The Smoke Pearl is a rabbit that was originally bred for the fur trade and boasts a soft, thick, luxurious smokey blue or brown coat that’s the envy of many breeders across the globe.
The main reason that the Smoke Pearl is popular with those that breed them is because of their unique personality. This is one laid-back bunny. They adore attention and crave the company of people. They love nothing more than being stroked and cuddled and they are also able to bond quickly with other Smoke Pearls, and many breeders have no difficulty keeping same sex groups together.
Unfortunately Smoke Pearls are a very rare breed and are only found in their country of origin – the UK, Australia and one or two European countries.
First seen in the showring in 1926, the Smoke Pearl was developed by Mr Lawrie Stenhouse in Scotland and is one of only two breeds to have been truly Scottish. The other breed being the Squirrel, which is sadly now extinct. Mr Stenhouse was initially a breeder of Beverens, Chinchillas and Sables and it’s unclear whether the Smoke Pearl was the result of breeding dilute sables, or if Mr Stenhouse crossed his Blue Beverens and Sables to produce the beautiful Smoke Pearl.
It was first shown in the mid 1920s as the Smoke Beige, but the name was changed to the more attractive Smoke Pearl in 1932, when it was accepted by the British Fur Rabbit Society. There are few records of the breed after this time and many experts believe it either died out, or never found popularity outside its native Scotland.
A decade later, Smoke Pearls began to make appearances in litters of Sable Rabbits in the Midlands. This time however, the breeders were determined to make a success of the breed and lobbied for the Smoke to be accepted by the newly formed show society. Finally, in 1945, a national club was formed and the Smoke Pearl began to increase in popularity.
Main colourways: light pearl grey, beige or blue
Average weight: 2.3 – 3.1kg
This is a small to medium sized rabbit that has a dense, soft coat that combines smokey points, with a pale saddle area and white guard hairs giving the impression of a very light underside. Because the fur is so thick the Smoke Pearl has a very ‘cuddly’ appearance, which is good because they love affection!
This is a very ‘neat’, well muscled rabbit that has a slight arch to the back and carries its tail in a straight line. The legs are feet are straight and true, with medium bone and the animal has a head that’s longer than it is square.
The ears are short and held upright. They must be well furred and free of white ticking and the eyes are bold and bright with a red ‘glow’.
The Smoke Pearl is well known for having an outstanding temperament. If you are looking for a rabbit as the first pet for a child, or you’re looking to start a rabbitry of your own, the Smoke Pearl is an excellent choice for a beginner.
This breed craves human company and adores playtime. They love being picked up – as long as the handler knows how to do it properly - and they also like being stroked and petted. Their laid-back attitude and affectionate demeanour mean they are well loved by their breeders and despite being rare and quite hard to find, the Smoke Pearl is well worth seeking out of you are thinking of acquiring a rabbit.
Smoke Pearl Health
Although most hybrid rabbits are relatively hardy and free from hereditary diseases, all rabbits are delicate creatures that can suffer if they are not cared for properly. The teeth are probably the most important area to monitor for any owner. Because they grow constantly, they must be kept worn down with gnaw toys and a high fibre diet. They should be monitored closely in order to avoid overgrown molars or enamel spurs which can cause difficulty eating and injuries in the mouth.
Rabbits should always be protected from extreme fluctuations in temperature or dusty and polluted atmospheres as they can easily develop respiratory infections. They should also be prevented from becoming overweight as obese animals cannot groom themselves properly and may then be vulnerable to flystrike.
A rabbit should not be housed anywhere with a mesh floor as this can cause sore hocks, and all rabbits should be vaccinated against myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. They should also be treated regularly for fleas, ticks and worms. Non-breeding does can be spayed in order to prevent uterine cancer, which is common in rabbits.
Caring for a Smoke Pearl
If the rabbit is to live outdoors his hutch should be completely weatherproof and positioned in a sheltered spot. If a light, spacious shed is available this would be ideal. The hutch should be big enough for him to hop around and stand up on his hind legs. It should be lined with shavings and straw and should have a covered nesting area.
Whether he’s going to live in a hutch or the house, he should have regular access to the garden either in a secured area or a run, so he can run and explore.
If he’s going to live indoors he can be trained to use a litter tray and he must be provided with a secure area such as a crate or cage where he can get out of the way and relax. All cables and wires should be kept out of his way or he will chew them.
His diet should consist of high quality pellets and hay, along with lots of fibrous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, dandelions and carrot tops. He must always have access to fresh clean drinking water.