Would you like to own a Strange Little Black Rabbit?
Then look for a Silver Marten rabbit! The breed we now know as Silver Marten rabbits was once known as Strange Little Black rabbits.
Their ancestors were rabbits of another breed we have discussed, the Standard Chinchilla rabbits, with a mutation that gives these small rabbits yet another kind of uniquely colored fur.
Silver Marten rabbits have beautifully colored coats and silvery underparts. They are large enough that they are not easily injured by boisterous children, so they make great pets for the entire family.
They are social, friendly, and intelligent, capable of becoming your animal companion for many years to come.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the history, appearance, temperament, and care of Silver Marten rabbits. Then we will answer some frequently asked questions.
But first, let’s go over the essential facts about Silver Marten rabbits.
Essential Facts About Silver Marten Rabbits
Body type: Slim. You can see daylight beneath the rabbit when it stands up.
Color: Black and silver, blue and silver, chocolate and silver, sable and silver. Eyes may be brown or bluish-gray.
Adult size: 6.5 to 8.5 pounds (2.9 to 3.9 kilograms).
Lifespan: 5 to 8 years. Lives longer if it has a companion rabbit.
Litter size: 5 to 7 kits,
Temperament: Timid around larger pets and people they don’t know, but will spend all of their time eating and playing if given the opportunity. Easy to train.
Housing needs: Each Silver Marten rabbit needs about 3 feet by 4 feet (100 cm by 130 cm) of space in a hutch, crate, or cage, with enough clearance that its ears do not brush against the top of its enclosure, 14 inches (35 cm) or more. Should not have to walk on wire floors.
Suitable as indoor or outdoor rabbit.
Diet: Mostly hay. Do not give dog or cat food. Make sure your Silver Marten rabbit always has fresh water.
Silver Martens are suitable for singles, seniors, couples, and families with children in elementary school. Silver Martens will be shy around pre-school children because these rabbits instinctively fear injury.
Good choice for 4-H shows.
History of the Silver Marten Rabbit
Silver Marten rabbits resulted from an effort to restore the Chinchilla rabbit’s early popularity.
Chinchilla rabbits were developed in the 1910s as a substitute source of fur for chinchilla coats.
The first registered Chinchilla rabbit was shown at the New York State Fair in 1919, and the breed immediately became enormously popular.
But chinchilla coats and faux-chinchilla coats made from rabbit fur went out of style.
Rabbit breeders attempted to regenerate interest in the breed by introducing black and brown Tan rabbits into their Chinchilla rabbit breeding program.
An unexpected result of breeding Tan rabbits with agouti Chinchilla rabbits was the appearance of a few beautiful bunnies with black hair that came to be known as “Strange Little Black rabbits.”
Eventually, some black, white, and silver-white rabbits appeared in litters born to Standard Chinchilla rabbits.
Offspring of Tan rabbits bred to Chinchillas were born with silver markings in the Tan pattern.
The Silver Marten was recognized as a new breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) in 1924.
What makes this breed stand out is that “Silver Marten” refers to both the breed itself and the color pattern found in their fur. The unique coloration was later introduced into other rabbit breeds as well.
ARBA developed show standards for black and chocolate Silver Marten rabbits in 1927, and blue and sable Silver Marten rabbits in 1933.
Today, the Silver Marten Rabbit continues to be a popular breed among rabbit enthusiasts in the United States and around the world.
Their unique history and stunning appearance make them a charming addition to the world of rabbit breeds, and their popularity is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Appearance of the Silver Marten Rabbit
Rabbit breeders use the term “Silver Marten” to refer to both a breed and a color.
For Silver Marten rabbits, the breed came first, and the colors were bred later. All Silver Martens have silver-tipped hair, but their base coats come in different colors.
Black Silver Martens
Black Silver Martens are the most common variety of this breed.
They have jet black hair with silver tips on the top of their bodies, and blue fur beneath. Black Silver Martens have dark brown eyes.
Blue Silver Martens
Blue Silver Martens have grayish-blue hairs all over their bodies.
They develop silver tips on the hairs of their coat at about four months of age, which is later than the silvering comes in on Black Silver Martens. Their eyes will be bluish-gray.
Chocolate Silver Martens
Chocolate Silver Martens have rich, dark brown fur on the top side of their bodies and lighter brown fur on their bellies.
