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The Silver rabbit is one of the most ancient breeds of domestic rabbit. Its true origin will never be known, but it is likely that a rabbit with silver hairs appeared as a black sport (mutant) of the European wild rabbit hundreds of years ago. Historians say that the Silver rabbit was first found in large numbers in Siam, and that sailors brought them to Portugal where the breed spread to England and Europe. An early reference is made to the fact that Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) introduced Silver Grey rabbits to the Nappa warren at Askrigg in north Yorkshire. From there, Silver Greys spread to a number of other warrens throughout England, with the greatest stronghold being in Lincolnshire. It should be noted that Sir Walter Raleigh did sail to Portugal in 1592 and brought goods back to England. Silver Greys were certainly well represented in England by 1631 as Gervaise Markham, writes of them in his A Way To Wealth - The English Hus-wife. On May 13, 1778 when a fleet of 11 ships left Portsmouth, England under the command of Captain Arthur Philip to colonize Australia, there were, among other livestock, 5 rabbits that surely were Silver Greys. It took but half a century before Silver rabbits were found in abundance in both Australia and New Zealand. Silvers have been known under many names: Millers, Silver Sprigs, Lincoln Silver, Lincolnshire Silver-Grey, and Riche (French for valuable). Large numbers of skins were imported into China for a particular class of mandarins, and the fur was highly prized by royalty in Russia.
It is not known exactly when the Silver arrived in the United States. They were in America at the time of the great Belgian Hare boom during the late 1890’s. All three Silver varieties - Grey, Brown, and Fawn - were recognized into the first book of standards. A number of years later, the Grey variety was renamed Black. Although rare today on both sides of the Atlantic, only in the United Kingdom and the United States is the original type of Silver being bred. Silver is considered a small to medium-sized breed of rabbit. Mature weight is 4 to 7 pounds, and they have a very tight and snappy coat. There should be an even distribution of silvering over the entire body, including the head, ears, feet, and tail. Silver is a hardy breed that is a seasonal breeder (Spring and Fall). Litter size is around 3 to 6, and they can be considered only fair mothers. Silvers are active but non-aggressive rabbits, and are easily kept in all wire cages. They may, however, be better suited to being bred in free-range systems (colonies or warrens), as they were kept some two centuries ago.
Status: See CPL