header photo

Gauteng Rabbit Breeders Association

The Home of the Commercial and Fancy Rabbit Breeds in Gauteng



Unlike most rabbit breeders in South Africa, I have experienced Lops first hand, and yes they are the most intelligent, outgoing and personality driven breed of all breeds.

In the ‘60’s Prof. Chris Barnard of heart transplant fame, imported a unit of German Lops into South Africa to be used in a research laboratory at Groote Schuur Hospital where they were doing testing on tissue matching ahead of the transplant operations. They chose the Lop because of its big ears.

However, they could not persuade these animals to breed and my mother was called in to help. She brought them home and after a while, and some out crossing, got them going. She supplied the lab with their requirement and the balance stayed with her. (There was no cruelty involved with the tests; they sort skin scrapes from the ears only)

Among the imports was a buck called George and he was sent to several shows around the country to show breeders this new breed and George got himself a terrible reputation. He could get out of any cage at will, and did! He was also the most virile buck of all time – and as easily as he could get out of cages he could also get into them and he chose does at every show to visit. Needless to say a string of little loppy eared children arrived unexpectedly all over the place. He was also very carefully guarded on the judging table as he caught many a young doe unawares to further his line. Pest!!

At home my mom gave up trying to keep him in and George had the run of the garden and the house if he so chose and no cat or Pekinese (of which there were many) was safe from his advances.

I came home from school one day to find my mom in tears. George was dying – she had found him at the kitchen door, lying on his side, with his head back and not conscious. She had put him onto the kitchen table and was rushing to find car keys to rush him to a vet. On the table was a bowl of liver waiting to be cut up for the dogs and when we walked back into the kitchen we were shocked to find a very wobbly George sitting up and gorging in raw liver!

A cage was set up for him in the kitchen were he could be kept warm and under control and rabbit food and water was offered to him. He peed on the food and ignored the water. All he ate for 4 days was raw liver, and recovered his strength in that time. On the 5th day he was offered his liver again and he looked at mom as if she was completely mad. He was a rabbit and wanted rabbit food and lots of it to make up for lost time. 

George lived on and terrorised the other animals of the household for 5 or 6 years and died of old age in his favourite spot under a peach tree.

A large portion of mom’s commercial herd was made up of Lops, which certainly proved their worth. They were the big German/French Lop and not the mini’s that are now so very popular throughout the world. When she retired from breeding the herd was spread out to various breeders. I took on only her angora herd and the Himalayans. And Lops went out of fashion and the herd was lost. 

The gene that makes the crown on the top of the head is specific to lops and without that gene it is not possible to breed back this breed. Unless some of the original herd can be found, which is highly unlikely, we will never have the pleasure of this delightful breed in South Africa again.

There is constant talk of the ban on importation and the danger of bringing in diseases that we don’t have. I would like to stress that the importation of the Lops was what introduced PASTURELLA to South Africa. It came in with the imports and still plagues breeders in this country.