Here's an amazing anomaly . . .
You've no doubt heard about hairless dogs (to date I think there are at least five hairless breeds), as well as other hairless animals such as rats, chickens, cats or cavies.
. . . BUT have you ever seen a hairless bunny rabbit?
What you see is real - no trick photography, nor has the bun been shaved or artificially modified! I first came across this rare phenomenon in December 2005. A local breeder contacted me about having accidentally bred this amazing little character found amongst a normal litter of Mini Rex.
Considering she was inbred (accidental brother, sister mating) we can presume intensifying the result of a genetic mutation. It's also interesting that her mother produced a kit occasionally in previous litters with a bald patch on its forehead. In maturity however these oddballs grew fur over the bald area.
Since she has an uncanny resemblance to a Kangaroo her breeder nicknamed her 'Little Roo'. From the onset the hairless kit struggled to thrive and if her more robust sister hadn't been removed from the nest and fostered to another doe she may not have survived. Her sister is quite normal and is a lovely Sussex colour. Even though Roo has tufts of fur on her muzzle and around her eyes, for obvious reasons her colour is too difficult to determine. Nevertheless the naked four week old is here to captivate and enthral us with her amazingly bizarre appearance.
Two weeks later – Little Roo grew some patches of fur and looked as if she'd only be temporarily hairless.
Postscript: unfortunately I have to report a sad ending . . .
Roo failed to thrive and grow as a normal kitten and continued to lose condition several weeks after photos were taken. She continued to eat but was noticeably drinking more than average consumption of water. Then one morning Roo was found deceased – just as if she had gone to sleep and never woke up.
Hairlessness is known to be caused by a recessive mutation and is usually fatal. Although it was hoped that she would manage to survive no one could have prevented the predestined fate of sweet little Roo.
Explore more 'hairless' experiences
Message received some years ago: l thought you might like to see a pic of my rabbit called Clifford . . . he's nearly six weeks old and has lived with his mum and seven siblings since he was born. He seems to sandwich himself between the others to keep warm. Eats like a little horse . . . he's very cute!! Jan.
My reply: Hi Jan, Thanks heaps for your amazing photos and info about Clifford! How is he now, fully furred or still a bit different from the rest? Does he reside in Australia or in another country? All the best and big hugs to your sooky baby and the others! Cheerio, Christine
"Clifford is doing well . . . she as it turns out is still 90% furless! Clifford lives in Melbourne and is now an inside rabbit – being a little delicate in the heat. I nearly lost Clifford two weeks ago due to massive dehydration and a possible stomach bug. We syringe fed her for a couple of days on a rehydration liquid and she now seems much better! Jan & Cliffordette
(Unfortunately lost contact with owner to find out what eventuated with this particular hairless kit)
Received September 2012 from a NSW breeder
I was reading about hairless rabbits on your website a couple of days ago and then today I had a look at my ‘mutant’ babies and guess what???? I’m sure one of them is hairless – the one I thought was going to have curly hair, it’s actually bald! So, I’m not sure what to make of it, I feel quiet sorry for it, its sooo ugly, but I’m also concerned for it as noted, they rarely survive. It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of the poor little alien creature. We have named the alien, Skippy.
Here is a photo of what I discovered in the nest box. I have looked at them every couple of days since birth but just thought two were smaller than the others. Now I’ve seen them in the harsh light of day and it’s not a pretty sight!
I also think I have one, not so pretty Plush Lop, its fur began to fall out and oddly has regrown. They must be 20-21 days old now and are all doing well.
The one that looks like a ‘Rex’ has lopped ears, it lost all its fur and has started growing back a kind of feathery coat, it kind of looks like a half plucked chook at the moment. I guess this will be the ‘Plush Lop’, I actually feel quiet sad that someone would do something so bizarre on purpose.
Background history: The owner bought a chocolate butterfly doe (from another NSW breeder), which for all intents and purposes looked just like a Mini Lop. Pedigree papers were not provided and when mated to her buck they had no idea what they were going to experience. Needless to say the family were devastated when both kits died - particularly the children, as they were really attached to their very special 'alien' bunnies.
Received from Sarah Giers a US breeder (with thanks and appreciation) for granting permission to include more fascinating info . . .
"It is the fur less gene at work. It tends to appear more commonly in rex coated breeds, which is where I got it. Rabbits that carry the gene often display a bald patch on the forehead (or elsewhere, though normally on the forehead). That bald patch usually grows in as the rabbit gets older, but it is a good indicator that the rabbit carries the fur less gene. If a baby gets two fur less genes, it will look like the bald one in the picture (or sometimes it will be even more bald). There are actually a variety of bald rabbits that were developed for use in warm countries as a meat rabbit.
The genetics are reasonably well understood. A rabbit with no fur less gene (FF) will be totally normal. A rabbit with one fur less gene (Ff) will often display some balding as a baby, but that will usually grow in. Not all will display any balding. A rabbit with two fur less genes (ff) will be mostly or completely bald. In my experience the ff babies do seem to be rather weak and die, The Ff babies can sometimes be a little weaker, and they tend to need a little extra care, but once they reach about 4 weeks, they are fine. However, if a whole line of ff babies was developed, there must be stronger lines of fur less rabbits. I cannot imagine that it would be of any use to create a whole variety of fur less meat rabbits if the babies were so fragile."
New case story - daring to be different Mr Bigglesworth!
It’s extremely heartwarming to know that there’s at least one bunny managing to survive a potentially ‘fatal’ gene. This particularly special Rex rabbit was born on the 30th June 2017 and to this day is continuing to thrive in his much loved home Wodonga, Victoria.
Mr Bigglesworth has most deservedly become famous in his own right, appearing in news media and his own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mrbigglesworththebunny/
As well as happily showing off his naked glory in YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq3uItHAw7rD0bT76QWfg3w/videos
And oh my goodness you can even buy his products (calendars, coffee mugs, cushions, tee-shirts, posters etc) with lovely captions such as “What makes you different makes you beautiful” or “Be your own kind of beautiful” https://www.mrbigglesworththebunny.com/store