insulate their hutch if you leave them outside, as that will help keep them cool in summer and warmer in winter. Regardless, paying close attention to them and their needs will help ensure that they stay safe and healthy, no matter what Mother Nature is doing.

Lighting

Thuringer rabbits don’t need any sort of special lighting setup if they’re left outdoors. Like all rabbits, though, they need plenty of exposure to ultraviolet light in order to synthesize vitamin D, so having plenty of access to the sun’s rays is essential.

If you’re keeping your bunny indoors, simply keeping them close to a window won’t do the trick, as the glass will block the most important UV rays. Instead, you’ll want to install a UV-B lamp in their cage.

Don’t run it all the time, though; an hour or two a day is plenty. Make sure it’s situated low enough that it won’t shine into the rabbit’s eyes, and keep the wires away from the cage so they don’t chew on them.

Many rabbits can get plenty of vitamin D from the food they eat, especially if you buy them pellets that have been fortified with the nutrient. You can also take your indoor rabbit outside for a few hours a day if you have a leash for them or an enclosed outdoor space.

Do Thuringer Rabbits Get Along With Other Pets?

Thuringer rabbits are sociable creatures, and they should get along well with other rabbits if you want to have a few of them rather than just one. They actually tend to thrive in larger groups, so it may be best for their mental health if they have a few friends. If you just want one, though, you’ll need to make sure to give them plenty of attention to make up for their isolation.

It’s generally discouraged to keep rabbits with other small pets like guinea pigs or rats. They won’t always get along with one another, and they could pass diseases to each other. What’s more, they eat different diets, and it can be a chore making sure that neither one eats something inappropriate for them.

Given their large size, Thuringers may be able to get along with cats better than other rabbits, as they’ll be better able to defend themselves and less likely to be attacked. You still shouldn’t mix the two unless you’re confident that both animals are calm and docile. It’s easy for either or both to get injured if there’s a skirmish.

The same goes for dogs. Only have a rabbit around your dog if you’re absolutely certain that the dog won’t try to eat it, and even then, you’re probably better off not mixing the two animals. If you do want to have both, be sure that you can keep the rabbit in an area that the dog can’t access.

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What to Feed Your Thuringer Rabbit

Thuringers don’t have special dietary needs, so they’ll eat the same things that any rabbit would eat. They need hay or grass as the bedrock of their diet, although you can supplement them with commercial rabbit pellets if you like.

You can also offer your Thuringer fruits or veggies, but only do this as an occasional snack — especially fruits. These foods are calorie dense (and fruits are packed with sugar), and it’s easy for a rabbit to become obese from eating them. As a result, they should be limited to once-a-week treats.

Remember that a rabbit’s teeth will grow constantly, so you need to provide them with something to gnaw on that will file those chompers down. Hay will do a good job of this, but you can also supplement it with chew toys.

Keeping Your Thuringer Rabbit Healthy

It shouldn’t take much to keep your Thuringer healthy, as they’re generally a hardy breed. As long as you feed them a well-balanced, portion-controlled diet and keep their cage clean, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

Still, the occasional checkup is always a good idea, provided that you can find a vet who’s well-versed in rabbit care. It can be surprisingly difficult to find one who understands their unique needs, so look around before an emergency strikes.

You should understand that regardless of how well you care for your Thuringer, you’ll probably only get about 5 years with them. If you’re especially lucky, they may live to 8 or so, but these animals don’t live long as a general rule.

Breeding

It’s difficult to find a reputable Thuringer breeder in the United States, so you may be tempted to start breeding the animals yourself. Doing so isn’t hard — most animals used for commercial purposes are easy to breed — but it still helps if you have a background in animal husbandry.

These rabbits reach sexual maturity at 4 or 5 months old, but it’s advisable to wait a few months after that to start breeding them. All it really takes to convince them to reproduce is to put a male and female in an enclosed space together.

They have a short gestation period, so a female can give birth to several litters in a single year. Given their size, they usually have small litters, with each litter having a maximum size of 5 to 7 kittens.

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Are Thuringer Rabbits Suitable for You?

If you’ve been wanting to own a rabbit, getting a Thuringer is a good place to start. These bunnies are easygoing and simple to own, making them great starter rabbits.

However, they can be difficult to find, especially in the United States, and their larger size means they need more room than other breeds. Most people won’t be willing to do the work necessary to find one of these rabbits, so it’s unlikely that you’d come in contact with one unless you’re specifically looking for them.

They also need plenty of attention, so you should either keep them with a friend or spend as much time with them as you can. That makes them fun to own, though, as they’re affectionate and loving animals.

If you want a big rabbit that can handle plenty of love, a Thuringer is the perfect pet. However, don’t get one if you don’t have the room or time for it — after all, the last thing you want in your house is a giant rabbit who’s mad at you.

Interested in learning more about different breeds of rabbits? Check out these!

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Quincy Miller

Quincy has been around mutts his entire life and has been writing about them for the past nine years and now consists of sharing a house with three spoiled pups who couldn’t hold down a job to save their lives. Quincy never intended to be a cat person. When his wife brought home a kitten one day, he told her she had one week to find it a new home. That week turned into 10 years (his wife moves very slowly), and that kitten turned into three (they got two more, the kitten didn't self-replicate). After a decade of sharing his home with the dogs and three cats, one horrifying realization finally set in: oh God, he's a cat person now too, isn't he???