Lionhead rabbits can make great pets and bring you a lot of joy. However, to keep your bunny happy, you need to know the correct way to handle it, feed it, train it, and take care of its general health. In this article, we will discuss guidelines and tips on how to take care of a lionhead rabbit, and ensure that it is kept in good health and mind at all times.
The look of each lionhead rabbit is unique. Depending on their genes, the rabbit might be double-maned, single maned, or with no mane at all.
Lionhead rabbits are a recently created breed of domestic rabbits, which originated in Belgium. They have become a recognized breed by the ARBA, and can get Best in Show and Grand Champion titles like other breeds. They are the result of interbreeding miniature Swiss Fox and Netherland dwarf rabbits, to create a new dwarf breed with long fur. The lionhead rabbit usually has a small body, with long, bold fur around its head and on its sides. The rest of the body is covered with relatively short fur, making the longer hair look like a lion’s mane. This breed has a friendly disposition, as it likes the company of humans, making it a very popular pet in America and Europe.
Caring for your pet lionhead bunny is not difficult, if you know how. These animals are quite smart and can even be litter trained. Some of the things that you need to look out for is that, your rabbit has enough nutrition, a safe and peaceful environment to live in, regular exercise, and good grooming. Let us now take a look at every facet of caring for a lionhead rabbit, the problems you might face, and how to overcome them.
If you plan to keep your rabbit caged for a majority of the day, a large enclosure in needed for it to freely move around. Ideally, the size of the cage should be 8 sq. ft. in surface area and 2 ft. height. Avoid those enclosures which have wire mesh bases, as they will hurt the feet of the rabbit. However, if you must use such a cage, make sure to cover the base thoroughly with hay or a thick rug. Make sure you change and clean the rug regularly. The cage should have a separate closed-off corner, which it can use as its refuge when it wants rest or be alone. If your rabbit is an active digger, you must make sure that the base of the cage is hard enough to restrict it from escaping. Rabbits are known to defecate only in a particular spot in the enclosure. Place a litter box in that spot to make cleaning easier. Any hay that is placed inside the enclosure should be replaced every week.
If you plan to have the rabbit inside your home, a 4×2 ft. enclosure is enough for a lionhead. However, you must make sure that your rabbit is let out of the cage regularly for exercise. Prepare a home for the rabbit inside the enclosure. Use only wooden pellets or hay in the litter box. Avoid scented materials and bedding made of cedar, at all costs.
Lionheads are enthusiastic foodies. They love all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and seeds. So go free with apples, apricots, peaches, carrots, radish, turnips, lettuce, etc. However, some vegetables can make your rabbit sick when given in large quantities, such as cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, peanuts, tomatoes, and any other houseplants. If you must feed them these vegetables, make sure you do so only in small quantities. You can also find seed and fruit mixes for rabbits in pet shops. Use them in intervals to give your lionhead a change. Rabbits need something hard to chew on for maintaining their teeth. Wood from fruit trees is the best option for this. Ensure that the wood is washed properly before giving it to your rabbit, to avoid poisoning by pesticides. If you don’t have wood, commercially made chew products will also work.
Important: Some foods can be deadly to rabbits. Potatoes or the plant, cheese, alcohol, sugar, sweetened cereal, chocolate, and coffee are to be completely kept away. Also avoid any store-bought items that are not vegetarian.
Rabbits dehydrate very fast. Hence, you must ensure that freshwater is always available for your lionhead to drink. Tie up the water bowl to the cage so that water spills are avoided. Clean the bowl once everyday. If the climate is warm, give them water that is chilled, because heat and dehydration can kill your rabbit.
Unlike other short-haired rabbits, grooming is very necessary for lionhead rabbits. Regular grooming done correctly will prevent the long fur from getting matted, and also avoids balls of fur getting lodged in the rabbits intestine. Soon after you bring your lionhead home, take it to a vet to learn the correct procedure to groom the fur and clip the nails. For grooming, you will need tools like a rabbit comb, pet nail clippers, and a soft hairbrush.
