Tag Archives: silver marten

How Do You Find Starter Stock?

Asking the right questions is the first step to locating great foundation stock.

Asking the right questions is the first step to locating great foundation stock.

I loved this post over at Rabbit Ranching and got permission from Ms. Cahill to reprint it on Mad Hatter Rabbits. If everyone who contacted us for rabbits followed this advice it would be so awesome! (I have added a few thoughts at the end.)

Q&A Session #2 from Rabbit Ranching by JuliCahill

This is the first part of an ongoing series allowing readers to ask questions about the rabbit hobby. There are no rules or guidelines. Have a question? Ask away! Post your question as a comment on our blog or email oakridgerabbits@gmail.com.

Readers are encouraged to share their own ideas or opinions in the comments below.

What questions should you ask a breeder when choosing “show” foundation stock?

Ah, the age-old question. When you’re starting out with rabbits or starting a new breed, your foundation stock will ideally carry you through the first generations of creating your own line. But it’s easy to get burned by lesser quality animals or fake pedigrees if you’re not sure how to search wisely.

The best place to start is ARBA’s recognized breed page, which can be found HERE.

From this page, you can click on the photo of any currently recognized breed, and it will take you directly to the breed’s specialty club. To my knowledge, every (or at least most) breed clubs post sweepstakes standings on their website. Sweepstakes is a contest based on show wins, and only club members are eligible. Look to see who is at the top of the list and keep those names in mind.

Next, visit the registered breeder directory, which should also be available within the breed club website. Keep in mind that this will only list contact information for breeders who are currently members of their specialty club. ARBA has a more general breeder directory on their website. If you don’t find the name you’re looking for on one, check the other.

I would choose about five names of people local to you (or within the distance you’re willing to travel). There is usually an email or phone number listed for contact.

Now…what to ask? …

How should a newbie, who wants to show their favorite breed, approach a show breeder to purchase stock?

Tell them them exactly what your goals are:

Example: “I want to show and raise Holland Lops.”
Example: “I am looking for two Satins to keep as pets and show locally.”
Example: “I want a pet Dutch.”

The breeder needs to know exactly and directly what you want the rabbits for. If you just email asking, “Could you send me a list of rabbits for sale?” you’ll probably find few who take the time to respond. Everyone has rabbits for sale at some point in time, but they need to know exactly what you’re interested in.

Other information to include:

– The number of rabbits you’re interested in buying.
– The time frame in which you’re looking to buy.
– Your location.

Example: “I would like to start with one buck and two does. I am hoping to find my starting stock this spring, and I’m located in Dallas, TX.”
Example: “I want to find two bucks and three does before September. I’m located in Trenton, NJ.”

This is all of the information specifically needed to get you started, and I recommend leaving the rest up to the breeder. If they have other questions, they will ask. Mentioning other specifics (wild, unusual colors being a common one) not only narrows your search, but also makes most serious breeders question your intentions.

Instead, ask the breeder whether they have rabbits available that meet your criteria. If you are unsure of which color, group, or variety is strongest and most developed – just ask! This is what you will want to start with, and an experienced breeder can guide you directly to it.

So, how do you know you’re speaking with someone reputable?

Ask everyone within your original inquiry – “I am new to this breed. What lines do you recommend working with?”

This is the golden question because it will reveal the authority in the breed of your choice. Like it or not, the success of every breed is strongly influenced by a handful of very dedicated, very successful breeders. They are the names you’ll see over and over again on pedigrees all over the nation. If you ask five breeders this question, you are likely to find out quickly which lines are “go to” in the breed.

If you can (whether they are local or whether you have to arrange transport from a national convention), try to purchase stock directly from those people. If you can’t, try to find someone who has used their rabbits to build their herd.

A name doesn’t mean everything, but it does mean a lot. A reputation is something that’s built by word-of-mouth and personal experience. If people, in significant numbers, speak highly of someone in particular, they are likely to be a trustworthy source. If it’s someone no one has heard of or mentions without prompting, it’s generally not a good starting place.

I could talk more about this topic, but I think I’ll save that for another day. This is where I recommend starting. From there, many reputable breeders will be interested in helping you learn more.


A few thoughts from Mad Hatter:

I completely agree about the recommendation to follow breed sweepstakes… and I don’t. We have six different breeds here and are members of the national clubs of only three. Some national clubs have far too many politics for us to want to get too involved right now… or it just isn’t the right time for us to have many memberships… what not. So, while I believe sweepstakes points are one factor in determining a reputable breeder, I would consider it with other knowledge as well.

