Himalayan Rabbit

The Himalayan Rabbit is a slim, medium sized rabbit, with a famously laid back temperament. This rabbit has very distinctive black and white colouring with striking red eyes.

Size and weight of the Himalayan rabbit

A small, light rabbit weighing between 1-2 kgs

Colour varieties of the Himalayan rabbit

The Himalayan is seen in white with markings of either black, blue, chocolate or lilac. The eyes are coloured pink/red.

Country of origin

The Himalayan rabbit was originally bred in China before being developed in the UK.

Time of original development

The current breed was refined in the 19th century.

Himalayan rabbit breed introduction and overview

The Himalayan is an old breed, but of unrecorded origin, the breed weknow today was developed in Britain in the 19th century. Also known as the Chinese, Russian, Egyptian and Black Nose) this is a striking rabbit, slim and fine boned rather than cobby and medium sized, it is often mistaken for a Californian Rabbit who they are related to (though the Californian is more thick set) and vice versa. It has red eyes, a dark colour and white coat and quite a long pointed face. The smallish ears are upstanding. Apparently the coat can darken or lighten depending on the temperature where the rabbit is kept (darker in colder weather, known as ‘smut’, paler in hotter) A common mutation in the breed is that does or females often have an extra set of teats.

Habitat and feeding requirements of the Himalayan rabbit

This smallish rabbit needs plenty of space to move around and exercise and a hutch that is large enough for it to stretch to its full height and length in all directions. Even a house Himalayan rabbit should have time to have a good run and explore in a safe place outside.

Feed a standard rabbit diet to ensure good digestion, avoid obesity and give proper wear on the rabbit’s continually growing teeth. See our article on feeding your rabbit.

Does the Himalayan rabbit make a good pet for smaller children?

The Himalayan is renowned for being a placid good natured rabbit with a high level of intelligence. It makes a good family pet and is probably the most docile and gentle breeds of rabbit available. This is an ideal breed to keep as a house rabbit, but ensure this slim breed is not able to squeeze into tight spots that you cannot remove it from. This breed can also be trained to use a litter tray. Your rabbit will need plenty of toys and stimulation and regular access to run outdoors in a run.

Despite their ‘cute’ appearance rabbits are not ideal for very small children to handle unless they are closely supervised together. Rabbits should be socialised at an early age to human company and young children should be taught how to hold a rabbit properly, so that it feels secure.

If any rabbit becomes frightened, the rabbit’s desire to escape means that its powerful back legs can injure the human handler and can cause the rabbit to be dropped and injure itself.

Always keep your rabbits safe from dogs and cats who may harm them. Even where pets ‘get on’, they should be supervised when together and you must ensure that your rabbit is not stressed by being exposed to other animals or people.

Grooming requirements of the Himalayan rabbit

The short coat requires little grooming apart  from a good brush at least once a week  and more during moulting. Additionally, as rabbits’ teeth keep growing throughout their lives, eating the right food will help to keep the teeth properly ground down, but you do need to check, on a frequent basis that this is happening properly, or your pet may need to have its teeth ground down by the vet.

Health issues in the Himalayan rabbit

This rabbit is a reasonably healthy breed being not to large nor too tiny and with average length fur. However, there is a risk of eye problems, due to the eyes being prominent. As with all rabbits, however, check that its bottom is clean of any debris and is kept dry to avoid the danger of flystrike. Keep your rabbit at the correct weight so that it can move easily to groom itself.

Teeth and also toe nails should be checked frequently to ensure they are not growing too long.

Female rabbits should be neutered if you do not intend to breed from them to avoid cancers in later life. Males will become less aggressive if neutered too.

As with all pedigree pets, it is very important to obtain a young rabbit or rabbit kit from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding any inherent problems found in the breed.

Average lifespan of the Himalayan rabbit

A healthy Himalayan rabbit can expect to enjoy a life expectancy of 7–10 years.

Estimating how much it will cost to keep your Himalayan rabbit

A pedigree Himalayan rabbit will cost around £30.

While the initial cost of a pedigree rabbit may seem very low compared to pure bred dogs or even cats, the costs of the following items and procedures make the cost of owning a rabbit mount up:

  • buying a sufficiently large hutch and run
  • specialised feeding and bedding
  • annual inoculations
  • neutering
  • on-going dental care
  • insurance

Rabbits should also be kept in pairs. It is estimated that two rabbits together could cost around £1800 a year throughout their lives (including the initial outlay). See our article on working out the cost of keeping a pet rabbit.