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What is an English Spot?

By DM Gutierrez
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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An English spot is a medium-sized rabbit kept primarily as a pet or show animal. English spots are very distinctive with a well-defined pattern of spots, circles, lines, and an obvious butterfly marking. Long and lean, they are well-designed for running and require regular exercise. The English spot has a hearty appetite for select types of hay, but eats many other plants. This rabbit has been termed a friendly animal, getting along well with most people and other pets if introduced at an early age.

The male and female adult English spot are similar in size, ranging from 5 to 8 pounds (2.27 to 3.64 kg). Their bodies are long and spare with long slender legs and ears that stand upright. This breed of rabbit has a highly arched back.

Some English spots are solid colors or white with splashes of color, but the rabbits eligible for showing must follow the typical English spot markings pattern. This requires a coat with a pure white background and spots on each cheek under the eyes. A butterfly silhouette appears across the nose and a line runs down the backbone. Rings appear around the eyes and spots of varying sizes splash along each side, but all markings are the same color. The pattern colors include gold, tortoise and lilac. Blue, black, gray, and chocolate can also appear.

English spots are highly energetic and typically require the nutritious foods all rabbits enjoy. This includes hay and green-leafed and root vegetables. Timothy hay is easier on the rabbit’s digestive system than alfalfa, but an occasional block of alfalfa can help the rabbit to wear down its teeth.

Most rabbits will eat root vegetables like carrots or radishes but usually prefer the green leaves to the much more difficult-to-digest root. Leafy greens generally good for rabbits like the English spot are basil, cilantro, parsley, watercress, and wheat grass. Kale and spinach are usually only provided occasionally, while starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes are generally avoided.

English spots were first developed in Britain in the late 1800s, presumably from rabbits with similar markings. Some rabbit fanciers think the English spot may have been bred from the English butterfly and the checkered giant, both of which have the characteristic butterfly shape across the nose. English spots were transported to the United States in the early 20th century.

Pet owners usually find English spots good house pets, though they do require more exercise than other house rabbits. Although they get along well with other pets and most teens and adults, this type of rabbit is not generally recommended for young children.

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