Lionheads are super rabbits, I had one for many years who was one of the sweetest rabbits I have ever owned. Generally they are pretty much the same as other rabbits but they do require a little more care with regards to their coat.
Rabbits need space, they are used to travelling many miles each day while grazing. The cages that are sold in pet shops are simply not large enough. If at all possible you should leave your rabbit out to roam around the garden or your house. Rabbits can be litter trained and some people allow them to roam 24/7 which is the ideal situation for a bunny.
Rabbits require a good healthy diet, while they can live off rabbit food from pet shops to have your bunny be in the best health possible you should be feeding fresh veg and hay on a daily basis. Carrots, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, the possibilities are endless, they even like a little apple every once is a while. It is of course vital that you ensure that there is fresh water available to your rabbit at all time.
Rabbits are generally very good at keeping themselves clean, lionheads will require some brushing regularly to ensure that they don't end up with matts in their long hair. Pay particular attention to their bum area to ensure that no faecal matter has gotten caught in their hair.
Rabbits do enjoy the company of other rabbits and it is beneficial for them to have a bunny friend. The best mix is a neutered male and female as male/male and female/female will often fight.
I have only held and loved one lionhead rabbit and he is my house rabbit called Google. He is the most beautiful little man in all the world!
Lionheads are so called because they have a smooth body but around their heads have a lion style mane. This fur can get quite long. They tend to be quite small, as they are crossed with the Belgium Dwarf. However, ours is a decent size. I think they just do not tend to grow as big as some domestic rabbits that are frequently overfed.
Like Angora rabbits (thought obviously to a much lesser degree) they must be groomed. Ours hates it and so we have tended to give up on the idea but then we notice that he sometimes develops clumps on matted fur behind his ears, where his mane is longest (some strands are up to 5 inches long). We then have to cut them out, which is traumatic for all concerned. So I would recommend a regular groom.
Ours is a bit of a grumpy bunny at times and can in but I don't think this is reflection on the breed. This is just because he is a house rabbit with a whole room to himself and so he has become quite territorial because there is too much space for him to defend by himself (most domestic bunnies would give anything to be in his position!) He's very lovely though and gives lots of kisses and wants constant company, attention and cuddles.
A really lovely breed.
What is a Lionhead rabbit?
Lionhead rabbits have a fluffy mane, which is how they got their name. They come in many different colours and can range in size as they are quite a new breed and are still developing.
Lionheads are a great pets as well as good show rabbits as they are very attractive due to their long beautiful mane and they also are very friendly and enjoy attention. The picture at the top of the page shows what an average lionhead rabbit looks like although the size of the mane can vary and females (does) often have less of a mane than the males.
The lionhead history
The lionhead rabbit is a relatively new breed, which arrived in England in about 1996. It is believe that the lionhead rabbit originated in Belgium and was produced by breeding a combination of the Swiss Fox and Belgian dwarf as well as the Jersey Woolie. The lionhead rabbit became a very popular breed and since then has been bred more and more.
My lionhead bunny
Now i cant do a review on lionhead rabbits without giving my beautiful bunny Snuffles a mention!! A few months ago my boyfriend and i visited a house to buy a chair (my boyfriend deals antiques) whilst waiting in the car a young girl came up to me holding a beautiful little rabbit ...it looked very different to rabbits i had owned before and she explained to me that it was a lionhead rabbit and she told me a bit about the breed. I immediately insisted to my boyfriend that we had to get one and the girl took us to see all the babies for sale. I immediately fell in love with a gorgeous little white one with a grey nose. Luckily i was able to see both of its parents and saw that they were healthy and had a good temperament and so i convinced my boyfriend that he should shell out £35 for this bunny!
I have since discovered that my bunny is a male and I have called him snuffles because his grey nose looks so cute as he sniffs around. He has doubled in size since I brought him and he is so friendly. I will continue to tell you about him in the different sections.
