Long Ear Society Touts Rabbits

July 31, 2001 11:00 pm
FAIR FUN: Members of the Long Ear Society, left to right, Becca Johnson, Michelle Johnson, Amber Hiatt and Casey Keating handle their rabbits Tuesday at the Union County Fair. Michelle Johnson is the 4-H club's leader. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
FAIR FUN: Members of the Long Ear Society, left to right, Becca Johnson, Michelle Johnson, Amber Hiatt and Casey Keating handle their rabbits Tuesday at the Union County Fair. Michelle Johnson is the 4-H club's leader. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Rabbits are not scholarly creatures but some have an affinity for homework.

Just ask Becca Johnson of La Grande.

One of Johnsons rabbits once ate a homework assignment she had completed. Johnson told her teacher but she was not particularly sympathetic.

I am sure that she believed me, Johnson said.

Johnson, a La Grande High School senior, is a member of the Long Ear Society,

La Grandes 4-H rabbit club. Its members are among those who have animals entered in this years rabbit judging competition at the Union County Fair, which continues through Saturday.

Everyone who has rabbits entered knows that they will eat almost anything.

You have to be careful when you have them inside your house because they will even chew through wires, Johnson said.

Rabbits are brought inside because they can be trained to use a litter box.

The rabbits at the Union County Fair will be judged on such things as how well they are groomed. Entrants spend a great deal of time cleaning and combing their fur and trimming their nails.

The animals are also judged on how well they meet the characteristics of their breed. For example, English lops and mini rex rabbits have different ear size standards.

Rabbits also must not have certain defects to qualify for champion ribbons. One defect judges look for is buck-a-wolf teeth. These are teeth which do not line up when the mouth is closed. The condition is known as malocclusion.

Michelle Johnson, the adult leader of the Long Ear Society, said that traits like malocclusion can be bred out of rabbits.

Rabbit owners who have spent time walking their rabbits in halters and leashes might fare better in competition. None of the rabbits will be wearing leashes or halters at the fair.

They are easier to work with if they have been handled, said Twila Petersohn, superintendent of the small animal barn at the fair.

Many members of the Long Ear Society have been raising rabbits for several years. Michelle Johnson said that raising rabbits is rewarding but there is one drawback.

You can breed too many rabbits very easily, she said.

A female can have up to eight litters a year, she said. Rabbits reproduce quickly because they give birth only one month after breeding.