Asking someone what the best breed of rabbit is, is rather like asking which ice cream is their favorite. They all have merit, and all of them deserve their own place in the world.
Angora rabbits, were developed during Roman times. The gene for long hair exists in many animals, and as it it recessive (in other words hidden in animals who are carriers) it can crop up unexpectedly in places. Once someone noticed that this coat type was valuable, it was a simple procedure to make more carriers, and a line of angoras were born. While there are two distinct histories, I believe that the thought that most were in England (there was a decree stating that ‘English Silky Hares’ should not be allowed to leave the country) until smuggled out is the correct one. Whatever the case is, there seems to be no doubt Angoras ended up in France in the 1700s. The French quickly started breeding them for their wool and the modern day Angora rabbit was on it’s way.
Angoras first came to the United states around 1920, over the years, the American Rabbit Breeder Associated recognized, French Angoras (known for their commercial body type, and low matting coat), English Angoras (a much softer wool with beautiful ear and face furnishings), Giant Angoras (Developed by crossing Angoras with French Lops and Flemish giants). In addition, German Angoras, a non molting (shedding) bunny was popular in handspinning and fiber farms, for their tremendous yield.
But in the 1980’s, a Satin rabbit breeder, noticed a mutation in their rabbits. A bunny had longer than normal hair. Mrs L.P. Meyer, a long time angora fancier, was intrigued and bred the little copper bunny to a French Angora. In 1987, the ARBA accepted the Satin Angora into the show world.
Satin Angoras, are still a breed that is considered a work in progress. They tend to produce less wool than their other Angora cousins, but part of that is simply because their wool is so much finer. The hair shaft is lighter, and feels almost like silk in texture. It spins beautifully into an extremely strong yarn that glows with a light. Even a white Satin Angora shimmers in the sun. The wool accepts dye readily, and is warmer than sheeps wool, soft, and lofty. No bunnies have to be harmed to produce the fiber, instead they are groomed and their coats are either sheared or plucked (where the currently shedding fiber is removed by hand), approximately 4 times a year.
I have chosen to work with and promote Satin Angoras for several reasons.
First is their temperament. All Angoras tend to be people rabbits who are clowns, and sweet. After all, unlike many bunnies bred strictly for meat purposes, Angoras have been bred to live a long productive life making wool. They must be easy to handle. Satin Angoras are inquisitive, a little bit more active than their English cousins, and they love people. It’s wonderful having bunnies who come up for petting and greet you at the cage door every morning. Especially when petting them is like petting silk.
The next is their fiber. All Angora is a luxury fiber, but Satin Angora, is the epitome of the word. It’s silky, shiny, warm, extremely light weight, and spectacular. It is fiber fit for a king.
The third reason is, the Satin Angora’s body type is a production type. This means that if you are on a small homestead, this is a triple purpose rabbit. It can provide you with clothes, compost for the garden, and meat for the table if someone so chooses (we do not choose, as we are actually Vegan, all our bunnies are pets). In today’s movement toward self sustainability, this is awesome.
Finally, since Satin Angoras are a new breed, there is a lot of room for improvement. And nothing is more challenging than something that can be considered a work in progress toward perfection.