Rabbits eat quite alot and should have specially prepared rabbit food as it gives them the nutrition they need and provides the different textures they need for healthy teeth. I have tried various different rabbit foods but currently Snuffles eats 2 bowls of 'bunny brunch' a day - one in the morning and one in the evening. Rabbits should always have fresh water available and its best to change the water daily.
It is also important to give rabbits fresh fruit and veg. Ideal foods are carrot, tomatoes, orange, banana, grass etc. You should not give rabbits too much lettuce as it can make them poorly and they should not be given human breakfast cereals or chocolate as it can poison them.
Hutches and Runs
Rabbits need a warm, clean space to sleep and live, and a large hutch is ideal as long as it has clean fresh hay and is cleaned out regularly. Many people still use sawdust in their rabbits hutches but there are increased concerns that it could be dangerous for the bunny so i line the hutch with newspaper which soaks up the urine and then put plently of fresh hay on top and then fill the bedroom compartment with hay so that my bunny can create a little bed.
Rabbits also need plenty of exercise so a large spacious run is necessary so the bunny can run around safely outside. I made a run for Snuffles (im very proud!!) out of long beams of wood and chicken wire. The run should have secure lids to prevent cats etc getting in and if your bunny is prone to digging attach chicken wire to the bottom of the run so that your bunny cant escape!!
Rabbits like to nibble on grass but eating too much can make them poorly so i often move the run onto the concrete for a while so that he can wear his claws down a bit. The run should contain some form of shelter incase your bunny gets scared or cold and it is a good idea to put in some toys.
Rabbits are very playful creatures and love to investigate things. You can by colourful toys such as rattle balls in most pet shops which are designed specially for rabbits. It is very important to provide mental stimulation for your bunny or it will get bored. Snuffles loves playing with boxes, pushing them around, jumping in and on them and chewing on them etc. Rabbits also like to knaw which helps keep their teeth healthy but many woods can be poisonous to bunnies so apple tree wood is the best option.
Many people are supprised at the fact that it is easy to litter train rabbits. You need patience but as rabbits naturally go to the toilet in the same place they are not too hard to train. I brought a corner litter tray and place it in the corner of the hutch that my bunny uses as a toilet - this encouraged him to go to the toilet in it! I then put toilet roll in the bottom of the litter tray so that it absorbs the urine and also got my bunny used to associating toilet roll with where hes allowed to go to the toilet. I often let Snuffles have a run around the house and i would take the litter box from his hutch and put it in a quiet corner of the room and now he always goes there to do his wees!! poos hes not so good with because he's a bit lazy but they are so easy to pick up that the odd couple arent too bad. I now have a washing up bowl with toilet tissue in it which he uses as it stops him accidentally spraying over the edge. I also put a bit of hay at one end as he likes to have a munch while doing his business!!
Rabbits make great house pets, it also gives them more space to explore and they can get more attention! Obviously having a house rabbit is not suitable for everyone as you need to keep and eye on your bunny and bunny proof the rooms that it will have access to - protecting wires etc. Once my bunny was litter trained i let him spend more and more time in the house. It has increased his confidence as well as his intelligence! When he wants a cuddle he will jump on my lap and then stretch up on his back legs and lick my nose which is SOOOOOOO CUTE!!!! He gets on well with my dog but mainly because my dog is terrified of him!! We arent quite sure why but even though my dog is about 20 times the size of the rabbit yet she still shakes when snuffles is in the room!! Snuffles now knows how to get his own way and often winds up the dog by chasing her!!!
If you can let your rabbit safely play in your house even if they only have access to a room it makes their life a lot more interesting.
As you spend more time with your bunny you will get to know their behaviour more. When rabbits do funny little jumps and twists they are playing because they are contented, stamping is often in protest or as a warning, for example after a play session and i put Snuffles back in his hutch he often stamps to say that hes not finished playing yet! Repeated stamping indicates distress and the rabbit should be comforted immediately. If a rabbit is scared its ears will be pulled flat against its head instead of standing erect.
