Wrangling rabbits is not as tough as wrestling alligators, but there’s some risk involved — at least with certain breeds.
Just look at all the cuts and scratches on Joe Mabe’s wrists. He’s watching over about 60 rabbits on display at the Coastal Carolina Fair this week. Some of those guys can really kick with those back feet.
The Charleston Fancy Rabbit Breeders Association has 43 breeds of rabbits on display. Mabe calls it “the most complete display of rabbits in South Carolina.”
The one to really watch out for is the Checkered Giant, a big black and white rabbit with a sign on its cage that says, “I may bite.”
“It’s the most aggressive breed,” said Mabe, an unemployed Goose Creek truck driver who has owned up to 300 rabbits of various breeds at one time.
“Some of these are not your normal pet-shop rabbits,” he said.
Certainly not all rabbits bite, kick and scratch. Mabe was hauling around a Flemish Giant, a 14-pounder that was the biggest rabbit on display. It was an even-tempered bunny, tolerating petters with no complaint.
“Every rabbit has its own personality,” Mabe said. “They call this one the Gentle Giant.”
Children constantly streamed through the exhibit — which is in the animal barn acros from the gazebo stage — to check out the rabbits in cages and pet the ones they could get their hands on.
“Just to see a young kid who hasn’t seen a rabbit up close, and see their eyes light up,” Mabe said when asked why he does it.
Another group of children was watching Patty Strain of Lincolnville, the association’s president, spin Angora rabbit wool into yarn. It’s the stuff they make Angora sweaters out of. A big white Angora was in a cage nearby.
“People have been raising Angoras for thousands of years,” she said. “It’s a very peaceful hobby.”
Della Wilkinson of upper Berkeley County was letting children pet a white English lop, a breed whose ears get up to 2 feet long. They get so long, in fact, that the rabbits can’t run without tripping over them. The opposite of natural selection, breeders have made it so the animals can’t run from predators.
“They’re goofy little guys,” Wilkinson said of the lops. “But they’re such sweet rabbits.”
A rich brown Belgian hare was in a cage nearby. It’s a sleek rabbit, made for running, with a long heritage. But its thin bones make it unsuitable as pets for children, the experts said.
Local 4-H clubs have a smaller display of rabbits in the building. Hanna Gonzalez, a 5th-grader at Cane Bay Middle School, is showing a Lionhead, a soft, fuzzy short-eared critter. The Lionhead was recently recognized as the newest breed of rabbit.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.
Destiny Angel Craft, 8, and Jonathan Craft, 7, learn all about rabbits as they pet a Himalayan rabbit at the Coastal Carolina Fair on Saturday.×
Norris Steplight, 6, of North Charleston reaches in to pet a Himalayan rabbit, one of about 60 on display at the Coastal Carolina Fair.×
Norris Steplight, 6, of North Charleston reaches in to pet a Himalayan rabbit, one of about 60 on display at the Coastal Carolina Fair Saturday.×
Hanna Gonzalazes, 11, a 5th-grader at Cane Bay Middle School and 4-H member, holds her Lion Head rabbit, the most recently recognized breed, at the Coastal Carolina Fair Saturday.×
Charles Cameron of Summerville holds his granddaughter, 14-month-old Raelynn Cameron, so she can check out a Flemish Giant rabbit at the Coastal Carolina Fair Saturday.×
A kayaker paddles through the water during the Coastal Carolina Fair on Saturday at Exchange Park in Ladson.×
Attendees enjoy the amusement rides during the Coastal Carolina Fair on Saturday at Exchange Park in Ladson.×