As in any species of livestock, or domestic pet, man has developed separate breeds, each with certain characteristics, suitable for certain purposes. Many mutations, from the original wild rabbit have occurred through the years. It is generally believed that these mutations occurred in these time periods:
These mutations are the basis of our pure breeds today. Why? Natural phenomenon or the whim of man? Both. Mutations are a natural occurrence in all animals, plants, and even man. A few mutations have been discovered, thought to be desirable, and developed into something unique. It might be a new variety of rose, or a new breed of rabbit.
Each breed is unique, with certain qualities that make each one desirable in its own way.
This isn't to say that there is no place for rabbits of mixed or unknown parentage. A rabbit is still a rabbit, and a mixed breed may be just as suited or desirable as a pet, or for meat, as a purebred. Without the purebred breeder though, many of the qualities that make each breed unique would merge and mix, and create a "generic" rabbit.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes 45 breeds of rabbits, each with their own special qualities and appeal. Because of the many purebred breeders, a person may choose the breed with just the right qualities for them.
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