Hairs on the bellies have pigment only at their tips. Chocolate Silver Marten fur color may fade as the rabbit gets older, especially if the rabbit has to go through stress (encounters with predators, moving to a new home, losing an owner, and so on).
Sable silver martens
Sable silver martens are the least common variety of this breed. They have medium-sepia brown fur on the “saddle,” over the ribs to the hind legs.
The color of their fur gets lighter on the lower parts of its body. These rabbits have dark brown, almost black fur on their lower legs, ears, face, tail, and the outsides of their feet.
They have a blotchy silver color when they are born, but they get darker throughout their lives.
What else will you notice about the appearance of Silver Marten rabbits?
- Silver Marten fur is soft to the touch. It has a glossy look.
- Silver Martens look a lot like wild hares. They appear to be constantly on alert.
- Silver Martens have wedge-shaped faces. Their ears stand erect, and they do not meet on their heads.
Temperament of the Silver Marten Rabbit
Silver Martens given calm, stable, protected environments, become loving pets.
Most of a rabbit’s behavior can be explained in terms of its need for self-protection.
The reason smaller rabbits do not like being picked up is that their smaller bones are more easily broken. Bunnies are skittish around larger pets that, in nature, might eat them.
You may notice that these rabbits are quite timid at first, but with a little patience and gentle interactions, they will become more comfortable with you.
As they become accustomed to their environment and human companions, their underlying playful nature starts to shine through.
Female rabbits get grumpy and aggressive when they are pregnant and just after they have their babies, because they want to protect their young.
Your Silver Marten needs a companion rabbit to be happy. If you buy just one Silver Marten, its companion “rabbit” will be you.
Keep Silver Martens and all small rabbits separated from your other pets, especially aggressive dogs and all snakes.
Here are a few key points about the Silver Marten Rabbit’s behavior:
- Initially timid, but become more comfortable with time
- Social and friendly with humans and other rabbits
- Playful and enjoy interactive activities
Taking Care of Your Silver Marten Rabbit
Protected from predators, Silver Martens are hardy pets.
They have no special care needs relative to other rabbits, and they seldom get sick, if you give them what they need.
A balanced diet is essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Silver Marten Rabbit.
To keep your rabbit healthy, make sure to incorporate a variety of foods, including hay, vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, and treats.
Hay should make up a significant portion of your Silver Marten Rabbit’s diet since it helps maintain healthy digestion and prevents potential dental issues. Provide an unlimited supply of fresh hay, such as Timothy or Meadow hay, to ensure your rabbit always has access to this essential food source.
Vegetables and Leafy Greens play a crucial role in providing essential vitamins and minerals for your rabbit. Include a variety of greens in their daily diet, such as kale, parsley, collard greens, dandelion greens, and romaine lettuce. Remember to introduce new vegetables gradually to avoid upsetting their sensitive stomachs.
Fruits can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your Silver Marten Rabbit’s diet but should be given in moderation due to their high sugar content. Some suitable fruits to offer your rabbit include apple, pear, and blueberries. Remember to remove seeds and pits, as these can be harmful to your pet.
Treats can be a fun way to bond with your rabbit and supplement their regular diet. Offer small amounts of commercial rabbit treats or healthy options like small carrot pieces, bell pepper, or cucumber slices as occasional rewards.
By providing your Silver Marten Rabbit with a balanced diet of hay, vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, and treats, you’ll be supporting their overall well-being and helping them lead a healthy, happy life.
Provide your rabbit with a litter box it can reach any time of day or night. Line the box with hay.
Change the hay daily as it becomes soaked with urine, and weekly to clean the box.
Don’t be distressed if your Silver Marten eats its soft feces. This is actually part of its digestive process.
All rabbits need 2 or 3 hours of play time every day. For indoor rabbits, a rabbit tunnel with chew sticks, a hay house, and other toys is ideal.
Outdoor rabbits can have their own space in your backyard, but make sure they are protected from predators at ground level and from the air.
Silver Marten rabbits won’t have problems with temperatures down to freezing if they are protected from wind and rain.
They may have problems with heat stress when temperatures are above 85° F (29° C).
You can prevent this problem if you place one bottle of frozen water in the hutch for each rabbit to use for cooling.
Health Issues of Silver Marten Rabbits
All rabbits descended from the Standard Chinchilla rabbit need grooming 2 or 3 times a week plus a high-fiber diet to prevent a condition called woolblock, also known as gastrointestinal stasis.
