Adult Size: Medium (6-9 pounds/ 2.7-3.6 kilograms)
Conservation Priority (ALBC): Threatened
Harlequins are usually pretty docile, make good mothers and foster kits well. Owners often describe them as curious, calm and appreciative of human interaction, true to their clown-like appearance. The ideal age for a Harlequin doe to start breeding is 5 to 6 months old.
There are two varieties of Harlequins: Japanese are golden orange with colored markings and the Magpie is white with colored markings. A well bred Harlequin will have white or orange on one side of the face with a straight, clean line dividing it from the other side of the face, which would be colored. The ear attached to the white or orange side would be colored, and the ear attached to the colored side would be white or orange. The body is alternately striped with white or orange and color. They have a short coat that is easy to take care of.
The Harlequin breed originated in France during the 1800s. It was a breed made from wild rabbits crossed with Tortoiseshell colored Dutch rabbits, producing strangely marked Dutch-like rabbits. As it was continuously bred and refined, something unusual was appearing in its markings giving birth to the Royal Jester of the rabbit world. It has been considered more of a color patter rather than being an actual breed. They are medium-sized breed with a standard body that should be well rounded and filled with smooth appearance. Their ears should be erect and resemble a “v”. Because of their unique pattern, they have gained popularity among breeders and rabbit owners alike. They also make great pets for children because of their loving, gently and playful personality. Harlequins are intelligent and responsive breed owing to the fact that they can be toilet-trained and can even learn their name.
They average a lifespan of 5 years or more.
In the past, they have been bread for meat, but because they are primarily a fancy rabbit, they have been bred for exhibition as well.