San Juan Rabbits: Characteristics & Care

San Juan rabbits are a breed for the lovers of the wild bunny look. Like the cottontail rabbit, their wild relatives are in Western Europe. In this article, I’m going to discuss the characteristics of this breed as well as its history and origin. You will also learn if the rabbits can make good pets.

San Juan rabbit on field

History Of San Juan Rabbits

The name-giving island of San Juan lies a few miles off the pacific coast and near Vancouver Island. It belongs to the state of Washington.

San Juan rabbits were bred from different European species by the first settlers which arrived around 1880 and soon became the dominant rabbits on the island. Without many predators and with enough food they found nearly perfect conditions.

The main purpose of San Juans was to train hunting dogs as they share many traits and characteristics with wild rabbits. Some hunters today still use them for training their beagles.

Today the remaining population of San Juans lives wild on the island. Only a handful of breeders in the US have San Juan rabbits for sale.

Do San Juan Rabbits Make Good Pets?

Being an owner of San Juan rabbits can be a badge of honor for having a rare breed of pet. The reason they are uncommon as pets is that there are only a few pure breeders of San Juan rabbits. Although their original breeders had other things in mind, like most rabbits, their natural characteristics make them great indoor household pets.

San Juan rabbits were bred for their pretty wild look and not bred for their demeanor. So if you’re looking for the “golden retriever” of bunnies, I’d recommend the New Zealand rabbits. Every rabbit has their own personality that includes how much socializing they received as a baby. San Juan rabbits are for people who appreciate natural bunny behaviors like napping, chewing, and taking time to warm up to its gentle owner.

San Juan rabbits can be called something like wild and domesticated. While they were once bred, they are now mostly living as wild animals. And their physical traits weren’t far from those of the wild species anyway. 

This breed is keen but shy. They are always on the look for potential predators and most individuals are afraid of humans. The latter can lead to bites and scratches when the owner tries to handle them.

If that’s nothing that is discouraging you from getting one there are some other things you should know:

  1. San Juans are best kept in an outdoor rabbit hutch. They live in a relatively cold habitat and are no good indoor rabbits.
  2. Provide them with a large run and where they can live out their natural instincts.
  3. They a very territorial. So you better keep the individuals solely unless you only have females. Males that are kept together will mostly fight each other what can cause serious injuries.

Read this article if you are interested in rabbit care.

What Is The San Juan Rabbit Breed Used For?

The first settlers who bred these rabbits wanted them to look like wild rabbits in order to train hunting dogs. Today the situation has changed but due to the characteristics of San Juans. Because it is rare to come across a pure breed, you find only a few people have them as pets.

Where To Find A San Juan Rabbit Breeder?

Adopt don’t shop is the name of the game to become a part of the growing rabbit community. And because of that, you can own a rabbit that is like a San Juan rabbit by looking for a small bunny with wild-type hair color.

Also known as an agouti color, small rabbits (under 6lbs) have temperaments that are unique to each rabbit. Like San Juan rabbits, they are quick-witted like their wild cousins. They may also be territorial in the way they like to mark furniture with urine or bunny poops, which can be tamed with litter-training and a spay/neuter. However, rabbits are smart and learn to trust their humans.

Wrapping Things Up

San Juan rabbits look wild with their agouti coloring and small size. Their temperament is quick-witted and territorial, but they enjoy the attention of humans and can learn to trust. Like most bunnies, they can learn to look forward to pets and spending time on the floor with their owners.

Only a few owners have the chance to keep them as pets. There are other bunny breeds that seek more attention, like the New Zealand White rabbits.

This breed is not recommended if you are on the search for a starter pet for your children.

If you are an experienced rabbit parent and know what you are going into with socializing and litter training, you will love having a San Juan rabbit.