Gotland Rabbit

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The Gotland rabbit is a medium-sized, rare Swedish breed that developed naturally in Swedish forests over centuries without any deliberate breeding program. Boasting a variety of colors and patterns, this endangered species holds official landrace status in Sweden. It is related to the even rarer Mellerud rabbit and has a similar history of development. Over time, rabbit farming decreased in popularity, and the Gotland rabbit population diminished as livestock numbers increased due to the influx of imported food supplies.

In an effort to preserve and grow the remaining population, modern breeding programs for the Gotland rabbit are currently underway. Initially farmed for their meat and pelts, Gotland rabbits present an important facet of Sweden’s agriculture and cultural history. Their endangered status adds urgency to the need for conserving and promoting the breed on a global scale.

Key Takeaways

  • The Gotland rabbit is a rare, medium-sized Swedish breed that developed naturally
  • Endangered, it holds landrace status in Sweden and is being preserved through modern breeding programs
  • Historically significant, Gotland rabbits were initially farmed for their meat and pelts

Gotland Rabbit Features


The Gotland rabbit is a medium-sized breed with a distinctive and recognizable appearance. Both the doe and buck share a similar body structure, with the doe’s body being relatively elongated and a fine head, while the buck is somewhat more compact with a rounder head and thicker muzzle.


Adult Gotland rabbits are generally of medium size, making them suitable for various living situations. Their size is not significantly different between the sexes.


The typical adult weight for Gotland rabbits ranges from 3-4 kg (6.6-8.8 lb). The weight of a bunny can be influenced by factors such as breed, diet, and overall health. For more information about growth rates and healthy weight tips, you can refer to this growth rate guide.


Gotland rabbits have a smooth, shiny, short, and mostly straight fur. Some Gotland rabbits may have rex fur, which grows facing outwards.


Gotland rabbits have short and pointed ears, adding to their distinctive appearance.


The eyes of Gotland rabbits are a notable feature, contributing to their overall appearance. However, detailed information about their eyes is not provided in the search results.


The Gotland rabbit does not have a specific color scheme but instead comes in many color varieties4. This breed’s diversity in colors makes each individual rabbit unique and appealing to potential owners.

Gotland Rabbit Temperament


The Gotland Rabbit is known for its inquisitive and friendly nature, with a pleasant and even temperament. This makes them an excellent choice for both pet and show animals. They are naturally curious creatures, which contributes to their intelligence as rabbits.


Gotland Rabbits are active and lively animals that enjoy exploring their surroundings. Their energetic disposition means that they need sufficient space to move around and exercise. Providing them with toys and other stimuli helps keep their minds and bodies engaged. These rabbits are also known for the various sounds they make while they stay active, such as honking, growling, and clucking.

Social Interaction

Social interaction plays a significant role in the life of a Gotland Rabbit. They tend to be social animals that enjoy the company of both humans and other rabbits. Establishing a bond with your Gotland Rabbit can lead to a rewarding and long-lasting relationship, as they are eager to interact and engage with their caretakers.

Pet Compatibility

As a friendly and social species, Gotland Rabbits can typically coexist and even thrive with other pets, especially other rabbits. However, compatibility with other animals may vary depending on factors such as individual temperament and the environment in which they are housed. It is essential to monitor their interactions and establish proper boundaries to ensure the safety and well-being of all pets involved. Being herbivores, their diet should be carefully considered when combining them with other pet species.

History and Origin

Swedish Origin

The Gotland Rabbit is a Swedish variety of rabbit that traces its origins back to at least the 16th century. They were bred primarily for their meat and pelts on farms in Sweden, with little regard for color or other characteristics. The breed is believed to have developed naturally over centuries in Swedish forests, with no deliberate breeding program in place.

Endangered Status

By the 20th century, rabbit farming saw a decline in popularity, and the Gotland Rabbit subsequently lost its prominence. As a result, the breed’s population dwindled, and it eventually became endangered. The dire situation was compounded by the lack of a studbook or registry to track their lineage and maintain their genetic purity.