Another research option is to check the Domestic Rabbits publication from ARBA for those owners who have Grand Champion rabbits in their breeds.

Being completely clear about your intentions is important! For us, since we raise mostly dual meat/show rabbits this is especially significant around here. If you tell us you are going to show rabbits we will set you up with the best-typed rabbit we can. If you tell us your entire purpose is for meat we won’t put as much emphasis on show promise as your desired outcomes will likely have more to do with production, making weight by a specific age, and mothering abilities than the length of shoulders or whether their body is conformed to the Standard of Perfection!

To Warm a Bunny…

10 just born Silver Marten babies.

10 just born Silver Marten babies.

We woke up this morning to 10 Silver Marten babies! This is great news – but we’re also a little nervous because this is the mama’s first litter.

Proof she’s new to this whole “baby” thing? She didn’t pull fur and had the babies in the nestbox, but not in the hole. This resulted in 10 chilly baby bunnies.

Without even thinking about it for more than a moment, I pulled my first true rabbit breeder move and loaded all 10 of those suckers close to my skin and then went about the rest of the chores. By the time everyone was fed and watered the babies had warmed and we were able to tuck them back into the nestbox.

Because the mama didn’t pull hair, we lined her hole with dryer lint then pulled hair for her. Pulling it from the tummy helps stimulate milk production, but I’ve found it’s easiest to get clumps of hair out of the rabbit’s flank area. (Left to their own devices the doe will pull hair from any part of her body she can reach, specifically her dewlap and tummy.)

As of tonight we have warm babies and a mama who is looking quite skinny now that all those offspring are out of her tummy. Time to enjoy watching them grow!

My name is Brick and I’m a stud.

Dear admiring public,

My name is Brick.

I’m the newest stud around Mad Hatter and, well, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m really quite a catch.


If you look closely here, you’ll see eight pounds of handsome Silver Marten specimen captured in this body, excellent eye rings, great silvering up my sides, and a well-filled haunch. I’m a pretty cool buck.

I came to live in the mountains this weekend with my sweetheart, Bonfire. She’s a great gal, we’ve got a few kits running around. She’s two, which is getting a little old for a lady rabbit, but me, I’m still in my prime!

What I don’t understand is this cute little bun bun I met once I got here. Her name is Peppermint and she’s a fox! Great hair, good silvering, she’s the type of gal I want to spend some quality time with, if you know what I mean. When we met yesterday I thought in my head, “Yeah! I’m gonna get me some of that!”

She rejected me. It’s never happened to me before. I always make a positive impression on the ladies! I don’t know if it’s because of her age or my newness or what, but… but… that girl… she bit me!

peppermint and brick

She must not know my pedigree. She must not have heard of my winnings at the shows. She must be naive.

This simply cannot be. I demand an opportunity to pursue my romantic inclinations again! I have a purpose in life and that purpose is to procreate! Bonfire is not enough for me, I need Peppermint to complete my reputation!

I don’t know where this leaves me. I hope I’ll be singing a different tune in the next 24 hours. I cannot be beaten by a sassy young thing named Peppermint. It must not happen.


The Brick, a.k.a. Stud Muffin

Show Offs

This weekend we traveled to Tucson for our first show.

We’ve never really considered ourselves “show people,” although I’m not sure we ever really defined the “show” stereotype. (I believe my perception was vaguely informed by watching the movie Best in Show. I loved the movie but also though it was a train wreck of people who were completely obsessed.)

With that in mind, I was highly interested to visit the rabbit show circuit!

The SARBA show was a full day, 8 a.m. to a bit after 5 p.m., and offered six shows, three youth and three open. (Here’s a great list of the vocabulary and things you’ll encounter at a rabbit show.) I don’t know the exact number of rabbits entered but… it was a lot!

Some people had rabbits for sale, some set up shop to tattoo rabbit ears, others had little tables available and grooming tools. Overall it was an amazing cross-section of humanity, all brought together by love of the lagomorphs!

The showing itself was ridiculously easy – you simply brought your rabbit to the table and placed them in the little box in the right order! The judges were incredible about giving concise comments on each rabbit, and by leaning in and listening carefully we were able to learn an enormous amount about our breeds and what a judge looks for in the comparison process.

