What Are New Zealand White Rabbits?

Learn about New Zealand white rabbits in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

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Rabbits make wonderful pets. If you're thinking of getting one, check out these videos: Actress Amy Sedaris, who is a loving mom to her own pet bunny, helps rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter, Ed.D., LVT answer all your questions about how to take care of a pet rabbit. It's not always easy, but it's worth the work.

 
 

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Speaker 1: So what kind of rabbit is this? Speaker 2: This as a New Zealand white rabbit. Speaker 1: Okay. Speaker 2: These are widely used in research. This rabbit actually came from a laboratory setting and these are what a lot of rescuers will call these rabbits the golden retrievers of the rabbit kingdom. Speaker 1: Oh. Speaker 2: Because their personalities are so . . . they're very gentle. Speaker 1: Oh really? Speaker 2: They're outgoing. They're a lot of fun. They're really, really nice rabbits. Speaker 1: They're fun? Speaker 2: Yet, their adoption rates are often low because people don't like their pink eyes. It's such a shame. I remember years ago when I got my first rabbit, he was a black rabbit with dark brown eyes. Very deep looking, soulful eyes. When I first saw New Zealand whites, I thought, "Ooh, those weird looking eyes." Then I had a New Zealand white in foster care and I fell in love. I've loved the breed ever since. They're just wonderful, wonderful rabbits. We avoid generalizations as much as possible. If you were to make a generalization about this breed, it would be that they have really good outgoing personalities. They're a little bit of a dog, a little bit of a cat. Speaker 1: Really? Speaker 2: Yeah. Speaker 1: I had no idea. When you say laboratory, I think they're not going to be a pet. Speaker 2: Yeah. This rabbit, if you think about what the life of the lab rabbits, it's just really wonderful that this rabbit is now in a home. This rabbit was born in a steel cage. Speaker 1: Aw. Speaker 2: Grew up in this steel cage. Moved from one setting in the steel cage to another setting in the steel cage. Never really got a chance to hop until she was about two years old. Speaker 1: Aw. Speaker 2: That's the first time she was ever out of the steel cage. Sometimes when we first take these rabbits into rescue, they can't use their hind legs very well. They'll try to stand on their hind legs and they'll wobble a little bit because the muscles aren't strong enough. They haven't had the opportunity to exercise. Once they're in the home for a little while and they move around, they develop good, strong hind muscle strength. They're able to do, this is great, They're able to do anything another rabbit could do. Also, once people have had New Zealand whites as pets they tend to look for them again. They're a breed that sells itself. Speaker 1: Really? I had no idea. Speaker 2: Yeah. Speaker 1: That's so good to know. Speaker 2: Lovely, lovely rabbits. Speaker 1: Aw. Speaker 2: If you have it in your heart to give a New Zealand a chance, you will fall in love with ruby eyes instead of being spooked by them. They're really lovely rabbits. Speaker 1: Edgar Winters. Speaker 2: Yep. Look at the way she's sitting with . . . Speaker 1: Yeah. She loves it. She's a sweetie pie. Speaker 2: She is. She's shedding. Whoa. Speaker 1: Yes, she's shedding. Speaker 2: That's New Zealand whites. Try one today.

Expert

  • Mary E. Cotter

    Mary E. Cotter, M.A., Ed.D., LVT is the founder of the NY-based Rabbit Rescue & Rehab. She serves as chapter manager of the NYC House Rabbit Society and is vice president of the International House Rabbit Society. Involved with rabbit rescue since 1982, she speaks and writes frequently on rabbit-related topics, addressing owners, veterinary professionals and shelter workers. Mary is an adjunct assistant professor in the veterinary technology department of LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York) and co-manages a 7,000-member Internet mailing list focused on rabbit health, care and behavior.