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New Zealand: Rare
Importation: 1980s

Rex Rabbits

A Rare Breed of French Origin

Rex rabbit
Rex rabbit (smoke pearl colour) Photo by Sitereh Schouten

The Standard Rex rabbit originated in France in 1919 as the result of a recessive genetic mutation leading to guard hairs that do not project longer than the undercoat of the fur. This results in a soft coat having a velvety texture. (It is the guard hairs that give the length of coat common to other breeds.)

The breed was first shown publicly at the Paris International Rabbit Show in 1924 and was imported into the United States of America that same year. It was soon recognized as a standard breed in parts of Europe, and today the overseas following is large with many breeders.

The Rex is bred mainly for its unique short plush coat, which is approximately 13 millimetres in length, and has the feel of velour fabric. To the touch a Rex coat is very silky and dense over the whole body. This type of fur stands out amongst that of other rabbits.

Rex rabbit
Rex rabbit (Himalayan colour) Photo by Sitereh Schouten

In the past, Rex pelts were used mainly for coats and other clothing. An Australian newspaper item in 1945 (quoting a British source) stated that through cross-breeding Rex rabbits could “produce fur almost indistinguishable from chinchilla, silver fox, squirrel, and others.”

The body shape of the Rex is very well proportioned and it is a medium boned rabbit. It has a graceful carriage and round quarters with a broad head. The adult weight is around 2.72 to 3.62 kilograms.

Rex rabbits were imported into New Zealand from North America in the 1980s, along with other breeds, primarily for commercial use, it having a reasonably sized carcase and a spectacular range of pelt colours – the Rabbit Council of New Zealand currently accepts over 30 different colour variations.

Rex rabbit at Stoney Oaks
Rex rabbit (Photo by Gail Simons)

Today, the demand for animal fur as a clothing fabric has declined, hence they are not bred commercially anymore in New Zealand. When the Rex was first imported it became very popular as a show animal, then more as a pet for adults and children. Nowadays breeders are few, but they are still very enthusiastic about their breed and they consider it to be the “King” of all rabbits.

If you feel a Rex is your type of rabbit, then you have chosen a breed with a very nice nature and one that would make a great pet.

In 2011, the number of standard Rex rabbits in New Zealand was around 100.

(Anyone wishing to find breeders of the Standard Rex should contact the Secretary of Rabbit council of New Zealand for contact details of those who are breeding this very handsome looking rabbit – Rabbit Council of New Zealand, P O Box 56-285, Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. Email: rcnzsecretary (at)

Thanks to Sitereh Schouten of Natures Pace for the above information.
Rex rabbit kits

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