Why Brown is the prettiest colour

Small Furry Pets magazine interviewed me this month about my work with Rabbit Rehome (a website promoting rabbit adoption). One of the questions they asked me was whether certain breeds of rabbits were more popular and therefore quicker to rehome.  It’s hard to pick the most popular rabbits, there are such a big varieties that end up in rescue centres, but it’s very easy to pick out the least popular. Ask any rescue and they’ll tell you the the very hardest rabbits to rehome are brown with upright ears (black rabbits and white rabbits with red eyes follow close behind). It seems a shame that somewhere along the line rabbits in their natural form have become those that are seen as the least beautiful.

So today, I’m going to tell you, with Scamp’s help, why brown is the prettiest colour of them all.

Now when I say brown, it’s a bit of a fib, in fact if you look really closely at a wild bunny you can find most of the colours that make up range we see in domestic rabbits. For example, the soft orange fur on the back of the neck:

And a ticklable white fluffy belly:


Even the bits that look brown, aren’t. Bunnies like Scamp are actually ‘agouti’, which means:

Fur in which each hair has alternate dark and light bands, producing a grizzled appearance.

I think we’ll ignore ‘grizzled’ (grizzled? obviously someone hasn’t seen a beautiful brown bunny). If you blow into the fur of an agouti bunny this is what you see:

Each hair is a mix of grey, chocolate, cream and black.

The best thing about brown bunnies is they are the most creative moulters, the layers of colour means that as new fur grows through you get amazing (and occassionally embarrassing) patterns. This is what Scamp looks like at the moment:

The dark areas are where the old fur has moulted out, and the black tips of the new fur are coming through. It’s like trying to make pictures out of clouds, you never know what shapes he’ll grow day to day, sometimes he has a Nike tick on his forehead, sometimes a saddle, looks a bit like a giraffe at the moment!

February is Adopt a Rabbit month in the US, and if you are thinking about adopting a bunny, please have a look at those that are perhaps not quite so flashy but may have the best characters,  or be little terrors like Scamp.

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11 Responses to “Why Brown is the prettiest colour”

  1. wendy says:

    When I adopted my last two rabbits, I asked the rescue centre lady to try to bond my existing bunnies with the rabbits that noone else wanted. I think all rabbits are gorgeous and would rather give a home to one that no-one else wants. I got Ellis, a BEAUTIFUL white bunny with red eyes, she’s so delicate looking, and Harry, a little black rabbit who’s the cutest thing possible. I have photos in the side bar of my blog if you want to see.

  2. annette says:

    I totally adore brown 🙂
    Arabella was the most beautiful doe ever, and she was ‘brown bunny’ – I’m so grateful that I got to give her a forever home 🙂
    and now I have my darling Wesley – a pink eyed white lop, and he is such a mr sweetheart!
    both of my furs were at the rescues for a year each because of their colours, but I am the luckiest one of all – they were there for me!
    and I adore Scamp so, so, so much! he is SO handsome! oooh – if I was a rabbit … 🙂
    (heh heh 🙂

    • Tamsin says:

      I thought about Arabella when I was writing this as she often reminded me of Scamp. I think there are quite a few bloggers with our excellent taste in bunny colours 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    Handsome indeed 🙂

    Tamsin, I was sent a very troubling article the other day that they are destroying the real Watership Down. Is it true? and is this really anything new?

  4. Helen says:

    I also have a brown rabbit, given to me by someone who didn’t want him anymore. I love the soft ginger hair behind his ears and his white belly. He’s 6 now and I love him. His names dave(my daughters choice).

  5. Helen says:

    This seems so strange to me, when I bought (I know, I know, I was uneducated at the time) My Connor I picked him BECAUSE he looked like a wild bunny! I love when he starts moulting and I get to marvel at his crazy tidelines, bless his little fluffy bottom.

  6. Debra Taillard says:

    You are so right about the brown bunnies! Scamp is gorgeous and I bet so are all of the browns mentioned here. My little brown Chessie crossed the rainbow bridge over a year ago and my heart is still missing him terribly and always will. Here’s a writing about him (It is a bit lengthy. Hope that’s o.k.)

