Californian Rabbit (Size, Color, Behavior, Temperament)

Californian rabbits were bred for fur and meat production, but as family pets, they tend to become “snuggle bunnies.”

They are great for raising for livestock shows (just be sure your children know what happens to the winners before they enter their rabbit), and they are unusually easy to care for.

These lovable creatures have a striking coloration that comes from their Himalayan and Standard Chinchilla rabbit ancestry, combined with New Zealand Whites.

This breed is perfect for you if you’re looking for an affectionate furry friend that can brighten up your day!

Essential Facts About Californian Rabbits

  • Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus
  • Care level, compared to other rabbits: Does best outdoors in a hutch. Not suitable for small apartments.
  • Temperament: Extremely sociable, don’t like being left alone in their hutch.
  • Color: White fur, with brown to black markings on the ears, nose, feet, and tail. Pink eyes.
  • Lifespan: 5 to 10 years.
  • Maximum size: 11 pounds (5 kg).
  • Dietary requirements: Mostly timothy hay. Do not give molasses-based feed pellets, especially to younger rabbits.
  • Compatible breeds: New Zealand White, Himalayan.
  • Cage size: 30 inches wide by 36 inches long by 18 inches tall (77 cm by 77 cm by 38 cm) for larger adults. Needs about 2 square yards (2 square meters) of protected playspace if kept outdoors in a hutch.
  • Thrives indoors, or outdoors in temperate climates/ Because of its undercoat, the Californian rabbit is prone to heat exhaustion in the summer in the southern United States.

History of Californian Rabbit

There are many rabbits that have names that are not actually where they come from.

Himalayan, New Zealand, and Polish rabbits, for instance, did not come from the Himalayas, New Zealand, or Poland, respectively.

The Calfirornian rabbit, however, actually was created in California. It was developed in 1923 by rabbit breeder George West.

West had been trying to breed a cage-comfortable rabbit with good meat and fur production for five years.

He first developed a small, Chinchilla-colored male by crossing Himalayan Whites with Chinchilla rabbits.

Then he bred the buck with several New Zealand rabbits to increase their size, and so the Californian rabbit was born.

West and two other rabbit breeders perfected the breed, and they finally showed the breed at an American Rabbit Breeders Association meeting in 1932.

It became a recognized breed in 1939.

Today, only New Zealand White rabbits are more popular than Californian rabbits. They are easy to find and very popular with young 4-H members.

You might be wondering, how did the breed become so popular?

In later years, the Californian rabbit continued to excel as a top choice for rabbit breeders, particularly for its valuable fur and meat.

And today, you can find this breed in many households, making it one of the most beloved and versatile rabbit breeds out there.

Appearance of the Californian Rabbit

Californian rabbits have the commercial body type.

That means, their bodies are neither particularly long nor particularly short, and they are as wide as they are thick from neck to tail.

They have a muscular body, with full shoulders and hind quarters.

Their ears are broad, not particularly long, and point straight up.

Size and Weight

The Californian rabbit is known for its large size and well-rounded compact body.

Typically, they weigh around 9.5 pounds but can vary from 7.5 to 11 pounds.

As a rabbit owner, you might find it easier to handle Californian rabbits because of their manageable size.


A California rabbit’s coat is not soft. Petting is more enjoyable for the rabbit than for the human petting it. The fur is short, and the undercoat is dense.

The Californian rabbit’s coat is usually completely white except for black markings on the ears, nose, feet, and tail, like Himalayan rabbits.

California rabbits are about twice as large as the similarly colored Himalayan rabbits, and far less vulnerable to injuries and predators.

Californian rabbits shed more hair in the spring than at any other time of year.

To keep shedding in your home to a minimum, all you need to do is to comb their coats with a bristle comb outdoors twice a week during shedding season.


The only coat color identified as belonging to a Californian rabbit by the American Rabbit Breeders Association is white, with markings on the ears, nose, tail, and feet as dark as possible.

Californian rabbits have pink eyes, like albino rabbits.

Californian Rabbit Outdoor

This combination of soft fur and striking colors is one of the reasons many people fall in love with Californian rabbits.

Temperament of the Californian Rabbit

When it comes to the California rabbit’s temperament, they are known for being docile, calm, and friendly.

These rabbits make great pets for families as long as they are well-socialized and handled.

At first, your Californian rabbit might be a bit shy and quiet, but with proper socialization, it will warm up to you and thrive in your home.

Some key traits about the Californian rabbit’s personality include:

  • Good-natured and easy-going
  • Adaptable to different environments
  • Enjoys human company when well-socialized

These rabbits may become timid or skittish if not handled properly. Californian rabbits that are threatened or afraid can kick or bite or scratch you.

So, make sure you’re gentle and patient when interacting with your Californian rabbit.

Californian rabbits can make affectionate pets, but they need lots of time outside their cages to explore and play.

When you first get your Californian rabbit, make sure it has a chance to get to know its surroundings before you try to pick it up.

Place a towel over the backside of your rabbit and hold it with your hand gently resting on its neck if you have to take it somewhere it will find scary.

Requirements for Care of Californian Rabbits

Californian rabbits thrive outdoors in hutches as long as they are protected from the sun, rain, snow, and predators.

They should not spend all of their time in cages indoors.

Provide a hutch or cage that is at least four times its body length, with smooth surfaces and ample ventilation.

Consider the following for a great home:

  • Adequate space for your rabbit to move, stretch, and play
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance
  • Secure from predators and harsh weather


Californian rabbits like to have a nearly completely enclosed hutch with just one opening for ventilation.

