SMOKE PEARL - Nikki White (Reguli Cavy & Rabbit Stud)
Rather rare and like many of the Fur breeds, only occasionally seen on the show table as it is kept alive by only a few dedicated breeders. It is a very attractive rabbit with a lovely dense coat. However, it is rare even in Britain and is shown now in the Rare Varieties classes. You are more likely to come across this as a colour in other breeds such as the Rex, Netherland Dwarf or any of the Lop breeds.
There are to types: the Marten type and the Siamese type. The Marten type should have a a smoke saddle shading to pearl grey beige on flanks. Head, feet, tail and ears to match saddle as nearly as possible. Chest, flanks, rump and feet to be well ticked with longer white hairs, triangle white and to be as small as possible, eye circles, belly, underside of tail, inside ears and nostrils all to be white. In the Siamese type the saddle to be smoke shading to grey beige on flanks. Chest, belly to be free of white hairs, head, ears and legs to match saddle as near as possible, shading to be gradual and avoid blotches. Fur to be soft and dense and 2.54 cm in length, texture and density more important than length. Neat body moderate in length with slightly arched back. Weight is between 2.25 and 3.2 kg. Faults include drooping or lopped ears, short, harsh or fly-back coat, lack of density, white patches, excessive dewlap, white feet, putty nose.
SO, A SMOKE PEARL, THEN?
If you can find one, they do make very nice pets, with their soft dense coats and laid back personalities. They love attention and to be stroked. They also do well on the how bench, and have taken out best in show.
Like many Fur breeds, it was developed in Britain in the 1920s. A Mr Lawrie Stenhouse, of Scotland, is credited with having created it. The first appeared in the late 1920s, derived from the Sable. It was originally known as the Smoke Beige but the name was changed to Smoke Pearl in 1932 when the standard as first adopted.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Make sure the rabbit is either the Marten type (tan pattern with ticking on the flanks, rump, chest and feet) or of the Siamese type (no ticking and no white unders but shading with dark points on the nose and feet). It should not be an unfortunate combination of the two types. The exquisite coat with the correct density and shading is important. A dark top coat should be used to maintain the show shade otherwise the depth of colour will be lost.
CARE AND HANDLING
The Smoke Parl is a medium rabbit so will need either 110-120 x 50 x 50 or 80 x 80 x 60. Feed is as for other breeds - pellets, mix, fresh fruit and veg, as treats. Don't over feed. Their coats can be brought to a fine sheen by brushing with your hands and/or a piece of silk or satin cloth or mitt. Like all rabbits, they should be brushed with a slicker brush or comb in moult and given plenty of roughage (meadow hay or lucerne) during these times. They are basically an easy care rabbit provided you observe commonsense as outlined above.
National Smoke Pearl Rabbit Club see British Rabbit Council website as they don't appear to have a website (Jan. 2015)
British Rabbit Council, Standards of Rabbit Breeds 3rd ed. 2011-2016.
"Pearls beyond price" Fur & Feather April 2010 p. 53
Russell, Gary, Mini Encyclopedia of Rabbit Breeds & Care. Dorking, Interpet Publishing, 2008
"Sable dressed in grey: the scintillating Smoke Pearl" Fur & Feather July 19, 2001 p. 2
Sandford, J.C., The Domestic Rabbit 5th ed. Blackwell, Science, 1996
Verhoef-Verhallen, Esther, Encyclopaedia of Rabbits and Rodents. Lisse, Rebo Productions, 1998
Vriends-Parent, Lucia, The New Rabbit Handbook. Hauppage, NY, Barrons, 1989
Whitman, Bob D., Domestic Rabbits & Their Histories: Breeds of the World. Leawood, KS : Leathers Publishing, 2004
Williams, A.E. Ted, Rabbit Breeding for Perfection. Melbourne, AE Williams, 1992.