    Debbie (United States, Ohio)

    In Memory of Chester
    May 18, 2008 (adoption and new life as a house rabbit) – June 25, 2012

    At my request one sunny Saturday morning our family decided to visit the Cleveland Animal Protective League in search of a bunny companion. Upon entering the room where the bunnies are kept I become preoccupied with looking at the rows and rows of cages that seemed to cover the entire wall. I did not notice my daughter and husband who were calling to me of from the far corner of the room. There in a cage by himself against the wall was a brown bunny. We read the information sheet and discovered that he had been admitted two days earlier. A woman reported that she had seen him while walking in her Cleveland neighborhood, recognized him as a homeless domestic rabbit, and brought him to the APL. If he hadn’t been abused, he certainly had been neglected. He had suffered a broken right hind leg which healed improperly. His face was distorted from imbedded ticks. We felt so sad for all the hardships he had encountered. As we gently lifted him from his cage, he melted into our arms and we knew we wanted to bring him home. An announcement was made that the APL was closing for the day. My husband said that we should come back the next day though I was concerned that he wouldn’t be there. As we turned to leave, I saw his little face pressed up to the bars of the cage looking for me. I made sure we returned upon opening the next day. There he was waiting for us. I was so excited to bring him home. He no longer had the generic name “Thumper” but now became Chester, house rabbit with a family who loved him.

    Some would say that he was just a brown bunny but I felt differently. Looking more closely at his coat, there were many mottled shades. The rusty brown on the softest fur just behind his ears, cream color on his tummy, variegated gray-brown and shades of light and dark brown on his back, a beautiful little cotton tail with black on the top and white on the underside, and large ears tipped in black. We loved his wild rugged beauty. I felt inspired to put my novice art skills to work in creating a painting or drawing of him. Burnt ochre, raw umber, sienna brown, sepia…all those wonderful shades of brown. I wish that I had found the time to attempt a drawing.

    Chessie lived in our great room and he truly was the focal point of our gatherings. Each morning my son, daughter, husband or I would look forward to coming downstairs to “let Chessie out”. Placing his paws on the rungs and pressing his nose through the slats Chessie would wait eagerly for us to open the door of his cage so he could hop out into his xpen. Many days he was out from breakfast to bedtime. Our son and daughter spend a lot of time in the great room reading books. We would sit on the futon and read while Chessie was nearby. The Hobbit, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter. Chessie would sit as closely as possible to us, big ears attentive until the cadence of our voices would gently loll him to sleep. Then he would lay on his side, deeply dreaming, with his legs, ears, nose twitching as he seemed to run through a field of dandelions or clover. Sometimes he would fall asleep in a little patch of sunshine.

    Chessie came to recognize that the door to our deck led out to the garden. I loved to bring him organic lettuce while he sat in waiting like a chocolate Easter bunny. In the evenings Chessie would join my husband while he was watching t.v. We always laughed when he would thump impatiently for his pellet treat.

    I learned to be quiet, humble, and still so that Chessie could teach me his subtle form of communication. Once he was sitting in his hay box and he didn’t hop out of his cage as he usually did when his cage door was opened. When I asked him if he was o.k. He wiggled his nose repeatedly. I discovered that he would wiggle his nose to say “hello. I’m o.k.” just as a dog gently wags its tail while resting. One early morning when the house was still quiet before the busyness of the day I reached to gently touch his forehead and beautiful silky ears and I noticed him making a sound that was something like a coo and a purr combined. I had never heard him make such a sound and since bunnies are quiet little beings, I think he really had to work hard at making that sound. In my heart I undoubtedly knew what he was saying — “I am so happy. Thank you. I love you”. For me that is one of the most valued experiences of my life with him.

    Bunnies have a way of showing their love that is uniquely their own. A dog may wag its tail or bark but a bunny will put on a dance for you that is almost like a choreographed ballet, leaping into the air and kicking up his heels. On several occasions Chessie would hop a figure eight around my feet In uncontained excitement. I felt the same joy in seeing him.

    Chessie was part of our family for four years. Though it has been emotionally difficult for me to write, I want to honor his life and I hope to share (as have so many kind people here) the wonderful gift that bunnies can bring to our lives if we open our hearts to them. Chessie’s life is also a reminder to look in the least likely places (sometimes what seems too ordinary or broken) because often there you will find treasures. I know that his life has been a treasure for me.

    My Little Chessie
    Sweet Soul
    Book Buddy
    Beautiful Brown
    Forever Friend
    True Heart
    Love Always,
    Mom, Dad, Katie, and Mom

    • Tamsin says:

      Hi Debbie, Thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful brown bunny. I think people that don’t know bunnies get caught up in looks and they don’t realise what amazing little personalities are under the fluff. It sounds like Chester was very lucky to find some that recognised what a wonderful bunny he was (and appreciated that brown fluff is beautiful too!)

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