You could say its Easter all year for Saskatchewan’s Shelley Eckart who opened Countryside Rabbitry 25 years ago.
Located between Rosetown and Biggar, Eckart breeds and raises a variety of rabbits for a number of reasons, including as pets and for rabbit shows.
“I’ve always loved rabbits, I started with pet rabbits, it was simply a hobby,” she said.
It was only after touring western Canadian and US rabbit shows that she began to get more involved with bunnies.
“The more I started researching, the more I started finding out about rabbit shows and rabbit breeders and there’s a whole rabbit world out there that I didn’t know about,” Eckart explained.
Before opening Countryside Rabbitry, Eckart was a stay at home mom and felt like she had to do something for herself, so that’s where rabbits came in. She started breeding and attending rabbit shows in Calgary and Edmonton.
Judging a rabbit show is a little different than a dog show, but there are some similarities, like judging by breed.
“There are about 42 different breeds of rabbits so each rabbit is judged according to its size, body type, fur colour, just the general composition, even down to the (colour of) the toenails,” Eckart explained.
Rabbits can also be judged on their teeth and tails.
Each breed of rabbit is judged differently, according to their head, ears and body type, the industry calls it the Standard of Perfection.
“You want to get as close to that standard of perfection as possible,” Eckart said.
Fur quality is also very important as well as the feel of the fur.
Rabbit shows are different than dog shows in the sense that the rabbits don’t perform any tricks.
Eckart said the rabbits will remain in their cages with the judge going around and examining each one.
At the height of breeding, Eckart said she’s had up to 100 rabbits during a summer, some of which she’d sell into the pet world and some into the show world.
Eckart still shows rabbits, but not as much as she used too. She does about two shows a year as there aren’t any shows in Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan rabbit world is really small and there is no provincial club. The closest clubs are located in Edmonton and Calgary.
Eckart said rabbits make excellent pets because they are easy to keep but they can be hard to litter train. Rabbits are also very low maintenance and very likeable.
“I really enjoy rabbits, now I have a grandchild, and they love the rabbits,” Eckart said.
Purebred show rabbits can be expensive, ranging in price from $90 to $200.
Eckart is discouraging people from buying rabbits as Easter gifts. She said to research rabbits and see if it’s something you’re up to caring for.
For anyone seriously interested in getting a pet bunny, Eckart said to make sure they are healthy.
– With files from 980 CJME’s Jessie Anton