Lio nhead rabbits moult regularly, and so some may completely loose their fluffy mane during a moult but it will grow back. Snuffles has moulted once since I have had him and being white it meant that every item of clothes, furniture etc was covered in white fluff! A rabbit will normally moult over a week and will need daily grooming.
Lionhead rabbits need grooming as they regularly clean themselves but as they have such a furry mane they can get hairballs like cats do - however rabbits CAN NOT vomit and hairballs will block their digestive system and the rabbit will starve to death. I have a special brush and I brush snuffles daily and he now quite enjoys the attention!!
If you do not want to breed your rabbit it is a good idea to get it spayed or neutered. Unaltered female rabbits are 70% more likely to die of cancer than spayed females. Neutering will also prevent male rabbits from 'scenting' (weeing and pooing around your house!) It is also important to keep an eye on the length of your rabbits nails. Snuffles has his run on the concrete now and again to help wear his down but if you feel your rabbits claws are getting too long then they should be trimmed very carefully - its probably best to get the vet to do them the first time so you know how to do it!
Rabbits should be vaccinated against VHD and myxomatosis. I will explain a bit about each of these.
***** VHD *****
VHD is 'Viral Haemorrhagic Disease' it can be caught by any rabbit and kills most of those that get it. VHD cannot be passed onto humans or other pets. There are many ways that a rabbit can contract VHD such as through contaminated hay, grass or drinking water, insects and birds can also bring in the disease. The disease can also be blown in the wind or brought in on the bottoms of your shoes or by other pets - eg cats and dogs. Therefore it is very important to get your rabbit vaccinated against VHD and then is given a booster injection every year.
***** Myxomatosis *****
Myxomatosis is another viral disease, which can be caught by pet rabbits. The wild rabbit flea or the common fly can transmit it and sadly most bunnies will die within 3 weeks of contracting the disease. Luckily rabbits can be vaccinated against this too although after the first injection your rabbit should be injected every 6 months.
Both injections can only be given by the vet and from my research can cost anything between £10 and £30 depending on your vet.
Below is a list of the equipment you will need if you wish to get a lionhead bunny.
- A spacious hutch
- a water bottle
- a food bowl
- a brush to clean the hutch
- special rabbit hutch disinfectant
- a large secure run
- rabbit food
- a suitable grooming brush
- litter trays
- a carry box for vet visits etc
Lionhead rabbits breed well and the does make good mothers, however as with all pets, breeding should not even be considered if you feel you would not be able to provide a good home for all of the babies. Even if people say they would like a baby if it was born you should bare in mind that they may change there mind and so you need to be able to look after and suitably care for all of the babies. Also it is important to remember the amount of pets that are abandoned so if you are selling or giving away one of the babies you should make sure they go to a good home.
Rabbits love the company of humans once they have formed a bond with you but they can also get on with other animals too. Rabbits and guinea pigs tend to get on well together but they should never be kept in the same hutch as the rabbit has powerful back legs and could accidently hurt the guinea pig. If you want to keep two or more rabbits together males are best as they do not fight. Female rabbits can be very aggressive and it is best to keep them separated. Spaying a female can cut down the aggression levels but if you want a loving friendly pet you are probably better opting for a male although without being neutered they may occasionally hump your leg!!!
Snuffles has recently gained a friend in the form of Lukka who before being castrated was a nightmare as he kept getting jiggy with Snuffles head which he hated but once the hormones were gone they get on brilliantly. I worked quite hard to bond them before leaving them alone together but now they absolutely love each other. They groom each other and cuddle up together to go to sleep, which is just too cute!!!
Suitable for children?
In some aspects, these are great pets for children in the sense that they are good-natured and rarely bite. However as with all pets rabbits need a great deal of care and a child cannot be expected to clean out a hutch regularly on their own or groom and play with the rabbit because children themselves are still dependant on their parents and are certainly not capable of being solely responsible for another life. Adults should always supervise children holding rabbits - my brother is 5 years old and I make him sit back on the sofa so that snuffles can jump off him without either of them getting hurt. Children should never be left alone with rabbits for obvious safety reasons.
