The Lionhead rabbit is a small breed that displays a rounded body. What makes it unique from other rabbit breeds is its coating, which is often referred to as “wool mane”. The mane usually reaches an average of 2 inches in length and gives the appearance of a lion, thus the name Lionhead.
There are two types of mane associated with this breed: single and double mane. The most effective way to tell if it has a single or double mane is to examine the wool after birth directly. Adult Lionhead rabbit generally weighs 3 lbs., which makes it as heavy as most small sized breeds while a little bit bigger than dwarf sized rabbits.
Behavior and Temperament
Aside from its unique appearance, this breed is popular among children and adult rabbit enthusiasts due to its very playful and active nature. It loves to interact with humans as well as other animals, so considerable amount of playtime and bonding moments must be given on a regular basis to keep it healthy and happy. When this requirement is neglected, the rabbit will likely develop boredom and inactivity, which can lead to self-inflicted harm and other health issues.
Just like with most breeds, making initial acquaintances with this rabbit will take much time and effort. At first, it will show its shy side and may not even be willing to interact. This is a normal part of its behavior and self-defense mechanism. The most important thing is to build trust slowly. Also, you must always practice long patience and understanding every time you are dealing with this breed. Rabbits are very emotional animals and extremely sensitive to negative emotions and feelings. If it detects slightest signs of anger and hate such as shouting, building trust will be twice as harder.
Although small, this breed also requires a lot of space to be able to move around freely and explore its surroundings. Providing it with a spacious enclosure or cage is also a must. When it feels trapped or enclosed in a small space, it will probably develop both mental and physical issues. To further make its playtime effective, you must allow it a few hours out of its cage on a daily basis. Providing toys made especially for rabbits is also an effective option to develop its mind and body.
There have also been cases of aggressiveness, especially with children. This breed can easily be frightened and stressed when handled improperly by small children, which then results in aggressive behavior. To avoid this problem, always make sure that children are supervised by an adult especially those who are handling this pet for the first time.
Health and Care
The care requirements and diet of Lionhead rabbits are generally the same with other breeds. The daily diet must consist of 70% fresh hay, with rest consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables. A common rabbit disease that this breed is more susceptible to developing is dental issues such as an overgrown tooth. This irritating condition occurs when the tooth grows excessively, piercing through the face. Clearly, this is a very painful and serious condition that can be prevented by regularly feeding hay, which naturally chips the tooth to its natural size. When left untreated, this condition can lead to death.
Another condition that is common among this breed is hairballs, which are fallen hairs that accumulate in its stomach and turn into a hairball. Hairballs can cause digestive issues that will eventually lead to death. To prevent this, make sure to brush the coat and remove all fallen hairs regularly. During shedding season, brushing should be done more to avoid hairballs.
History and Background of Lionhead Rabbit
The origin of this breed is still up for debate with various versions as to where it really started. Some rabbit enthusiasts claim that it started in Belgium where breeders wanted to develop a dwarf sized breed with a long coating. What’s certain is that it originated in Europe with the Dwarf Angora playing a major part in its development.
Lionhead rabbit is considered as one of the newest breeds and was recognized by the British Rabbit Council in 2002. It was initially exported to the USA in the 1990s and is now being review by ABRA as a possible new breed.