Lion Head Bunnies
How to Care for Lionhead Bunnies
Lionhead bunnies are a relatively new breed of rabbit. In fact, lionheads have only been recognized as an official domestic rabbit breed since 2002 in the United Kingdom and have not yet been approved as an official breed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The lionhead rabbit was originally created in Belgium. Lionheads are not a naturally-occurring species. They were developed by crossbreeding a bunny of Swiss fox and Belgian dwarf descent with an Angora dwarf rabbit. The result was a rabbit that displayed a mutated fur gene that gave it a long tuft of fur around the head, like a lion’s mane.
Lionhead bunnies are becoming very popular because they not only have a unique and undoubtedly cuddly appearance, but they also have an easy-going and calm temperament that is favored by individuals that want to avoid hyperactive pets. Lionheads do have special needs that inexperienced rabbit owners may be unaware of. In order to ensure that a lionhead rabbit is cared for as well as possible, potential owners should endeavor to follow the care guidelines detailed below.
It is a good idea to have a housing area set up for the rabbit before he is brought home. Lionheads fare best when kept indoors because they crave being close to humans and being given frequent bouts of attention. Although the lionhead rabbit may successfully be kept in an outdoor rabbit hutch, the animal will certainly not be happy in this kind of lifestyle. An indoor rabbit cage will suit the animal very well and most pet stores offer a variety of styles to complement indoor environments. The floor of the housing should contain bedding, such as blankets, straw, or newspapers, which will need to be changed out on a regular basis. Investing in a rabbit cage that has removable flooring will make this task much easier.
The rabbit’s home should also have a litter box to cut back on messes and to promote better overall health. Humans don’t like to wade through feces and neither do rabbits! A food tray and a water bottle should be fitted to the cage and should be cleaned with hot soapy water every few days to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Remember that the lionhead rabbit has a lot of fur and is prone to becoming overheated; therefore, it is a good idea to place the cage in a comfortable location that is not too close to central heating vents, radiators, or heaters.
The primary source of nutrients for a lionhead rabbit will be rabbit pellets, which can be purchased at any pet store. The amount of food that the rabbit will require depends on its size. A rabbit that weighs less than pounds should be fed only one quarter-cup of pellets each day. A rabbit that weighs between seven and ten pounds should be given one half-cup of pellets each day and a rabbit that weighs between 11 and 15 pounds should be given three-quarters of a cup of food each day. A lionhead older than three months of age should also be given supplemental foods not only to boost his nutrition but to help keep his teeth in good shape. Raw vegetables such as carrots, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, and mustard greens can be included in the rabbit’s diet in moderation. The rabbit should have access to hay at any time of the day. A slice of apple or a few pieces of banana can be given to the rabbit once or twice a week as a treat but should not be provided on a regular basis. The water bottle should be replenished with fresh water every day.
Just like humans, rabbits require regular health checkups to make sure that they are in good overall health. This is also a good way to monitor the rabbit’s growth. Owners may want to consider having their rabbit spayed or neutered. The rabbit will need to be vaccinated against two diseases: myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease (also known as VHD). Lionhead bunnies have an increased risk of developing dental problems than other breeds and therefore it is important to have the rabbit’s teeth checked at least once a year by a veterinarian. Chewing toys specifically designed for rabbits can be purchased at most pet stores and can go a long way in preventing tooth decay and other dental issues.
Lionhead bunnies require a little extra grooming than most other species of domesticated rabbit. Most lionheads have medium to long fur all over the body, which should be brushed regularly. Dry shampoo products can be purchased at most pet supply stores and can be used to freshen up the rabbit’s fur as needed. The rabbit’s mane should be gently brushed at least once a week. The mane is usually at least two inches in length and can easily become matted if it is not regularly combed. Most lionhead bunnies will experience moulting periods which involves heavy shedding of excess wool. During this time the owner should be prepared to brush the rabbit’s fur each day to help remove excess wool.
Owning a lionhead rabbit can be a real joy. Although this is definitely a cuddly breed, it is also intelligent and calm. As long as the animal is handled properly and treated with gentility, this breed would make a great pet for children and adults alike.