The Belgian hare is closely related to the physical appearance of the hare you see in the wild. This breed of domestic rabbit was actually formed through selective breeding processes. An average Belgian hare weighs about 6 to 9 lbs. which is actually belongs to the large-sized category. The body shape is full arched, long, and slender. Their legs are long and agile which can be similarly compared to the wild hares. They have long head, straight tail, tall and erect ears. Their fur is short and glossy which is very manageable and easy to maintain. They have an average lifespan of around 7 to 10 years, but healthy rabbits can live a little beyond their average lifespan.
A pure Belgian hare rabbit comes only in one color which is bright, tin rust with some reddish orange tint. This is also the one and only Belgian hare colorization that ARBA accepts.
Behavior and Temperament
Some rabbit breeds may require a little maintenance but the Belgian hare may require a little more than the usual due to the fact that these breed is highly energetic and also because of their large size. They are also very strong and agile and can jump extra higher than the other breeds because of their long and strong hind legs.
They can live indoors and become companion pets because of their tamed nature. However, compared to other rabbit breeds that are calm and relax, the Belgian hare can be a little extra panicky and easily gets nervous. This behavior shows when noises and unfamiliar sounds are heard nearby. When this happens, they tend to jump high and start to run around in their cage which may cause them injury. But these traits must not stop you from owning one because overall, the Belgian hare are sweet and docile in nature.
To make sure they are in their proper behavior, it would be best to keep them with you and away from children and strangers until they get familiar with them. Their large size also makes them unsuitable for young children who are fond of touching and handling pets. Though this rabbit breed can be picked up and handled, it is important that doing it the proper way must be followed to avoid accidents and injuries.
Health and Care
Since Belgian hare belongs to the large-sized category, they must be housed in a large cage where enough space is still available for stretching and some recreation. A spacious rabbit hutch is more recommended than cages. The size of their confinement area must be around 24 x 60 inches minimum in terms of dimension and the ceiling of their cage must be at least 24 inches high to accommodate their long erect ears. Cage must be cleaned often and replace bedding once or twice a week to avoid them from smelling.
Unlike other rabbit breeds, this breed could have high tolerance for cold weather but you still have to make sure to give them enough protection during extreme cold temperatures. During summer provide them with proper ventilation so they can survive hot temperature and prevent them from suffering from heat stroke.
Fresh grass hay is a must for their diet. In fact 70 percent of their diet must consist only of grass hay. The other percentage must be composed of vitamin-rich vegetables such as rabbit-safe leafy greens, carrots, formulated pellets and fruits. Make sure to avoid giving them rabbit prohibited food that can be toxic for them such as iceberg lettuce and wild plants.
Because of their short fur, this breed is not exposed to hairball disease. However, you still need to maintain their coat and fur as part of their hygiene. Brush them regularly with a fine-tooth rabbit hair brush to also avoid shedding hair from scattering in the air. You also need to do a regular fur and ear check to make sure no fleas and mites are residing on your pet. For internal health, you can ask your rabbit veterinarian to provide you with a rabbit safe deworming medicine.
History and Background of the Belgian Hare
Belgian hare breed started during the 18th century in Belgium. They have been selectively bred from both domestic and wild European rabbit breeds to develop a commercial rabbit suitable for meat production. The first developed breeds were transported to England in 1856 but the appearance of the breed is different from today’s Belgian hare. The current and final appearance of this breed was developed and finalized in 1873 by William Lumb and Benjamin Greaves.
In 1877, the Belgian hare breed was brought to America and the popularity started to grow. In 1897, the National Belgian Hare club was created. As of this time, aside from meat production, Belgian hare as house pets had become popular and this breed is also present in rabbit shows.