Rex Rabbits: Luxurious Fur and Charming Pets in Demand

The Rex Rabbit Breed is a Meaty Rabbit Developed from a Mutation Giving it Extremely Dense, Velvety Fur

by Sherri Talbot
PHOTO: A Rex Rabbit

The Rex rabbit was first shown in Paris in 1924 and was brought to the United States in the same year. Known as the King of Rabbits, the Rex remains the most commonly used rabbit for pelts, due to its plush coat. The breed was developed in 1919 from a mutation found in a litter of wild rabbits. The mutation had no prominent guard hair, giving the rabbit a softer, denser coat.

Like most rabbit breeds, the rex is a fairly docile animal. According to, the average lifespan of a rex is 6 to 8 years, giving it a shorter lifespan than the average 7 to 10-year lifespan of most domestic rabbits.

Rex Rabbit Breed Standard

According to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (2018), the Rex rabbit should have a broad head set close to the shoulders, the eyes and ears should be alert and ears should be held upright. Hips should be well-rounded with a wide loin, rib and shoulders. Feet should be parallel, and not too long.

Also Read: Know About Mini Rex Rabbits

Fur should be between half to seven-eights of an inch. Sixteen different colors are recognized in show-quality rabbits.

The Rex is considered a medium-weight rabbit. Bucks should weigh between 7.5 to 9.5 pounds, does 8 to 10.5 pounds. While smaller than most common meat rabbit breeds, the Rex is often raised as a dual-purpose, meat and fur, animal.

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Rex Rabbit Fur

While Rex are used for meat, show and as pets, the breed is primarily known and raised for the plush fur. Rabbits usually have a dual coat, the undercoat and the “guard hairs.” The distinct feel of a Rex coat is due to a mutation in which the guard hairs are missing. This leaves only the softer undercoat. It’s similar to goslings or ducklings before their feathers grow in – the down is always softer.

The quality of this coat can vary, depending on the rabbit’s genetics. In meat rabbits, a thick skin is considered a detriment because it ends up being part of the offal during butchering. However, for those interested in using the pelt, a thicker skin has been shown to be beneficial to the Rex, as the hide is less likely to tear and the fur less likely to fall out. The journal “Animal” published a 2023 study suggesting that Rex be processed in the winter, due to the significantly thinner and poorer quality coat the rabbits produced in the summer.

Rex Rabbits: Care

As with most rabbit breeds, Rex are curious, social animals. Many raise rabbits in a colony because of this. Stimuli and enough space to move around improve the quality of the rabbit’s life. Those raising for production may consider this a waste of resources, but a study of Rex rabbits in China showed that the quality of meat and fur improved when the rabbits were given access to stimulation, rather than just food and water. The study was done with two rabbits per cage, a practice recommended by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF).

Suggested cage size varies, depending on your source. The Michigan State University website suggests 3 to 4 feet of cage space per rabbit, depending on their weight. However, the RWAF and other organizations suggest that, at the very least, rabbits should be able to hop three times from end to end and stand on their hind legs without hitting the top.

Several studies were presented at the 8th World Rabbit Congress in 2004 about the feeding of Rex rabbits. These studies showed that Rex rabbits require at least 12% crude fiber in their diet. Below that and the rabbits had diarrhea and significantly lower weight gain. At 14% crude fiber, the efficiency of feed versus growth weight decreased, suggesting that feed should be around 12% crude fiber.

Research was also done on the protein levels for pregnant and lactating rabbits. Does fed a minimum of 17.5% protein showed higher numbers of kits in a litter, heavier young at birth and a better survival rate in the kits. Lactating mothers who were continued on this feed had kits with a faster weight development, with the best fur density.

This story about the rex rabbit was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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