Velvet lions are a brand new breed of rabbit and therefore pretty rare. My foundation stock
(Moonbeam, Daisy, Ambrosia, and Twilight) came from Lily of
Lily's Rabbit Hole in New
Hampshire who began to develop the breed in 2006. Europeans have been working on the breed as well
but I don't know any more history about that at the time. Velvet Lions are a mix between the mini rex, my
favorite breed of course, and the lionhead. Lionheads are a fairly new breed as well and are a bit smaller
than the mini rex. The hope is to get velvet lions that weigh between 2-3 1/2 lbs (like lionheads) where
mini rex weigh 3-5 lbs. Velvet lions have the plush rex fur of the mini rex and the mane of the lionhead.
Lionheads often lose their manes when they molt into their adult coat. Some grow the manes back right
away, some grow them back after 1 or more years, and some never grow them back at all. Double mane
rabbits are more likely to retain their manes throughout their lives than single mane rabbits are. Even after
shedding out most of their wool, most lionheads retain at least a partial mane. We assume all of this will
be the case for the velvet lions as well, but the breed is still in it's infancy so this is not known yet. We
will work towards velvet lions that retain their manes throughout their lives, but this could take some
time to accomplish.
Since velvet lions are so new they are not recognized by the ARBA
(American Rabbit Breeders Association) and therefore cannot be shown. Perhaps after they have been
around a bit longer they will one day be recognized but for now we can enjoy them for the wonderful pets
they make! I am thrilled to be one of the few breeders to work with the velvet lions
thus far. I'm looking forward to the experience!
Here's a link to a website that has great information on the mane gene and it's impact on the appearance
of the rabbit carrying it. The information is written about the lionhead breed but it applies to velvet lions as well
since they have the same mane gene. The mane gene
in the lionhead rabbit.