Show rabbits are an increasingly popular activity. Showing rabbits helps to improve the vigor and physical behavior of each breed through competitive selection. County fairs are common venues through which rabbits are shown in the United States. Rabbit clubs at local state and national levels hold many shows each year.
On any given weekend one may be able to find a show in most regions of the United States and the United Kingdom. Although only purebred animals are shown, a pedigree is not required to enter a rabbit in an ARBA-sanctioned show but is required to register your rabbit with the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). A rabbit must be registered in order to receive a Grand Champion certificate. Children's clubs such as 4-H also include rabbit shows, usually in conjunction with county fairs. The ARBA holds an annual national convention which has as many as 25,000 animals competing form all over the world. The mega show moves to a different city each year.
The ARBA also sponsors youth programs for families as well as underprivileged rural and inner city children to learn responsible care and breeding of domestic rabbits.
If you are interested in exhibiting breeding rabbits or raising rabbits, it is important to have a copy of the Standard of Perfection for your breed. This publication describes the ideal rabbit for each recognized breed, and is the standard by which judges compare rabbits of the same breed against one another.
Rabbits are light-boned animals. Because of this, improper handling can easily injure a rabbit. Rabbits should be handled from a young age, after weaning, and handled often. Never pick up a rabbit by its ears, by the skin on the back, or by the scruff of the neck. Doing so can injure the rabbit and damage flesh condition.
Rabbits are easily frightened and may react differently in an unfamiliar situation. A very tame rabbit at home may become stressed and frightened at a show. Never place the rabbit near your face! A rabbit’s toenails can scratch deeply.
Rabbits should travel in cages specifically designed for them. Purchase a rabbit carrier that is the correct size for the age and breed of your rabbit. Do not transport a rabbit in a box! A rabbit can become overheated easily and die quickly as a result.
Hot weather conditions can be dangerous for a rabbit. It is best to place rabbits in an air-conditioned vehicle for transport. If this is not possible, keep windows rolled down and air circulating. For long-distance travel, rabbits should be in carriers and covered with large sheets of cardboard or similar items to block the sunlight. A thin sheet of foam placed under the cages will help cushion the ride, keeps cages from slipping or tipping, and protects the car’s interior. Place an absorbent, generous quantity of bedding or a canine house-training pad in the bottom of the carrier tray to help absorb any wastes or spilled water.
Secure water and feed pans inside the carrier. There are specially designed pans for carrier use. To avoid spillage, provide only a small amount of water during transport. Most rabbits will not eat or drink during a ride. If stopping, be certain to keep the vehicle cool. Park in a shaded area or keep the car’s air conditioning operating. If cool outside, roll down windows. Handling rabbits during transport can heighten stress resulting in increased body temperature.
Secure cage doors with zip ties. Carry your own water from home as changing water sources can upset the rabbit’s digestion. Watering the rabbit through the carrier is easily accomplished by using a houseplant watering can with a narrow spout.
If taking several rabbits on a journey, invest in a wheeled cart on which the carriers fit easily. Many types of these carts are available.