Written and Illustrated by F. J. S. Chatterton
Specialist Breeder and Judge of Poultry, Pigeons, and Cage Birds; Judge at the Grand International Show, Crystal Palace; Membre Societe' des Aviculteurs Francais,- Vice-president Poultry Club; Hon. Sec. Yokohama Club; on the Committee of Middlesex Columbarian Society, Indian Game Club, etc.
- Their Points
This breed was originally imported into this country from Belgium, where it was bred with great care and success. As it is an excellent breed for utility purposes, as well as very handsome, it has become a favourite among the rabbit fanciers in this country. About ten or twelve years ago the breed was taken up by American fanciers with great enthusiasm, and a large number of very fine specimens in England were sold to breeders in America at high prices. Fan-c ie r s in California and Los Angeles were especially keen buyers, and these rabbits are now bred there in quite large numbers. There is no doubt that the finest specimens of the Belgian hare are now bred in England and America, and that in type, quality, and general characteristics they have attained a much higher state of perfection than formerly.
This breed is thought by some to be a cross between a hare and a rabbit, which is an error. The thing would be impossible, for the hare and the rabbit are quite distinct species, that differ essentially as to their mode of living and rearing their young; the young of the rabbit are born almost naked, whilst the young of the hare have a warm coat of fur when they enter the world.
Rabbits live in burrows under-ground, but hares live above ground.
The Belgian Hare rabbit, so called from its resemblance to a hare in colour and shape. The breed is very popular, not only on account of its remarkable appearance, but also from a utilitarian point of view good specimens, and the aim of the breeder is to produce stock as much like a hare as possible. Belgian hares have much longer legs, bodies, heads, and ears than other rabbits; the eye is also larger, and has more the expression of a hare than a rabbit.
These rabbits are very hardy, and have good constitutions, thus being a very suitable variety for the amateur to keep.
In exhibition specimens the colour of the fur is very important. It should be reddish ticked with black, and quite free from any washy buff-brown or bluish grey tint. The ears should be tipped with black, and very dense in colour. The front legs should be long and very straight, of a rich red colour, and free from any white hairs.
These rabbits should have a smart appearance, the coat fitting closely to the body, free from any heaviness or full and loose appearance. The average weight of a typical specimen is about eleven pounds.
The English rabbit is also a very popular breed, and one of the oldest in this country. It was formerly known as the butterfly rabbit, or spotted butterfly rabbit, a name received from the marking on its nose, which resembles a butterfly in shape.
It is a pretty animal, and shows effective contrasts of colours and markings. The ears are deep black, and there is a patch of black round the eye, below which there is a spot of black known as the cheek markings. The marking down the back is called the trace, or very often the herring-bone mark. The spots
The English rabbit, formerly known as the butterfly rabbit, or spotted butterfly rabbit, from the distinctive marking on the nose. The object of the fancier is to produce specimens with markings identical in size and position on each side of the animal from each side of the face are known as the chain, and the markings on each side of the back as the saddle markings; these latter should meet the chain markings.
In breeding English rabbits the chief object is to produce specimens with markings identical in size and position on each side of the animal. This is no easy task, for one is apt to produce rabbits that are very good and even on one side, whilst on the other side the markings are too heavy or large, and often indistinct and blurred. At other times animals are bred that have weak or small markings, perhaps almost white on one side. When, however, one is bred with good, sound, even markings on both sides, and well balanced, the owner feels quite repaid for all trouble.
Besides the black-and-white rabbit, there is the blue-and-white, and the tortoise-shell-and-white; but the prettiest, and certainly the most popular, is the first-named. The black markings should be of a deep rich black and quite free from any rusty colour or white hairs; the same rule also applies to the markings on the blues and the tortoiseshell-viz., that the colour of markings must be pure and distinct.
These English rabbits are very hardy animals, and appear to thrive in all localities. They do very well in hutches out of doors all the year round, and do not require any artificial heat. They are, therefore, well suited for the novice fancier, and for those who cannot devote much time to their pets. They are medium-sized rabbits, with somewhat short coats, the hair of which is of a slightly hard texture.