The recommended way to hold a rabbit is to place one hand under its bottom and then use the other hand to support its upper body. Snuffles is now used to being handled and likes to fidget until he is in a position that is comfortable for him! However, it is important to remember that rabbits have powerful back legs and will kick and scratch if they are scared, unhappy or do not feel safe so obviously handling should always be done with extreme care.
How to make your bunny trust you
Rabbits are naturally timid creatures and at first are likely to be scared of all the people trying to hold it and look at it! The best way to form a bond with your rabbit is to gradually gain his trust. Start by lying on your front on the floor and letting your bunny gradually sneak up to you and then as his confidence grows he will climb on you and sniff you and maybe even give you a lick! Sudden movements will make a rabbit scared and so always move slowly and talk softly. As your rabbit becomes more confident with your presence you can try sitting cross legged on the floor while he is running around and over time he will be more and more happy to come up to you and explore you. It takes time and patients but gradually your bunny will learn that you are not a threat. At first snuffles wouldn't go anywhere near me when I was in a room but now he is always jumping on my lap or nudging at my legs to get some attention! Once they realise that you are not a threat you will be able to form a strong bond with your bunny.
I have been lucky with Snuffles as he has never bitten anyone and does not do anything too naughty. If you have a rabbit, which has got into a habit of biting or any other bad behaviour then you need to discipline it. It used to be recommended to tap their nose when they bit someone but as rabbits have very sensitive skulls this is not said not to be safe. The two best ways to discipline a rabbit are as follows
Stamp or Clap
This is where you firmly shout 'NO' and stamp your foot or clap your hands when your bunny does something he should not. Gradually they will learn that what they have done is naughty. This method never worked with rabbits I had in the past though.
This is the most effective method of discipline I have come across and it is harmless to the rabbit. Every time your bunny shows bad behaviour such as biting, you firmly say 'NO' and spray him with a water spray. Obviously, you do not drench him, but one squirt show him that the action he has just taken results in something not very nice. It is important to use a spray bottle that has never had any chemical in and it is best to buy an empty bottle that has never been used for anything and then fill it with water and have it handy when you are around your bunny. It sounds slightly mean to some people, but when you think about it, they will soon learn the behaviours which are not accepted and it is a painless way of disciplining them. However, if this causes your bunny to become too distressed then it is best to try another method.
I would definitely recommend the lionhead rabbit breed as they have a good temperament and love affection and cuddles once their confidence is increased. They do need lots of care and as with all pets, you should only consider getting one if you are able to really care for it. I love my Snuffles and he has also helped with my anxiety and stress related illness, which is an added bonus. I really enjoy spending lots of time with him daily, playing and giving him attention and training him.
Thanks for reading,
We have recently aquired 3 lion head rabbits who were in such a state, lion head rabbits are quite long haired all over there bodys but have a great big tuft of long hair on the top of there heads inbetween there ears, the hair on there ears is quite short and they have a long main just like a lion which is where i suppose they get there names from.
They have a very nice nature and are very friendly even with the children, they enjoy to run around following the children and when ever the girls stop the rabbits will run around them in circles.
They enjoy being brushed and i use a soft bristled childrens brush on them, they are very easy to look after and are no more trouble than any other rabbit, infact they are a lot less trouble than our rex, they enjoy sitting on your lap having a fuss and although i dont like having any pets out side they seem to get too warm in the house and sweat a lot so i have had to house them in the shed for now untill the summer comes.
They are absolutley georgeous rabbits now i have got all the lugs out of there hair and they do require brushing but enjoy having it done, these 3 are that dopey natured they have sat and let me file there nails with an emery board as they were too long, i wouldnt dare try this with rex although bassil my otter lets me.
I have been told by a vet that mine are adults but they are a lot smaller than my rex or otter so i think these are a slightly smaller breed.