The hutch should open to a “rabbit run” with predator-proof wire on all sides, and grass for the floor.

Inside the hutch, rabbits like to sleep on dry timothy hay. You should change the hay at least weekly.

If you keep your rabbit indoors, you can give it the same kind of bed you would provide for a cat or a small dog for naps. But it will also need a box to rest in lined with hay.

Make sure you change your rabbit’s hay at least once a week.


A proper diet is crucial for your Californian Rabbit’s health.

Make sure to give them access to unlimited hay daily, which provides their primary source of nutrition. You can feed your rabbit around ¼ cup of pellets per day.

Additionally, include fresh vegetables and water in their diet:

  • Leafy greens, like kale and spinach
  • Water from a sipper bottle or bowl


Californian Rabbits require regular grooming to maintain their delicate coat.

Brush your rabbit’s coat at least three times a week to avoid breaking its hair fibers, and use a soft bristle brush or comb.

Additional grooming tasks for a healthy rabbit include:

  • Trimming their nails monthly
  • Checking for signs of illness or parasites
  • Wiping their eyes and ears with a damp cloth


Most rabbits are happy and active at temperatures of 58° to 72° F (18° to 21° C).

Californian rabbits have an undercoat that makes it possible for them to live outdoors in hutches during the winter, even when it is snowing, but they do not do very well when temperatures exceed 90° F (33° C).


Make sure your Californian rabbit has some playtime in the sun every day.

Even better, keep it outdoors in a hutch attached to an enclosed rabbit run.

Health Issues and Lifespan of California Rabbit

Californian rabbits have an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years.

By providing proper care, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, you can help ensure your rabbit lives a healthy and happy life.

While Californian rabbits don’t have breed-specific health issues, they can be prone to some common rabbit health concerns.

For instance, larger breeds like the Californian may develop sore hocks if they’re kept in a cage with a wire floor. To avoid this, provide solid floored housing for your rabbit.

Here are a few more health issues to watch for:

  • Obesity: Monitor your rabbit’s food intake to keep them at a healthy weight and avoid obesity-related complications.
  • Parasites and infections: Schedule yearly veterinary examinations, vaccines, and worming treatments to protect your rabbit’s health.

When providing indoor or outdoor space for your Californian rabbit, remember that they are sensitive to cold temperatures.

Make sure their living space is well-suited to their needs to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Popular Bunny Names for Californian Rabbit Rabbit

Here’s a table with popular Californian Rabbit names, reflecting their breed characteristics.

The Californian Rabbit is known for its large size, white coat with dark points on the ears, nose, feet, and tail, and gentle demeanor.

Many of these names are inspired by their unique appearance and friendly nature.

Boy Bunny Names for Californian RabbitBoy Bunny Names for Californian Rabbit

These names emphasize the distinctive coloration and overall charm of the Californian Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Rabbit

Are Californian rabbits rare?

Not at all. You should not have a lot of trouble finding a Californian rabbit.

How much does a Californian rabbit cost?

Bunnies are available for $40 to $50, although show-quality rabbits will cost more, up to $150.

Where can I buy a Californian rabbit?

Look for breeders who belong to the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Or check an online directory of rabbit breeders.

Do Californian rabbits get along with other pets?

Californian rabbits get along well with cats and small dogs.
Don’t keep them with hamsters or guinea pigs, because rabbits can transmit a bacterial infection called Bordetella (that doesn’t harm them) to rodents.

How often do I need to groom my Californian rabbit?

Once a week to once every two weeks is usually enough, except during shedding season.

In the early spring, Californian rabbits need to be brushed about twice a week.

Do Californian rabbits get sick easily?

Californian rabbits are so affectionate to people that it is easy to forget that solitary rabbits don’t develop social skills to deal with other rabbits.

If you enjoy your Californian rabbit so much that you decide to buy another, be sure to introduce your rabbits by scent and sight gradually to prevent fights and serious injuries.
Give each rabbit something belonging to the other rabbit to sniff and play with for a day or two before you place them in adjoining cages.

Then, put them in adjoining cages separated by wire for a day so they can get used to looking at each other.
Only after extensive introductions is it a good idea to put your rabbits in the same cage.

Feeding Californian rabbits a pellets-only diet can cause serious damage to their health. The lack of fiber can trigger a condition called gastrointestinal stasis. A mass of undigested food sits in the small intestines, and water and food have to slide around it.

Your rabbit can have diarrhea and constipation at the same time. The inability to digest its food can result in rapid starvation even if it is eating normally.

Gastrointestinal stasis has to be treated by your vet.

Are there any downsides to owning a Californian rabbit?

Californian rabbits are happier outdoors, but keeping them outdoors makes them vulnerable to two common problems.

One is flystrike. Flies lay their eggs in manure that gets stuck to your rabbit’s fur. When their eggs hatch, the larvae will feed on your rabbit’s flesh. Keeping your rabbit clean prevents this problem.

Another issue with Californian rabbits kept outdoors is ear mites. If you let your rabbits some through tall grass, be sure to check their coats for ticks and their ears for mites several times over the next few days.

Remove ticks with tweezers. Do not press them into your rabbit’s skin. Treat mite-infested ears with Eradmitie or Zymox for Healthy Skin.

Where can I find other people who are interested in Californian rabbits?

A. Visit the National Calfornian Rabbit Specialty Club page on Facebook.

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