Rex Rabbit

Catherine Gose, CVT
By Catherine Gose, CVT. Reviewed by Laurie Hess, DVM, DABVP on Oct. 26, 2023
Rex rabbit

In This Article

General Care

Rex rabbits are medium-sized rabbits with an average weight of 7.5–10.5 pounds. They have a broad head, upright ears, strong legs, extraordinarily soft fur, and curly whiskers. Rex rabbits typically live six to eight years and are known to be docile and friendly. The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) currently recognizes 16 different color varieties.

Rex rabbits originated in France in the early 1900s, where they were referred to as “The King's Rabbits” because of their luxurious fur. They were first shown publicly at the Paris International Rabbit Show in 1924. This is where American rabbit breeders John C. Fehr and Alfred Zimmerman discovered the breed and then brought the Rex rabbit to the U.S. Originally valued for meat production and for their velvety fur, Rex rabbits have since become wonderful family pets.

Caring for a Rex Rabbit

Known to be friendly and patient, Rex bunnies are great family pets, even in homes with children, as long as kids are supervised. They have very strong legs and may kick or scratch if they feel frightened or insecure, so everyone in the house must understand careful and calm handling. Rex rabbits are highly social animals, so some may enjoy the company of another rabbit for their comfort and security.

Rex rabbits can live indoors or outdoors—as long as an outdoor hutch is protected from predators and the weather. They can tolerate cooler temperatures but do need to be sheltered from wind and rain. Because of their thick fur, they need to be kept indoors during warmer months to avoid overheating.

Rex Rabbit Health Issues

As a prey species, rabbits instinctively hide signs of illness so they don't appear weak to predators. For pet rabbits, this often results in disease being fairly advanced by the time a pet parent notices obvious signs of illness. Therefore, it is very important to pay close attention to your rabbit's daily habits and take notice when changes occur.

Sore Hocks

As a medium-sized rabbit with a robust and round body, Rex rabbits may be at higher risk than smaller rabbits to developing sores on the underside of their large back feet. To avoid this, ensure the floor of your rabbit’s hutch is not completely made of wire mesh; a solid,smooth but easily cleaned surface where rabbits can get off the mesh is critical. Padding the floor with adequate bedding and keeping the cage clean will help reduce the risk of sore hock infections, as well.

GI Stasis

Rabbits have sensitive digestive tract that relies on a healthy population of normal bacteria to maintain normal gastrointestinal (GI) motility. A healthy rabbit grazes throughout the day and night, producing regular stool pellets and cecotropes (night stools that the rabbit consumes).

If you notice your rabbit is not eating well or is producing fewer fecal pellets, this could indicate GI stasis (a slowing down of normal GI tract motility commonly due to an alteration of normal GI bacteria). If your rabbit is eating less or passing less stool, seek immediate veterinary care. Your bunny may need supportive care (including syringe feeding, fluid injections under their skin, and pain relief) until they start eating on their own again. GI stasis is a life-threatening condition, and early treatment is vital to a rabbit's recovery.


Rabbits like to be clean and groom themselves constantly, ingesting hair as they do so. Even though Rex rabbits lack the longer hairs that other breeds have (a characteristic that gives them such velvety fur), like other rabbits, they occasionally still experience hairball blockages of their GI tracts if they ingest excess hair.

Hairballs in rabbits can cause critical GI stasis, so it's important to brush your rabbit’s coat often to lessen hair ingestion, and help maintain normal GI tract motility by feeding  plenty of fiberto ensure your rabbit has a healthy digestive system.  


Ear mites: Microscopic parasites that live on wax and debris within the ear, ear mites can cause severe irritation, itching, and infection. They are commonly noticed by the thick crusts and scabs they form inside the outer ear. A veterinarian can confirm a diagnosis of ear mites by seeing mites in the ear crust under a microscope. Attempting to remove these scabs on the ears can be very painful to rabbits and should not be performed. Instead, the crusts will fall off once treated with appropriate prescription medication. Over-the-counter medication is ineffective in the treatment of rabbit ear mites. Affected rabbits’ environments must be thoroughly disinfected with dilute bleach (throwing away all porous materials, such as wood, which cannot be disinfected) to prevent reinfection.

Cheyletiella: Also known as “walking dandruff,” Cheyletiella mites can live on a rabbit's skin. This is a very itchy condition, and many Rex rabbits develop secondary skin infections and sores from self-trauma caused by scratching and biting at themselves. Veterinary care is needed to get rid of the parasites and treat any secondary infections. This condition can also infect people. If your rabbit has been diagnosed with Cheyletiella, the cage and accessories need to be cleaned and disinfected with a dilute bleach solution. Any porous items like wood chew toys or shelters should be thrown away, and all blankets washed in hot, soapy water.  

Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi): All rabbits are susceptible to E. cuniculi, which is an intracellular parasite that attacks the nervous system and also causes kidney damage. General signs of illness in rabbits are lack of appetite and stool production, and the rabbit may become lethargic. Additionally, rabbits with E. cuniculi will also show neurological signs such as a head tilt, appearing unsteady or off balance, and some may become partially paralyzed. With early intervention, treatment may be attempted with prescription dewormers, anti-inflammatory medications, and nutritional support. Rabbits showing advanced signs of the disease may require hospitalization, and rabbits may suffer permanent neurological damage if they survive.

Dental Problems

Unlike people, cats, and dogs, a rabbit's teeth continue to grow throughout their lives at a rate of about 3 inches every year. Wild rabbits keep their teeth ground down by constantly chewing and eating roughage, so it’s important that a pet rabbit mimics this as much as possible.