This condition is caused by an accumulation of hair at the base of the rabbit’s stomach. The hair ball forms from hair the rabbit licks off itself.
Rabbits cannot vomit up hairballs. Accumulated hair can block the passage of food, but usually not water, so the rabbit develops runny diarrhea and severe malnutrition.
There may also be lumps visible through the rabbit’s belly.
Making sure your rabbit gets plenty of fiber in its daily diet prevents woolblock. It also prevents a condition called malocclusion, or overgrown teeth.
The other thing you can do to keep your Silver Marten rabbit healthy is to prevent contact with wild animals, especially wild rabbits. This prevents transmission of infectious diseases.
Are Silver Marten Rabbits Good Pets?
The Silver Marten Rabbit is a captivating and elegant breed that makes an excellent pet for families, children, and even households with dogs or cats.
With their medium size, usually weighing between 6.5 and 8.5 lbs, and ultra-soft coats with silver undersides, they are easily recognizable and quite adorable.
When choosing a Silver Marten as a pet, you’ll notice their unique color and markings. Their pattern typically consists of a dark base coat with silver-tipped hairs, giving them a polished look.
They can come in various colors, including black, blue, chocolate, and sable, making each one quite distinctive.
The temperament of Silver Marten rabbits is generally gentle, although they can be a bit more timid than some other larger rabbit breeds.
Don’t worry, with patience and proper socialization, they’ll quickly learn to trust you and enjoy your company.
Remember to be gentle and calm when bonding with and handling them, especially in the beginning.
Caring for your Silver Marten pet rabbit isn’t complicated, but several essential factors need attention. Let’s break down their basic needs:
- Diet: A balanced and healthy diet is crucial for your rabbit. Provide them with a combination of high-quality pellets, fresh hay, and leafy greens. Don’t forget to include a few rabbit-friendly fruits and vegetables as treats in moderation.
- Housing: Silver Marten rabbits need a comfortable living space with plenty of room to hop around, play, and rest. Provide them with a clean, sturdy, and secure hutch, including areas where they can hide and feel safe. Ensure that they have proper bedding materials and that you clean their living space regularly.
- Exercise: To keep your rabbit healthy and happy, give them plenty of room and time to exercise and explore. They love to run, hop, and play, so invest in some toys and interactive activities to keep them entertained and physically active.
- Healthcare: Regular check-ups with a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care are essential. Be proactive in monitoring changes in your rabbit’s behavior, eating habits, and physical condition to catch issues before they become serious problems.
With proper care and attention, you and your Silver Marten rabbit can have a great relationship.
As with any pet, it’s essential to learn about and understand their specific needs and characteristics to provide them with the best possible life and enjoy years of companionship together.
Popular Bunny Names for Silver Marten Rabbits
Here’s a table with popular Silver Marten Rabbit names, reflecting their breed characteristics.
The Silver Marten Rabbit is known for its shiny coat, often silver or black, and a playful and friendly personality.
These names take inspiration from their unique appearance and fun-loving nature.
|Boy Bunny Names for Silver Marten Rabbits
|Girl Bunny Names for Silver Marten Rabbits
|Midnight (for black ones)
|Mercury (for silver ones)
|Aurora (for silver ones)
|Onyx (for black ones)
|Ebony (for black ones)
These names emphasize the shiny coat and playful, friendly personality of the Silver Marten Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.
Also read: Popular Bunny Names (Girl/Boy)
Frequently Asked Questions About Silver Marten Rabbits
Q. Where can I find a Silver Marten rabbit?
Q. How much will I pay for a Silver Marten rabbit?
A. Silver Marten rabbits usually cost US $50 to $150, but a show-quality rabbit may cost $150 to $500.
Q. Are Silver Marten rabbits endangered?
A. The Livestock Conservancy lists Silver Marten rabbits as critically endangered. Only 50 are registered each year, and the worldwide population of the species may be under 500.
Q. What are the common colors of a Silver Marten Rabbit?
Silver Marten Rabbits are commonly found in four different colors: Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Sable.
They all have unique silver undersides and are easily recognizable by their soft coats and distinctive markings.
Q. What are some pros and cons of owning a Silver Marten Rabbit?
Pros – Low-maintenance grooming, generally friendly and sociable, adapt well to various living situations.
Cons – May need time to warm up to new people and environments, require a fairly large space for their habitat, regular veterinary check-ups are necessary for overall health.
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