Description: Perhaps the most popular of all the rex types is the ermine rex. This variety quickly came to the fore when it was first introduced into the rex standards. The ermine is well known for the density of its coat. It is very rare indeed to find one that is thin-coated like that of other colors. However, some ermines tend to be harsh in texture, which holds them back on the show bench.
The color, of course, is pure white. Here again the ermine faces a handicap: if the color is tinted with a yellow cast, it does not stand a chance in good competition. A good, clean, healthy ermine rex is a really beautiful rabbit that is often at the top of the table when the awards are handed out.The rex rabbit is an entirely different variety from the normalfurred rabbits such as the chinchilla and the Beveren. The rex coated rabbits have a distinctive velvety fur achieved by guard hairs that are the same length as the undercoat hairs. The fur length required in the standard is little more than half an inch. The vibrissae or whiskers are curly and much shorter than normal.
The rex is a utility rabbit; its meat properties are the same as the normal-furred breeds reared exclusively for meat. The rex, however, is bred mostly for its exquisitely soft fur that is much sought after by furriers.
Rex rabbits cropped up in litters many, many years ago, but they were considered runts rather than sports or mutations and were killed off as soon as they appeared. The introduction of the rex to the world of exhibition rabbits is usually credited to Mssr. M. Gillet, a Frenchman who first exhibited this new mutation. However, in 1919 D. Callion, another Frenchman, experimented with the rex and found that the rabbits bred true. Mssr. Gillet continued with his experiments and bred the first castor rex to be exhibited anywhere in the world.
All the rex varieties are of the same type-a rather graceful rabbit gently sloping up to well-rounded hindquarters. The bone is medium strong, the head is broad and bold with the ears held erect. A small dewlap is permissible, but it must be in proportion to the body size and well-rounded. Between six and eight pounds is the acceptable weight. Heavier rabbits tend to look awkward and do not conform to the standard.
Another popular color is the black, which is very much sought after by furriers. It has been found that pelts from this color match well. Unlike the ermine, the black formerly suffered considerably
from lack of density in the coat. This has now largely been eliminated, but occasionally a thin-coated specimen does turn up. One of the most important aspects of the black rex is that it must be absolutely sound in color. It must be kept on clean bedding to avoid a stained and dirty underside. There must never be the slightest trace of a white hair in the body. In the early black rex, white armpits were prevalent in many exhibits and they were tolerated because the variety was in its infancy. Today the standard of excellence is very high and such faulty exhibits would never be tolerated.
While the blue rex never suffered from lack of density in the coat, it has been a difficult task to maintain a level color. The head and limbs suffered badly, generally appearing much too dark. Due mainly to the perseverance of breeders, a much more satisfactory color level is being maintained. White toenails were once occasionally evident, but have been almost eliminated in the contemporary blues.
Although the lilac rex suffered from bad color in its early days, it is now very popular in England. Too many early specimens had a muddy appearance, with a few white hairs in the coat. A good lilac rex is very pleasing to the eye. The color was reportedly produced by crossing Havana rex with blue rex; lilac is a dilute brown.
The nutria rex has become relatively rare. It used to be very popular as the pelt is one of the best types for fur work. The color is a self golden brown with a pearl-gray undercolor. A common fault is a rusty tinge in the coat color. Nutria rex have occasionally turned up in litters of Havana rex.
The Siamese sable rex is the rexed version of the normal-furred Siamese sable. It is a beautiful rabbit, but one that is not as popular as its attractiveness merits. The Siamese sable is, of course, a shaded self with a rich sepia-colored saddle over the back, shading down to a rich chestnut color on the sides and flanks. The dark sepia face, ears and limbs make a very attractive rabbit. A common fault in the sable rex is the occurrence of white hairs in the saddle and in the ears.
There was quite a controversy over whether the dark Siamese sable rex was a distinct color from the normal Siamese sable rex. Its distinction has now been generally accepted and the dark Siamese sable rex has been named the seal rex. While the former all over the body except for the face, ear and feet. The astrex, formerly bred in most self colors including blue, black, and the most popular-lilac-is rarely seen now. In its heyday, more than one astrex was presented to the judge after being prepared with such devices as curling tongs!
The other rex that is distinct from the majority bearing that name is the opposum rex. Produced by Mr. T. Leaver of Kent, England in 1924, it was bred from chifox rex, which are chinchillated fox rex rabbits. Woolly argentes were added to produce a unique silvering effect over the whole of the opposum rex pelt. The opposum rex has a coat that is about one and a half inches long. The base (about an inch long) is the main color of the rabbit. Although black was most popular, any color is permissible. This bottom inch forms a base for the top half inch, which is white. The whole coat stands upright at right angles to the skin-a very peculiar characteristic. The face, ears and feet are the color of the rabbit, not silvered. While the opposum rex is not as popular as it once was, it is still extensively bred.