That is the only word to describe the reason why rabbit breeders tattoo their rabbits. There are 2 ways used for identification in rabbits. Firstly is the tattoo on the left ear and secondly, an identification ring on one of the legs. The identification rings are mainly used in the European countries and British Rabbit Council (BRC) breeders. I personally feel that the rings are less permanent as they can be removed easily.
As for tatoo, ARBA breeders usually tattoo their rabbits on the LEFT ear. The Registrar normally tattoo the right ear. Therefore, if you see a rabbit with both ears tattooed, then you are holding a rabbit that has been registered with ARBA. What is the difference between a rabbit registered with ARBA? Only rabbits registered with ARBA can obtain a GC Certificate and thus, you can only grand a rabbit if it is registered.
If a rabbit is not registered with ARBA, it still can be shown and obtain GC legs. As a senior, if a rabbit obtain 3 GC legs under different judges, then the rabbit can be granded if it has been registered.
I am going off topic for a little while more. In ARBA world, there are 2 roles which are very important.
The Registrar – the person that helps breeders and rabbit owners to get their rabbits registered.
The Judge – the person that is responsible for evaluating your rabbit and award a GC leg whenever deemed fit.
So why do we tattoo? Yes, for identifications. You may have many rabbits both you currently own and those that you have sold. A simple pedigree is not sufficient to link it to a rabbit. Therefore, when you have a 3 generation pedigree, it must also state the tattoo number which is the same as the number on the left ear of the rabbit.
That’s how the tattoo is useful at the breeder’s end. To identify each rabbit if there are more than 1 that may look similar. With the tattoo number, the breeder can go through the records and pull up its pedigree to trace back on the lineage.
As for the Rabbit Shows, the tattoo is very important. The Tattoo acts like our Identification Card (IC). There will be hundreds of rabbits and how do we identify our own rabbits in a place filled with – rabbits? Besides that, during a rabbit show, the judge must not know who the owner of the rabbit he/she is judging to avoid partiality and biasness. Since you cannot possibly tattoo the breeder’s name on the rabbit, most uses the conventional way of number combinations.
There are 2 types of tattoo tools that can be used:
1) Tattoo Clamp with digits
This is like the tool used in ear piercing except it has got individual digits with many small needles that make up a number. Depending on the number of digits required, the tattoo digits are fitted into the clamp and pressed on the rabbit’s ear.
2) Tattoo Pen
This is becoming a widely used tool as it is easier to write and some say is less painful for the rabbits. I personally think that the pain last longer as the numbers are being “etched” into the skin. I hope to try this one out in the near future but for now, I prefer the clamp method.
So as a conclusion, tattoo is a neccessity if you want a good identification method. It is not a luxury item as you can see. I do not charge more because I tatoo my rabbits. I don’t think it is something to be charged extra for. It is not glamorous to have tattoo. A tattoo does not make a non pedigree rabbit a pedigreed rabbit. Everything in the rabbit world right now runs in such a way that it is self regulatory. There is no one body that governs the identification of rabbits vis-a-vis to the likes of the dog world where a club issues microchip and pedigrees.
I personally tattoo my rabbit solely for the reason of identification and it goes hand in hand with the pedigrees I issue to my adopters/buyers.