These rabbits need a lot of exercise to stay healthy. Use toys like balls, large tubes, bells, etc., when indoors. Experimentation is your best bet; however, make sure that the materials you are using are not toxic or hazardous in any way. If you plan to let your rabbit outdoors in your garden or yard, see that the area is secured and the rabbit cannot escape. It is always best to keep your pet under constant supervision when outside, to protect it from any danger that might present itself.
- Always remember, rabbits are very timid creatures, and they get scared easily. So, even smiling while baring your teeth can be confused with a threat. It is important to build a good relation of trust as soon as possible, so your rabbit lives a stress-free life.
- A nervous rabbit chews on everything in sight. Training a rabbit early will stop it from chewing on electrical wires and furniture, and keep it safe.
- If your bunny is always trying to hide and struggles violently if you pick it up, it is a sure sign of stress.
- Lionheads might sometimes lightly bite their owners as a sign of familiarity.
- The males are more adventurous and will always try to expand their knowledge of their territories. Females, on the other hand, are more docile and will usually stay close to their owners.
- If your friendly rabbit suddenly turns indifferent and hides from you for a considerable period of time, check for signs of diarrhea or constipation. If you find signs of illness, consult a vet immediately.
Lice, Fleas, and Mites
Lice usually affect rabbits when the surroundings are not clean, and the animal is not kept hygienically. They can cause severe itching, hair loss, and ulcers. These insects can be noticed by the presence of eggs on the fur. Good grooming and thorough cleaning of the cage will help get rid of lice. Mites cause infections of the skin such as scabies. Symptoms of an infestation are bad skin, and constant itching and scratching. Take your lionhead to a vet as soon as possible to take care of this problem. Fleas come from wild rabbits and cats; they cause itchiness and allergies. Cleaning the place and using appropriate insecticidal sprays can help get rid of them.
Worms are a very serious problem for lionhead rabbits. Severe cases may cause blindness, paralysis, kidney damage, convulsions, and sometimes even death. The worst part is that, rabbits may not show any symptoms. The only way to prevent any problem is to go to the vet regularly for checkups. Veterinarians will be able to diagnose and provide the correct medication for the said problem.
This is a very serious viral disease, and is normally spread by pests such as fleas and ticks. The disease is usually fatal and causes the rabbit to die within two weeks. The symptoms of this disease are runny red eyes, pus discharge from the nose, and swellings in the head and genitals. There is no cure for this disease, and euthanasia is usually suggested if it is diagnosed. However, the disease can be prevented with an early vaccination. A vaccinated rabbit may still get the disease, but the condition is less severe and can be treated.
Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
This is another serious disease, which may or may not show symptoms. The disease is nearly always fatal. It is contracted through other infected animals, food and water, and pests. There is no cure, and rabbits usually die in a day or two. The symptoms are similar to those of an intestinal worm infection. If you notice any symptom, immediately separate the rabbit from your other pets, and visit the vet.
This disease can be prevented by neutering the rabbit, and it will also stop the cancer from spreading to other organs. However, special care needs to be taken when neutering your pet. After the operation, keep a watch on the rabbit to see if its behavior towards food and rest is normal. If it is not, contact the vet. Neutering will not harm the rabbit in any way, and may actually make the temperament of the animal calmer.
This condition occurs when the rabbit has damp or dirty fur. This kind of fur can attract green bottle flies to lay eggs, which turn into larvae, and they burrow under the skin of the rabbit. This causes the rabbit a lot of pain, and it may also contribute to blood poisoning. Keeping you lionhead bunny clean and dry will prevent this problem. However, if already infected, visit the vet as soon as possible, as a delay could be fatal. Litter training can also help prevent a lot of these problems.
Now that you are equipped with this basic lionhead rabbit care information, you will understand your responsibilities well before bringing one of them home. A healthy and happy lionhead rabbit will live long, and give you immense joy for a long time to come.