To most of us, a rabbit is just a rabbit, but for the enthusiasts at the Mandurah Rabbit Show, we’re hopping mad.
For Toni Page and her husband Mark, who is the president of the Australian National Rabbit Council, showing rabbits has been a 16-year-long passion.
“There’s conventions every year over east, this year we flew to Geelong, last year we were in Hobart in Tasmania,” Ms Page said.
“It’s great to go over and meet like-minded people.”
According to Ms Page, there are about 25 different varieties of rabbit bred in Western Australia alone.
Many were represented at the second annual Mandurah Rabbit Show, which was held on Saturday at the Mandurah Bowls Club.
Though Ms Page recommended low-maintenance breeds like Dutch and Dwarf Lop as pets, visitors to the show were inevitably attracted to the oddities.
“These aren’t something we recommend to the general public, they take a lot of looking after, they take at least an hour grooming a week,” local breeder and WA Rabbit Council member Melanie Mackrill said.
“But, you know, if people want to learn, that’s what we want to teach you.”
The largest rabbit on show was a British Giant named Kev, who will grow to more than seven kilograms.
Second to Kev was a rabbit named Big Blue, who represented a developing breed called French Lop.
The smallest rabbit breeds included the Netherland Dwarf and the Polish.
Other rare breeds included a Harlequin, a Magpie, some Dutch, and some Jersey Woolies who travelled all the way up from Albany for the show.
“We have breeders come from all around WA,” Ms Mackrill said.
“Today we’ve got a two-star and a one-star show, so we have two different judges, and there’s two different levels.”
Judges assessed the rabbits on their condition, and awarded points to determine winners in each breed’s category, and potentially enable the rabbit and their owner to go on to the Royal Show and other grand championships.
As well as the chance for owners to take home a prize, the WA Rabbit Council and the Hills Rabbit Club put on the Mandurah Rabbit Show to promote and educate the general public about keeping rabbits as pets.
Ms Mackrill said the shows gave pet owners a chance to have their rabbits checked for health issues, learn correct husbandry, or even have their breed identified.
Mr Page showed families how to clip their pet rabbit’s nails, and how to handle them correctly.
“What we try and do is educate people not to sell rabbits that aren’t pet-friendly,” he said.
Irresponsible breeding or trading of rabbits is frowned upon in the community, to the extent that the WA Rabbit Council website has a “Shame Page” to identify irresponsible breeders.
Mr Page said they have a network that meant if a member was abusing the council’s code of ethics, they would find out about it.
“We don’t promote mass-breeding, we promote breeding for show,” he said.