It was also amazingly useful to lay eyes on the various types of colorings and breeds of rabbits. Even though I’ve been online and read a ton of books about rabbits, seeing is believing. I have a much better understanding of coloring, temperament, and type after one little day spent at the rabbit show.

Our rabbits did reasonably well. We discovered there is a difference between having a “show quality” rabbit and a “showable” rabbit! Our Silver Martens performed the best of the rabbits we took, winning Best of Variety, Best Opposite Variety, and Best of Breed. Most importantly, we have a clear direction of where we’re going with our breeding program in the future.

We loved our show experience and are very grateful to SARBA for sponsoring the show and making it available to us! I’d recommend anyone give it a shot! I think you, like us, will discover you’re looking forward to your next time to get together!

Meet Peppermint

Peppermint is a beautiful black Silver Marten doe. Her coloring is lovely and she has a sweet, gentle personality.

Meet Joey

Joey, Silver Marten doe


This Joey, one of our Silver Marten does. She’s a little grubby n this photo from playing in her playpen! She’s curious and funny.

Silver Marten Rabbits

Silver Martens are recognized by their silver-tipped fur.

Known for his cute expressions, unique coloring and charming personality, the Silver Marten breed of rabbit has been a favorite for nearly a century!
The Silver Marten HistoryThe Silver Marten breed of rabbit was originally a naturally-occurring mutation in the coats of Chinchilla-colored rabbits. Some say these strangely-marked little black rabbits occurred early on, while others say it was the cross-breeding of Black and Tan bloodlines that created the Silver Marten. According to the Silver Marten Club, these mismarked Chinchillas occurred on their own, but that the Black and Tan was later introduced, in an attempt to improve the clarity of color and markings on these bunnies. This seems a logical explanation, particularly when one sees the similarity between the Silver Marten and Black and Tan markings.It was in 1924 that the Silver Marten rabbit was finally given his name and, by 1927, they had developed a working standard for the black and chocolate Silver Marten. These were accepted by ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) and the first breed club came into being. A third variety, the blue, was accepted in 1933 and sixty years later, in 1993, the sable silver was approved. Silver Marten rabbits can also be found in lilac – a light dove gray – but the color is not registerable at this point in time.

The Silver Marten Breed Description

A compact breed, the Silver Marten rabbit usually weighs in between 6.5 and 8.5 pounds as a senior (a mature adult, 6 mos. or older). Their ears are held upright and are of a medium thickness with good length. The Silver Marten’s eyes are alert and bright, and should compliment their variety – the darker shades having dark brown eyes and the diluted shades having blue-gray eyes.

The body of the Silver Marten is firm without being bulky and should be well rounded from the shoulders and up over the hips, having an almost half-moon appearance when properly posed. Their hips are well-developed and should not pinch in at the table. They often have a muscular look that makes them seem larger than what they actually are.

The Silver Marten comes in 4 recognized varieties: the black, the blue, chocolate and sable. All possess the same characteristic white around the eyes and nose, inside the ears, the underside of the rabbit and the light silvering along the sides. The lilac, a dilution of the chocolate Marten genes, often occurs in the breed. This color is not accepted in the breed standard, however, though these bunnies do make fantastic pets.

The Silver Marten Personality

The Silver Marten is known for being a charming little clown and terribly curious. They can, however, be a bit on the skittish side and startle easily – for this reason, one may look for a calmer breed if they are looking for a first bunny for a younger child. They are a delightful companion for older children and adults though, and their markings give them a cute appearance that few can deny.

Silver Marten rabbits, like most other breeds, are notorious chewers. If you are intending to have a bunny as a house pet, be forewarned that you will definitely have to “bunny-proof” your house. This means getting down on the floor and looking at anything and everything that could possibly chewed. Some examples of tasty treats, that bunnies love (and that will have you pulling your hair out about) include wood furniture legs, electrical cords, stereo/DVD/computer wiring, or important papers. Don’t ask me how they know what papers are the important ones, but they do…and they will chew them (or leave bunny tracks on them), if you leave them within reach. Fortunately, products like Bitter Apple are available to help discourage chewing, but the best discouragement is keeping things out of reach.

Silver Martens can be litter trained, like most other breeds, though they will usually leave a few bunny tracks around the house. These are NOT to be mistaken for Coco Puffs cereal and just require a little sweep or vacuuming to clean them up.


Personal experience breeding and showing rabbits

http://www.silvermarten.com/ – The Silver Marten Rabbit Club

American Rabbit Breeders Association


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