If a rabbit’s teeth are overgrown, sharp points can cause injuries to the tongue and cheeks. This can be painful and even cause infections. If you notice your rabbit is drooling, pawing at the face, not eating, or if there are sores or swelling visible on the face, visit your veterinarian.  

The vet will sedate your rabbit to trim or file the teeth so your bunny can chew comfortably again. X-rays can also be taken of the skull and the teeth to look for abscesses (pockets of infection) below the gumline. If evidence of a tooth root abscess is found, then the rabbit will need to be anesthetized so the affected teeth can be surgically extracted and the abscess removed.   

Providing unlimited hay and appropriate chew toys such as the Oxbow Enriched Life Shake, Rattle & Roll Small Animal Chew Toy or the SunGrow Coconut Fiber Rabbit & Guinea Pigs Chew & Exercise Balls Teeth Grinding Treat will help avoid dental problems in a rabbit.

What To Feed a Rex Rabbit

Hay: Rabbits need to eat all day long to keep their digestive system healthy. Offer a pile of fresh hay that is roughly the same size as your rabbit's body at least twice a day (or more, if they will eat it!).  

Fresh Greens: Rabbits enjoy dark leafy greens, including:

  • Fennel

  • Arugula

  • Romain

  • Boston bibb

  • Radicchio

  • Butter lettuce

  • Greens found on carrot tops

  • A variety fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint, parsley)

Offer about 1 cup of greens per 2 pounds of rabbit every day. Avoid overfeeding high-calcium greens (such as parsley, spinach, and kale) that can contribute to the development of calcium-based bladder stones.

Vegetables: Rabbits need vegetables, as well, but in smaller quantities. The general daily guideline is about 1 tablespoon of vegetables per 2 pounds of bodyweight. Daily vegetable options may include Brussel’s sprouts, bell peppers, and zucchini. While carrot tops can be fed daily, carrots contain high levels of sugar that can upset normal GI tract bacteria and may contribute to the development of GI stasis. Therefore, they should be offered only occasionally. Broccoli, too, can cause gas when fed in excess, so it should be offered only a couple of times per week.

Fruits: Fruit is fed sparingly, as too much in a rabbit's diet can upset their sensitive digestive system and cause diarrhea. Typically, a rabbit can have 1–2 tablespoons of fruit per 5 pounds of body weight once or twice a week.

Pellets: Pellets are essential to a Rex rabbit’s diet. Pellets are fed in small quantities daily and provide important nutrients and minerals to keep a rabbit strong and healthy. On average, a rabbit should eat about ¼ cup of pellets per 4–5 pounds of body weight per day.

Treats: Treats should be given sparingly, and high-fat or high-sugar treats should be avoided. Instead, consider Oxbow's line of fiber rich rabbit treats as a healthier alternative, including Oxbow Simple Rewards Oven Baked with Bell Pepper Small Animal Treats and Oxbow Enriched Life Apple Timothy Lollipop Small Pet Chew Toy.

Water: A constant source of fresh, clean water is needed to keep your bunny healthy. Water bottles are recommended over water bowls to avoid contamination from food or soiled bedding.

Rex Rabbit Temperament and Behavior

Patient, good-natured, and docile are just a few words used to describe a Rex rabbit's personality.  Rex rabbits are known to be one of the friendliest pet rabbit breeds. A Rex rabbit may not enjoy being picked up and held but will generally gladly come to you to play games and to cuddle.

Rabbits, in general, are very intelligent, and the Rex is no exception. Most Rex rabbits can be litter trained and will also learn basic commands, like to come when their name is called.  

Although they are strong and athletic, Rex rabbits overall have a low to moderate activity level in comparison with some other breeds. They still need adequate exercise and should spend at least three to four supervised hours outside of their hutch every day to jump, play, explore, and release excess energy.

Rex Rabbit Grooming Guide

All rabbits shed, but Rex rabbits lack the longer guard hairs that other breeds have. Because of this, they generally shed less and don't typically require as much grooming as several other rabbit breeds with longer hair. Brushing one to two times a week is usually sufficient to maintain a Rex’s lustrous fur.

Toe nails need to be trimmed every four to six weeks using an appropriate small animal nail clipper. Rabbits’ ears also should be checked regularly for dirt, debris, and wax build-up and cleaned, when needed, with a rabbit-safe ear cleaner and under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Rex rabbits typically make great family pets because they are laid-back, friendly, and have minimal grooming needs. They do require lots of socialization and interactive playtime for exercise and mental stimulation. With such high social needs, Rex rabbits may do best with a companion rabbit.

Rex Rabbit FAQs

Is a Rex rabbit a good pet?

With a proper diet, housing, and environment, Rex rabbits can be wonderful pets for both experienced and beginner rabbit parents.

Are Rex rabbits hard to take care of?

In comparison with some other rabbit breeds, Rex rabbits are fairly easy to care for. They need a high-fiber diet, routine grooming, and plenty of playtime and social interaction.

Are Rex rabbits cuddly?

Yes! It is important to always respect a rabbit's boundaries and use careful handling techniques. This is fairly easy to do with Rex bunnies, as most are laid back and love to come to their family members and cuddle.

Are Rex rabbits easy to train?

Rabbits are known to be intelligent and clever, but a Rex rabbit's good-natured personality and eagerness to please may make them even easier to train than other more skittish rabbit breeds.

Featured Image: Mary Swift/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Catherine Gose, CVT


Catherine Gose, CVT

Veterinarian Technician

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