The Squirrel is a rare fur breed that was developed in Scotland in the 1930s. Along with the Smoke Pearl these two breeds are the only ones ever to have been founded in Scotland. In Holland, while the Scottish breed was being established, a Dutch version was also being developed.
It’s a silvered Chinchilla type with a blue coat that’s of medium length and silky and its body type is neat and well rounded. The Squirrel Rabbit is currently only bred in the UK.
The Squirrel is the result of putting together Polish, Chinchilla and Sable Rabbits and was originally bred in Scotland in the 1930s; the same time as the very same breed was being developed independently in Holland.
The Squirrel is a fur breed that’s got a ‘cobby’, well muscled body which would have made a good meat animal had it ever been bred in numbers that could have met demand. Although the Squirrel is a beautiful rabbit, it has never been hugely popular and is considered rare. The Squirrel is only bred in the United Kingdom.
Main colourways: grey ticked with blue and silvered, with a dark, slate blue undercolour
Average weight: 2.5kg
This is a small to medium, compact rabbit which is well-muscled. It’s a fur rabbit that boasts a stunning blue undercoat that’s ticked with grey and is also silvered. The fur is soft and fine, yet incredibly dense. The animal has fine bone which is entirely free of coarseness. The Squirrel has a medium head on a short neck with small ears that are held upright. Does often have a small dewlap.
Much like his foundation breeds, the Squirrel Rabbit is a gentle, docile animal that enjoys the company of people. They are generally quiet and will delight in play – especially with their handler. Cardboard boxes and tubes, and cat toys – particularly those with bells and rattles, will be greatly appreciated.
Most rabbits are relatively intelligent and will respond to simple commands - they may even learn their name in time. They can also be taught to use a litter tray, which is useful if he’s going to live in the house.
All rabbits enjoy the company of their own kind and may become stressed if they are forced to live alone. If you can, it’s worth bringing two rabbits home – a female and a neutered male or a pair of neutered males will get on best. Rabbits will also become stressed and may become aggressive if they are handled incorrectly. Any owner should learn how to pick up their pet properly if they want to avoid injury to themselves or their animal.
Rabbits are by their very nature, delicate creatures, but if their basic needs, in terms of housing, healthcare and nutrition, are met, they can live well beyond five years. As far as healthcare is concerned, there are a number of checks that all owners can carry out, and conditions they should monitor for, that will help keep their pet in rude health.
The teeth of all rodents grow constantly and can cause numerous problems if they’re allowed to get too long. By feeding him a diet that’s high in fibrous vegetables and providing toys and items he can gnaw on, his teeth will be kept worn down. Owners must check their rabbit’s teeth visually at least once a week, as well as giving him the right diet and opportunities to gnaw.
Overgrown molars or enamel spurs can cause injuries to the soft tissues inside the mouth and can cause difficulty eating so symptoms such as weight or appetite loss, sniffles, runny eyes or nose and lethargy can all be signs of dental issues should always be taken seriously as they may be signs of dental problems.
All rabbits must be vaccinated against myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease – both of which are highly contagious and can prove fatal. They should also be treated for fleas, ticks and worms regularly.
The diet of any rabbit should be carefully managed to prevent weight gain. As well as the usual problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, a larger animal will have difficulty grooming and flies can be attracted to soiled fur. If your rabbit is housed outdoors in warm weather and he does have difficulty grooming then flystrike is a possibility.
This distressing condition is caused when flies, attracted by faeces and urine, lay their eggs in the fur of the rabbit. The resulting maggots may bury into the rabbit’s skin, causing open wounds and intense discomfort. What’s more, flystrike may often go undetected for some time as the soiled areas of fur tend to be around the rear end and not immediately obvious. This leaves an affected animal vulnerable to infection, when flystrike may also prove fatal.
Additionally, rabbits should not be housed on mesh floors. Their living quarters must have a solid floor or a resting board should be provided. Mesh flooring can cause the coarse hairs on the back of the feet to wear away, exposing the sensitive skin below, which can also rub. Sore hocks can occur in any rabbit and are extremely uncomfortable.
Caring for a Squirrel
Most breeds of rabbit will live in the house or outdoors quite happily, but wherever he resides he must be given a very secure environment where he can relax completely. If he’s going to be kept in a hutch it should be weather and waterproof and have a cover for the mesh front when the weather turns. The hutch should be lined with hardwood shavings and straw and must also provide a covered area where the rabbit can build his nest. The hutch should be placed in a sheltered area – an airy shed is ideal, but not absolutely necessary, and any living area must be cleaned out thoroughly ever few days.
A house rabbit should be trained to go to the toilet in a litter tray and given a cage or crate where he can retire in total peace. Any cables or wires should be kept out of the way as all rabbits have a tendency to chew these.
Any rabbit’s diet should be made up of good quality hay and rabbit pellets, along with lots of fibrous vegetables, including cabbage, dandelions and kale. He must also have constant access to clean drinking water.