Rabbits are not what comes to mind when the topic of bucks, does, kits and kindling arises.
Sophie La Prairie remembers writing to a friend and talking about bucks and does. Her friend told her she had been so confused thinking she had pet deer.
Bucks are male rabbits, does are female, kits are babies and kindling is what the babies are called when they are born.
La Prairie and her husband Simon Perreault own Trouble Maker Acres in Lac La Hache. They moved up to the South Cariboo just over a year ago.
“We were just so excited to be here and have land,” she said. “We were like ‘livestock!’”
They thought about what they could get that would be relatively low maintenance while building their cabin. She began to learn about rabbits and saw there were several for sale in the area.
La Prairie had no experience with rabbits when they started the farm but she has learned a lot since then. They started with six Rexs and six New Zealand with the idea of cross-breeding them for meat production for both them and the dogs.
All their rabbits are named after celebrities, a practice that started with their first rabbits.
Three of the original Rexs were brothers, black, broken castor and castor in colouring. Her husband suggested Eddy Murphy, Charlie Murphy and Rick James. The names stuck and La Prairie felt she should continue with the celebrity naming theme.
While the crossbreeds generally produce bigger rabbits for meat she eventually decided to concentrate primarily on purebred rabbits for their fur.
They currently have Rexs, Satins, New Zealands and Champagne d’Argent breeds.
La Prairie said she is selling all her New Zealand rabbits as they have “normal” rabbit fur. This is fine for a lot of things but for her, “the special rabbit fur is more fun,” she said, adding, “Four breeds are a lot.”
The Satins have a recessive trait that makes their fur appear shiny while the Champagne are black underneath with white ticking and feel plushy. The guard hairs on the Rex are the same length as their undercoat making them feel like velvet.
“The Champagnes, it seems almost like they have more hair per square inch because their pelts are just so thick and just really, really plushy. Historically they were really prized for their qualities,” she said.
Knowing the genetics of a rabbit makes it easier when it comes to breeding, knowing what the possible combinations of traits are in potential litters, she said.
The tags on each cage list name, breed, sex, date of birth and colour genetics.
Leonardo DiCaprio and his sister Lucy Lawless are both harlequins. Leo is black and orange while Lucy is white and black.
“So I’m keeping those two. This is a long-term breeding project of mine – to get a harlequin jacket in a Rex fur,” she laughed.
The colour genetics of rabbits isn’t that complicated she said once you get into it but there are a wide range of colour options. The Rex comes in 16 colours alone.
“I really want to make a big patchwork blanket of Rex pelts, all the different colours.”
Uma is one of the original New Zealand rabbits and will be going to her new home in Prince George in October along with the other New Zealands La Prairie owns.
La Prairie said she is happy with how things worked out, connecting with another breeder.
“They were part of my first set of rabbits that I bought. You develop a relationship with your breeding stock and I didn’t feel right just putting an ad up on Kijiji,” she said.