Revival Efforts

In more recent years, concerted efforts have been made to save the Gotland Rabbit from extinction. These initiatives include establishing a breeding program and setting up a studbook to record their genealogy. Thanks to such endeavors, the population of Gotland Rabbits is gradually increasing, but the breed remains endangered and in need of further conservation measures.

It is essential to maintain and increase the Gotland Rabbit population due to their historical significance and unique characteristics. Their natural development in the forests of Sweden sheds light on rabbit evolution and holds potential for continued study and research.

Gotland Rabbit Health Needs


One of the most important aspects of a Gotland rabbit’s health is providing them with a balanced and nutritious diet. Their primary food source should be high-quality hay, which is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and dental health. Along with hay, you can include rabbit-safe vegetables, such as cilantro or parsley, as a vital part of their daily diet.

In addition to hay and vegetables, rabbits can be offered small amounts of quality rabbit pellets to ensure they receive essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also acceptable to provide them with occasional treats, such as fruit like bananas, peaches, or blackberries, in moderation. Fresh water should always be available to keep their hydration levels optimal.


Gotland rabbits are energetic and lively creatures that need daily exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Providing them with a safe and spacious environment where they can move around and explore is essential for their overall well-being. Regular exercise also ensures that they maintain an ideal body weight and keeps them engaged and entertained.

Aside from physical exercise, Gotland rabbits can benefit from mental stimulation in the form of toys, tunnels, or platforms to keep them engaged and entertained. This will help prevent boredom-related issues and enhance their quality of life.

Common Diseases

Though generally a healthy breed, Gotland rabbits may be susceptible to common rabbit diseases, such as dental issues, gastrointestinal stasis, and parasitic infections. Regular checkups with a veterinarian, along with proper diet and exercise, are crucial for detecting and addressing any health issues as early as possible. Taking preventative measures, such as keeping their living space clean and maintaining a stress-free environment, can further contribute to a Gotland rabbit’s overall health.

Breeding Gotland Rabbits

Gotland Doe

The Gotland Doe’s elongated body features a fine head, which distinguishes it from the Gotland Buck. Female Gotland Rabbits generally have a slightly more delicate appearance compared to their male counterparts. When breeding Gotland Rabbits, it is essential to ensure the female is in good health and at a suitable age for breeding. Factors such as the doe’s size, overall health, and the quality of the environment directly impact the breeding process.

Gotland Buck

The Gotland Buck is known for its more compact appearance, sporting a thicker muzzle and rounder head. As with breeding any rabbit, ensure that the male is healthy, mature, and properly socialized before introducing him to the doe. Bucks should also be monitored for aggressive behavior throughout the mating process. Providing a comfortable and clean environment is crucial to maintain the Buck’s overall health and fertility.


A typical Gotland Rabbit litter can vary in size, though several factors, such as the doe’s health and the conditions of the breeding environment, play a significant role in determining the number of kits per litter. Careful observation of a pregnant Gotland doe is crucial to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and her litter. Adequate nesting space, proper diet, and appropriate temperatures help create a nurturing environment for the doe and her future kits.

Gotland Rabbits are a landrace breed, developing naturally in the wild. As their breeding patterns have not been manipulated or controlled, their mating behaviors reflect that of other wild rabbits, with evidence pointing to a more short term mating strategy as opposed to long term pair bonding. For more information on rabbit mating behavior, visit Do Rabbits Mate For Life?

Raising Gotland Rabbits

Outdoor Keeping

Gotland Rabbits can be raised outdoors in a secure hutch or cage, which should protect them from potential predators such as foxes and eagles. Ensure that the hutch has ample space for the rabbits to move around and is placed in a safe, well-sheltered area, considering that predators like badgers might also pose a threat. It is also crucial to provide ample bedding for warmth and comfort, as well as fresh food and water daily.

Regular exercise outside the hutch is essential for their well-being. Supervised time in an outdoor run allows them to engage with their surroundings and maintain good physical health.

Rabbits as Pets

Gotland Rabbits can make great pets, thanks to their unique appearance and friendly nature. When raising them as pets, consider keeping them indoors if possible, eliminating the risk of encounters with wolves or bears. Provide an indoor space such as a spacious cage or enclosure and maintain a clean, healthy environment.

