I am very grateful to have many amazing mentors in this bunny hobby throughout the years and I will never forget what one of my mentors told me about Holland Lop rabbits living against the odds in the warmer climate here in Malaysia and the high humidity level that do have adverse effect on them as well. This mentor of mine illustrated verbally exactly how imported rabbits will “transform” in their next generations.
Over the years I can clearly see the toll it (the weather) has taken on many imported rabbits. One issue clearly stands out among the many issues raising “show quality” rabbits here in Malaysia. Of course it does not take a genius to question such issues but the most prominent problem faced by seasoned breeders here is BREEDING.
There are many theories that has been derived through experiences and observations but tonight I would like to share my opinions on some of the problems that I have observed throughout the years.
We all know that breeding is an act by living creatures to increase the numbers of the species and I strongly believe that it will be successful only if the environment is conducive. There should be a certain level of comfort before any living organism can thrive.
Even if the environment is conducive, prey animals like rabbits tend to “adapt” faster compared to animals higher in the food chain. The need to survive can quickly affect the physical traits of prey animals.
In order to conform to the “breed standards”, physical traits make up almost 90% of the judging criteria for fancy rabbits like the Holland Lop and Netherland Dwarf breeds. And this is where Malaysian bred rabbits fair poorly against the imports. And for the imports, it depends on how fresh they are from the “import oven” and how close they are between landing in the airport and on the show tables.
I have seen pictures taken of Netherland Dwarfs with perfect short ears prior to importation and after 6 months, the same show winning Netherland Dwarfs can look like any regular “mongrel” rabbits here in Malaysia.
I realized that it is not because the ears have grown much longer since arrival but in fact, have lost so much fur that the base of the ears are exposed making them look longer than desired. And because physical traits are judged based on how they look to the naked eye, such “length” can be deemed as a fault.
I can safely say that it is summer all year round for Malaysia and rabbits tend to eat less in warmer climate. Feeding less nutritious pellets can make matters worst as far as flesh condition is concerned because less food intake will only make rabbits look scrawny. I have found that Genesis Ultra Premium pellets helped a lot as compared to all other brands that I have tried so far. The nutrition needed to maintain a reasonable amount of flesh condition can be achieve because of the wholesome nutrition offered by the pellets. But the fact remains the same that rabbits will not be as massive compared to those living in cooler condition where they eat more and put on more mass thus making them look massive.
As for breeding, I have many observations and there are many reasons that I can see affecting the rabbits in this area. I believe cooler temperature does help to a certain extend and bucks can go sterile easily in the heat.
I have learned that if you are going to complain about something, the least you can do is offer solution but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the solution. If heat is the problem, then deal with it. Duh! I am just stating the obvious. If breeding is the problem, then deal with it. There are many alternatives to infertility. You can really do Artificial Insemination and they really have a lot of success with the Pandas. You can also do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) but that is really an insult to the human community because it is such an expensive procedure to be done on RABBITS! And the latest craze is of course hormone injections. OMG, it is just like administering BOTOX!
But do you really want to do that?
My stand with unnatural intervention is very clear. If a rabbit have problems, it only means that the environment is not conducive and unsuitable. Don’t you think that there is something wrong with the picture? “Breed Like Rabbits” is a very valid statement but why don’t certain rabbits breed like rabbits?
And the desperation for fancy breeders to get their rabbits to reproduce is absolutely unbelievable because of the distance they will go to “squeeze” babies out of these imported rabbits. It has come to a point that this hobby is fast becoming questionable. “Passion vs. Greed”, “Return On Investment”, or even “Do They Really Belong Here?”
I think we all really have to pause a little moment to think about life and what is really important here. If you want any animal to thrive naturally, it must be adaptable even if it means losing certain “desired” physical traits.
Can’t we settle for how a rabbit look, naturally?