- Origin: Champagne province of France and England
- Size: Large
- Average weight: 9-12 lb
- Lifespan: 5 to 10 years
- Purpose: Meat, pet, pelt, and show
- Suited for: Singles, couples, families with older children and seniors
- Similar breeds: Crème and Brun D’Argent Rabbit
History and origin
The Champagne D’Argent refer to the Argenté de Champagne (French Silver) rabbits imported from France and England to America in the mid-1920s by Oscar F. Schultz of Connecticut, Lewis S. J. Griffin of Colorado (who introduced them to Western mountain states) and several breeders from New York.
Others were Carldon Gaddis of Indiana who took them to Mid-West while a Californian Mrs. C. A. Richey took them to the Pacific coast.
The ancestors of these French Silvers or les Lapins argent-gris originated from Champagne, one of the Provinces of France where they may have been bred from as early as the 17th century or earlier.
They are one of the seven breeds of Argente rabbits, but ARBA recognized only the Champagne, Brun and Crème while the British Rabbit Council (BRC) recognizes two more, i.e., Blue and Noir.
In Europe and France, these bunnies were very popular due to their silver pelt that fetched good money in the European and Asian markets.
Appearance, size and body type
They have a commercial body type making them to initially compete with Californians and New Zealand rabbits in meat production besides their pelt. Nowadays, they are mainly used for showing and as pets.
A perfect Champagne D’Argent is of moderate length with well-developed hindquarters, midsection, and shoulders, i.e., “shoulders should be well filled with solid firm flesh. The midsection should to be broad, firm, and meaty, carrying as much solid, firm flesh as possible down each side throughout its entire length, ” notes the Champagne d’Argent Rabbit Federation.
Their bones are fine to medium, and their topline gradually rises from their neck and arches at their mid hips before it rounds down to their tail base.
Their medium-full heads are shaped well, and set near to and balanced with its body.
This large bunny weighs about 9-12 lb, with senior bucks weighing 9-11 lb and the senior does weighing 9.5-12 lb. They are shown in six classes, the seniors, intermediate and junior bucks and does. The European and French Silvers are a little smaller, about 7-9 lbs.
Coat and fur
Selective breeding over time has modified the fur of the original French Silver rabbits imported from France and England to shorter, resilient textured close lying flyback fur that is more durable and commercially attractive.
The Champagne d’Argent Rabbit Federation formed in 1932 states that the fur should be “very dense, with resilient texture, and be free of molt or any condition that tends to spoil true color.“ The coat has underfur (fine and soft), secondary, and primary guard hairs.
At birth, they have a solid black color which begins to turn to silvery-grey i.e., at the age of 7-8 weeks. Their color then continues changing slowly starting from their underside and finally to their back as these bunnies grow. By the time they are adults, they will have their distinctive silver color.
The earlier French Silver rabbits were dark colored than the present ones due to selective breeding that favored those with a lighter shade.
Their surface color should be that of a light ultramarine, old silver or skimmed milk with longer guard hairs that are black. Their pelts should be uniform, without any other different color or brassiness.
Caring for your Champagne d’Argent
Caring for these bunnies will entail things such as providing them with the recommended rabbit food which is usually high-quality hay, pellets, small amounts of leafy greens safe for rabbits as well as occasional treats of fruits and vegetables. Ensure you also give them access to unlimited clean water.
Secondly, groom them regularly by brushing their coat. Usually, once a week is ok. However, you may have to increase the times you brush them if they are molting.
Proper and correct size of rabbit housing is vital. You can go for indoor or outdoor hutches. Both should have a place where the rabbit can sleep. Any droppings should be removed daily and the cage cleaned thoroughly once a week replacing your rabbit’s beddings.
Outdoor enclosures should be raised, waterproof, secure from predators and located under an open, airy area preferably under a shade.
Finally, clip their nails when they become long and let your bunnies spend a few hours outside their cages and interact with you. Rabbits require your time and attention. Do not just put them in their cages and forget about them.
Let your vet vaccinate your bunnies against Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease and myxomatosis followed by proper care and husbandry to ensure they are free of fur mites, ticks, and fleas.
Ensure they are not soiled especially on their bottoms to avoid flystrike. Spot clean them if necessary. Avoid bathing your rabbits as this stresses them. Do not forget to monitor their weight and general health conditions.
Check them regularly to ensure they don’t have overgrown teeth. In the case of overgrown teeth, give them more hay, gnaw toys, and roughages to help wear off their ever-growing teeth as they can injure soft tissues inside their mouths if ignored.
Any signs of ill-health such as the bunny not eating, pooping, runny eyes or nose, lethargy, high fever, loss of weight, loss of fur among other conditions should be reported to your veterinarian.
Temperament and behavior
These bunnies are docile and very calm. Being social animals, they will thrive well if given a chance to interact with owners, while outside of their cages. They love attention and are good with children (with smaller kids supervised and taught how to handle them).
Being social, keep them in pairs. Having just one rabbit may make it feel lonely. Also, get a few rabbit toys from your local store or give them simple ones such as empty toilet paper rolls, plastic balls, and so on to play with.
All these traits make them excellent pets. A reason perhaps why many rabbit enthusiasts rear and continue breeding (including those for sale).
To avoid droppings everywhere, train your bunnies to use litter boxes. The training may require some patience and these litter boxes must be strategically placed for them to be able to use them.
Champagne d’Argents for sale
If you want to buy the Champagne d’Argents, it is good to look for an ARBA recognized Champagne d’Argents breeders or any Champagne d’Argent Breed Clubs near you. Alternatively, you can search for them online.
The selling prices for the Champagne d’Argents rabbits is about $50 to $100+. As in the case of all rabbits, the purebred and pedigreed being more expensive.
Also consider the cost of keeping them, their supplies and whether or not you have time.