Best known for its striking coat colors the Harlequin rabbit is one of the oldest breeds of rabbits. While the Harlequin rabbit breed is mostly bred as a show bunny, they can also be kept as companion pets.
Do Harlequin rabbits make good pets? Harlequin rabbits make great pets for people of all ages and also get along nicely with children. Good-natured, friendly, and docile, Harlequin rabbits like to interact with their owners and spend time with their human families. These adorable rabbits also like to play and be petted.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Harlequin rabbit breed and help you decide if this bunny is the right fit for your family!
What Is Harlequin Rabbit?
Nicknamed the “clown of the rabbits” this breed of rabbit is best known for its stunning coat coloration and markings. In fact, the unusual body markings are the reason why the Harlequin breed of rabbit got its nickname in the first place.
Unlike most other breeds of rabbits, the entire Harlequin rabbit breed is based on coat coloration and markings instead of body type and fur. While typically bred for rabbit shows, Harlequin rabbits make affectionate pets and companions.
Harlequin Rabbit History and Origin
The Harlequin rabbit breed was first exhibited in the 1880s in France. This breed was developed by breeding semi-wild Tortoiseshell Dutch rabbits with truly wild rabbits.
Shortly after their debut, Harlequin rabbits were imported to England where this breed become a popular show animal due to distinctive body markings and coloration.
Originally known as Japanese rabbit, the breed’s name was changed into Harlequin rabbit during World War II.
Despite being one of the oldest breeds, it wasn’t until the 1920s that the Harlequin rabbit was officially recognized in the United States.
Nowadays, the Harlequin breed is recognized both by the American Rabbit Breeders Association and the British Rabbit Council.
Types of Harlequin Rabbit
There are two types of Harlequin rabbits – Japanese Harlequin rabbits and Magpie Harlequin rabbits. The biggest difference between these two types is in coat coloration.
Japanese Harlequin Rabbits
Japanese Harlequin rabbits are orange and either black, blue, chocolate, or lilac in color. Most have orange bellies and the markings can come in one of these colors.
Magpie Harlequin Rabbits
The Magpie Harlequin rabbit, on the other hand, are white instead of orange and can have black, blue, chocolate, or lilac markings. Magpie Harlequins usually have white bellies and their body markings come either in bands, bars, or a combination of two, the same as in Japanese Harlequins.
Characteristics of Harlequin Rabbit
The Harlequin rabbit is a rather unique bunny breed thanks to its striking coat colors and body markings. These traits make them a popular breed for showing and they really stand out in the crowd.
Size, Weight, Shape
The Harlequin rabbit is a medium to large size breed of rabbit that typically weighs between 6.5 to 9.5 pounds. This breed has a commercial body type with a round-shaped head and medium length-erect ears.
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of Harlequin rabbits that come with distinctive coat colors.
Japanese Harlequin rabbits are usually orange combined with either black, blue, chocolate, or lilac. On the other hand, Magpie Harlequin rabbits are generally white combined with either blue, black, chocolate, or lilac.
Both types can have either bars, bands, or a combination of both as color markings. However, the thing that makes Harlequin rabbits really stand out is the three-part frontal alteration.
In order to qualify for the American Rabbit Breeders Association Standard of Perfection, Harlequin rabbits must have an even mix of both colors and ideally have a half-and-half coloration on the head (source).
This means that their ears have to be of a different color, the face also has to have different colors, and they must alternate with the ears. Furthermore, hind feet and the chest must also be of two different colors.
Harlequin rabbits have a short, dense, and soft coat that is easy to groom and doesn’t require much maintenance. Shedding is also minimal and you’ll only need to brush your rabbit once a week with a wire bristled brush to remove loose hairs and dirt.
The Harlequin rabbit has an average lifespan of five to eight years which is a slightly shorter life expectancy when compared to other breeds of rabbit.
Curious and outgoing by nature, Harlequin rabbits like to explore and will happily hop around your house sniffing around and scouting their surroundings. Expect your pet rabbit to keep you on your toes and be an endless source of fun and entertainment.
With that being said, these good-natured rabbits also love to spend time and interact with their owners, and will appreciate being petted and stroked on the head. And although bigger in size, Harlequin rabbits get along well with children.
Nevertheless, you should supervise your kids while they are playing with your rabbit to avoid accidents and injuries on both sides.
While rabbits are much harder to litter train than cats and dogs, you can teach your Harlequin rabbit how to use a litter box with a little time and patience. To make things easier for your bunny consider placing five or six litter boxes around the house so your Harlequin bunny can go potty wherever they like (source).
Harlequin Rabbit Care
Like all other breeds of rabbits, the Harlequin rabbit needs a dedicated owner who will have the time and money necessary for taking care of a show or pet rabbit.
Harlequin rabbits need a spacious enclosure where they will spend some time sleeping and eating. You can keep your rabbit both indoors and outdoors, just make sure that they have enough space to move around, stretch, and live comfortably inside the enclosure.
Make sure to keep your rabbit’s enclosure clean, by spot cleaning their bedding once a day, and removing it completely once a week.
Like all other breeds of rabbits, the Harlequin bunny also needs a diet that consists of 70 percent hay. The remaining 30 percent should consist of a mix of fruit, vegetables, and pallets that contain all the essential nutrients your rabbit needs (source).
Harlequin Rabbit Health
The Harlequin rabbit is considered a healthy breed and doesn’t have any known breed-specific health problems. However, they are susceptible to common rabbit problems, such as overgrown teeth or flystrike.
Since their teeth continue to grow during their whole lives, dental problems are commonly seen in all breeds of rabbits. Feeding your pet rabbit, a diet rich in hay is the best and easiest way to prevent painfully overgrown, and ingrown teeth.
Eating hay will naturally file your rabbit’s teeth thus ensuring that they don’t grow into their mouth and jaws. Inspect your rabbit’s mouth and teeth weekly to avoid any issues and if anything seems suspicious take your pet to the vet.
As with any other rabbit, you should also trim or file your rabbit’s nails regularly to keep them nice and short. Keeping the nails short will prevent your rabbit from accidentally injuring themselves or the person that is holding them in a lap.
Use sharp nail clippers to trim your rabbit’s nail at home, making sure that you don’t injure the quick. Or, take your Harlequin rabbit to the vet if you’re afraid of trimming their nails at home.
Where to Get Harlequin Rabbit Breed?
Whether you want to buy a Harlequin rabbit as a pet or show animal, look for a reputable breeder. Make sure that the breeder is raising only captive-bred Harlequin rabbits without any type of genetic health problems.
The Harlequin rabbit is a popular show animal so you shouldn’t have trouble locating a reputable breeder in your area. You can also find Harlequin rabbits on trade fairs, shows, and contests that showcase the breed’s stunning coat and body markings.
Harlequin Rabbit Price
On average, Harlequin rabbits cost between $20 and $100 depending on whether they are show or pet quality rabbits. Keep in mind, the exact price of a Harlequin rabbit will depend on a breeder, coat color, quality of markings, and the pedigree of the rabbit.
The Harlequin rabbit is a medium to large-sized bunny known for its unique appearance and stinking coat color and markings. Although mostly bred as show animals, Harlequin rabbits make great pets and companions to people of all ages and families with children.
Good-natured, playful, curious, and smart, Harlequin rabbits like to explore and interact with their families. Happy to play with children and entertain you with silly antics, this rabbit will also love to be petted while sitting in your lap.