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A harlequin Mini Lop may provide hours of entertainment just like a jester, but that's not the reason for his unusual name. Mini Lop refers to the breed of rabbit, which is one of 47 rabbit breeds officially recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, while harlequin describes the color and pattern of his fur coat.
Mini Lop Breed
The Mini Lop is a breed of rabbit characterized by its floppy ears, round head and full body. It is a medium-sized rabbit, weighing no more than six and one-half pounds, with ears that fall straight down just past the chin. The Mini Lop is similar to, but much smaller than its relative, the French Lop, a breed which has no maximum weight limit and often reaches 10 to 12 pounds. Besides its distinctive floppy ears, the Mini Lop has a body that full and round, almost looks like a half of a basketball when viewed from the side.
Harlequin Pattern and Color
Harlequin as a color in rabbits, including Mini Lops is an alternating pattern of either black and orange or white and black. It is similar to tortoiseshell coloring in cats, but with an obvious pattern of patches. For example, one half of the rabbit's face will be orange with a black ear, and the other half black with an orange ear. The alternating pattern continues over the body, ideally with the two colors meeting at the center of the rabbit's back. A combination of either black, blue, chocolate or lilac with orange is called Japanese harlequin, while any of the darker colors alternating with white is referred to as Magpie harlequin. A harlequin Mini Lop has either Japanese or Magpie harlequin coloring. While pretty to look at, the color is not an officially recognized variety of the breed.
In addition to being a color pattern, Harlequin is also a breed of rabbit, sometimes leading to confusion. The breed also has the Japanese or Magpie harlequin coloring for which it is named, but is much different from a Mini Lop in size and shape. The average Harlequin weighs up to nine and one-half pounds, has straight, upright ears and a commercial meat-production body type, with a large, full rump.
Tri-Color Mini Lop
A harlequin-colored Mini Lop is the only variety that has the capability of producing a tri-color Mini Lop. A tri-color has black and orange spots on a white background. When crossed with a rabbit that has a spotted pattern, technically called "broken" because the color spots break up the white, the result can be a tri-colored baby. This color pattern is similar to a calico pattern in cats, but usually with more white than orange and black.