Rabbit raiser

PhilipScooby-1.jpg
PhilipScooby-1.jpg

Philip Ediger of Hillsboro demonstrates how easy it is to hypnotize his ruby-eyed white Holland Lop, Scooby Roo, a brood doe. Philip and his mom, Robin, have invited students in the small animal science class at Hillsboro High School to tour their family rabbitry. In addition to showing the Holland Lop rabbits, they also sell some to help defray expenses.

One Hillsboro youth and his rabbits have been making a name for themselves since 2006.

Philip Ediger, 12, is currently ranked first nationally in the 2008 Holland Lop Youth Sweepstakes, which is an accumulation of show points, but it?s definitely been a family affair.

?Without my husband, Allen, and our other son, Nick, who is 15, we wouldn?t be able to do it,? said Philip?s mom, Robin.

In fact, she is no stranger to having lots of pets either.

?Growing up on a farm northwest of Tribune,? she said, ?we had everything ? cats, dogs, geese, ducks, cows ? you name it.?

When Robin first got married, she and her husband, Allen, didn?t have any pets.

Due to an allergic reaction to cats, Robin decided a rabbit might be a safe alternative.

?We also have a family dog, Penny, an 8-year-old Golden Retriever,? she said.

Holland Lop rabbits, though, wouldn?t become a major part of their family until early in 2000 when Robin and her family went to a national convention at Century II in Wichita.

?We walked around looking at all the different breeds of rabbits, but one particular breed kept hopping to the front of their cages,? she said.

After they came home from the American Rabbit Breeders Association convention with more than 25,000 rabbits showcased, she discovered there was a Kansas breeder.

?We also discovered one of the friendliest breeds were Holland Lops? she said.

The family?s first Holland Lop was bought in Hutchinson and he was named Cheerio.

Not long after, they bought two more rabbits?a Netherland Dwarf named Speedy Gonzalez and a Dutch rabbit named Weasley. Within six months after buying Cheerio, Robin said he got sick and died.

?We started searching for more Holland Lop rabbits because Cheerio was so friendly,? she said.

While searching for a new rabbit, Robin met a woman who would change the way she looked at rabbits forever. Mary Rubeck of Towanda, near Wichita, sold the Edigers two Holland Lop bunnies.

Every few months off and on, Robin said she would check the Inter?net and find a brood doe (a female rabbit used primarily for mating) or herd buck (a male rabbit) and purchase it.

?By the first of March 2006, we started showing,? she said, ?and we have been successful because of Mary and others who have mentored us along the way.?

Philip said he has met great people from Missouri, Okla?homa, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas.

?When we go to a show, they help us with strengths and weaknesses,? Robin said.

As for the many rabbits who are now a part of the family, Robin said every one of them has a name. ?We have picked different themes,? she said, ?like Alvin and the chipmunks, cartoon characters or candy bars.?

With so many mouths to feed, Robin and Philip also sell Holland Lops to defray expenses and help pay for shows.

This year, Philip has been to 25 shows and has tallied up 8,138 points in the national arena. A Pennsylvania youth is in second place with 31 shows and 7,858 points and the third place contender from Ohio has 25 shows for a total of 6,068 points.

Philip also is in second place with quality points. Holland Lop Rabbit Specialty Club members earn two quality points for each Best of Breed and Best in Show and one quality point for each Best Opposite Sex and Best Reserve in Show.

He is fourth in Herdsman of the Year, which are points awarded to club members for each different rabbit that wins a Best of Breed or Best Opposite Sex in sanctioned shows.

This year, the big event was in Louisville, Ky., and Robin said some friends took six of Philip?s rabbits. ?Two of the rabbits placed in the Top 10, with more than 25,000 other rabbits competing,? she said.

One of Philip?s goals is to go to the national convention in Pueblo, Colo. in two years.

?The hardest part of raising rabbits is having to sell them,? Philip said.

Even though he knows it?s a necessary part of the process, it is still difficult to let them go. Every litter gets a lot of tender-loving care. ?I can?t help but get attached,? Philip said as he fed Mojo, a tort brown, who had his entire head buried in the oatmeal box. Mojo, he said, is also one of his dad?s favorites.

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