When interacting with your Gotland Rabbits, handle them gently and with care to promote bonding and trust. Consistently offer your Gotland Rabbits love, attention, and mental stimulation through playtime and socialization with you and other rabbits.

Show Breeds

Gotland Rabbits have gained popularity as show breeds. To raise a Gotland Rabbit meant for show purposes, ensure that they meet the specific physical appearance standards and showcase the breed’s unique characteristics. This involves taking special care of their coat, maintaining excellent health and nutrition, and providing proper grooming.

Participate in rabbit shows and exhibitions to showcase your Gotland Rabbit and share this beautiful, yet endangered breed with others. It’s essential to adhere to the guidelines established by rabbit show organizations and promote responsible breeding and care for Gotland Rabbits as a show breed.

Societal Significance

Endangered Varieties

The Gotland rabbit, a Swedish variety of medium size, holds official landrace status in its home country and is considered endangered. This rare breed developed naturally in Swedish forests over centuries, without any deliberate breeding programs. It is related to the even rarer Mellerud rabbit. The breed’s endangered status is a cause for concern, as it represents a unique genetic diversity and contributes to the overall diversity of rabbit breeds.

The Gotland Rabbit Society

In response to the declining population of Gotland rabbits, The Gotland Rabbit Society was formed. This organization is dedicated to preserving the breed and keeping it alive. The society mainly focuses on maintaining the breed’s genetic diversity while promoting efforts to increase its population. By doing so, they help uphold the Gotland rabbit’s cultural and historical significance, which dates back to the 1500s when the breed was first kept for its meat and pelts.

In conclusion, the Gotland rabbit’s role in Swedish heritage is undeniable, and its endangered status highlights the need for conservation efforts. The Gotland Rabbit Society plays a crucial role in preserving this unique breed and ensuring its survival for future generations to appreciate and study.

Commercial Significance

At Farm

Gotland rabbits, a medium-sized breed originating from Sweden, have been farmed for centuries. They were primarily raised for their meat and pelts, which were commercially valuable products. Over time, rabbit farming in Sweden decreased as livestock and imported foods became more popular. In recent years, however, there has been a renewed interest in preserving and revitalizing the Gotland rabbit population through modern breeding programs.

As Meat and Pelts

Gotland rabbits are valued for both their meat and pelts. Their meat is lean and tender, making it a desirable option for consumers seeking a healthy protein source. The pelts of Gotland rabbits are known for their variety of colors, which adds to their appeal in the fashion industry. As an endangered landrace breed, efforts are being made to preserve the Gotland rabbit and thus maintain its commercial significance in meat and pelt production.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of Gotland Rabbits?

Gotland Rabbits are a Swedish landrace breed that originates from the island of Gotland in Sweden. They have gained an official landrace status in the country and are considered as an endangered variety.

What is the typical size of a Gotland Rabbit?

A Gotland Rabbit is a medium-sized breed with an adult weight ranging from 3 to 4 kg (6.6 to 8.8 lbs).

Are Gotland Rabbits good for pets?

Yes, Gotland Rabbits make great pets due to their friendly temperament, energetic nature, and social behavior. They are suitable for rabbit owners of all experience levels and get along well with other rabbits.

How long do Gotland Rabbits live?

The average lifespan of a Gotland Rabbit is approximately 9 years. Proper care and a healthy environment can help ensure a long, happy life for these rabbits.

What are the unique features of Gotland Rabbits?

Gotland Rabbits have a range of color varieties and their fur is smooth, shiny, short, and mostly straight. Some Gotland Rabbits also have rex fur, which grows facing outwards. They are known for their distinctive and recognizable appearance despite not having been bred towards a written breed standard until recent times.

How should I care for a Gotland Rabbit?

To care for a Gotland Rabbit, ensure it has a clean, spacious habitat with proper bedding, nesting materials, and hiding spots. Provide fresh water and a diet that consists of high-quality hay, rabbit pellets, and fresh vegetables. Regularly interact with your rabbit to keep it mentally stimulated and socialized. Lastly, keep an eye on its health and consult a veterinarian for any concerns.

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