There’s a lot to love about Belgian Hare rabbits.
Belgian Hares are widely regarded as the most elegant of all breeds of rabbits.
Their long ears stand erect. They have large, expressive eyes. Their faces are commonly described as deer-like.
Their bodies display a long, appealing curve, and their long toes look a lot like fingers.
Belgian Hare rabbits aren’t just beautiful. They are highly intelligent, possibly the most intelligent of all breeds. Except for his coat color, Bugs Bunny could have been a Belgian Hare.
As one of the oldest breeds in America, dating back to the 1880s, these rabbits are also considered rare and threatened, according to the American Belgian Hare Club.
If you’re considering a Belgian Hare as a pet, keep in mind that they can be both cunning and occasionally timid.
Their energetic disposition, combined with their unique looks, may make them a popular choice, but understanding their specific needs and personality traits is key to providing them with the right environment for a happy and healthy life.
Adding to their charm, Belgian Hare rabbits have an interesting and rich backstory. We’ll get to that a little later. First, here is the answer to a very basic question.
Difference Between a Hare and a Rabbit
- Belgian Hares are really rabbits, not hares. That’s despite the fact that they look like hares.
- Hares are solitary except when they are breeding. Rabbits live in groups.
- Rabbit coats stay the same color all year-round. Hare coat color changes with the seasons, dark in the summer, light in the winter.
- Rabbits lift their tails when they are running. Hares do not.
- Hares have longer ears, with distinct black tips. Rabbit ears don’t have the distinct black tips,
- Rabbits are born naked and blind. Hares are born with fur, their eyes open.
- Rabbits tend to hide from their predators. Hares usually sprint away from their predators.
- Both rabbits and hares are herbivores, but rabbits like grasses, while hares eat woody plants.
Also read: Rabbit vs Hare – Differences and Similarities?
Essential Facts About Belgian Hare Rabbits
- Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus
- Care level, compared to other rabbits: You will need to give this breed plenty of space, and the right conditions for foot health (see below).
- Temperament: Friendly, active, but skittish around people and animals it does not know.
- Color: Black, black and tan, chestnut red, red, or tan. All Belgian Hare rabbits have black ticking on their ears. In the United States, you will only find Belgian Hares in chestnut red.
- Lifespan: 7 to 11 years are possible, but extensively inbred rabbits (which usually have chestnut red coats) will only live 3 or 4 years.
- Maximum size: 9 pounds (about 4 kg)
- Dietary requirements: Mostly timothy hay. Limit pellets to 10% of the diet.
- Compatible breeds: Perfectly fine with all other breeds.
- Cage size: Get your Belgian Hare a large cage, at least six feet (2 meters) long, two feet (70 cm) wide, and two feet (70 cm) tall. A bigger cage or an outdoor hutch is better. Belgian Hares are not a good choice for apartment living. They do best in homes with enclosed backyards.
- Thrives indoors, or outdoors in temperate climates
While you might find their smart and lively nature appealing, it’s important to remember that Belgian Hares can be nervous and easily startled by sudden noises or movements.
Due to their size and temperament, they require more care and maintenance compared to other rabbit breeds
History of the Belgian Hare Rabbit
One of the odd events in the history of the Belgian Hare rabbit was the Great Belgian Hare Boom of 1900 (been selectively bred to resemble wild European hares).
A breed of rabbit called the Flemish giant was cross-bred with hares from the wild until the result was a rabbit that looked like a wild hare.
At first, not enough people were interested in the breed even to have a club for Belgian Hare fans.
About 1899, a promoter in the US played up the value of this breed for meat production, and suddenly 600 to 700 rabbit farmers were paying up to US $1000 each (equivalent to about US $36,000 today) for a single rabbit.
By 1917, interest in Belgian Hares as a way to get rich quick waned.
Because they are very large, farms started focusing on smaller breeds that do not require as much outdoor space.
Farmers started raising rabbits in wire cages.
Belgian Hares suffer foot and toe injuries, sometimes leading to fatal infections, when they are kept in wire cages all the time. By the 1940s, Belgian Hare rabbits became rare.
These rabbits are currently more popular in Europe than in the US and Canada. They can be hard to find in North America.
As you learn more about your Belgian Hare, you’ll find that the breed was named to honor its origins (“Belgian”) and its resemblance to wild hares (“Hare”). Today, this fancy breed is still admired for its slender, wiry frame and long, powerful legs.
Appearance of the Belgian Hare Rabbit
Bugs Bunny was inspired by a gray, European Belgian Hare rabbit. You will not find many Belgian Hare rabbits in the United States now.
But all Belgian Hare rabbits have a sleek, lithe, elegant appearance.
Belgian Hare rabbits are the only domesticated rabbit that has the same length of hair as wild rabbits.
Their hair bristly, not soft and silky like Angora rabbits.
Size and Weight
Your Belgian Hare will typically weigh between 6 to 9 pounds.
Remember, this breed is often referred to as the “racehorse of rabbits” due to its lean, muscular body and agile legs.
Their distinctly arched backs and well-rounded hindquarters resemble those of a wild hare.
Color and Fur
Belgian Hares have short, glossy fur that’s quite low maintenance.
Their sizeable upright ears and a straight tail that aligns with their backbone are defining features for this breed.
You can expect varying shades of reddish-brown coat colors for your Belgian Hare, making them look even more like their wild counterparts.
The American Rabbit Breeders Association only recognizes the chestnut color as an example of this breed.
Temperament of the Belgian Hare Rabbit
Belgian Hare rabbits tend to be friendly but nervous.
They need to get to know you before they let you pick them up. Start petting your rabbit on its back, then between the ears.
These rabbits can be friendly, but they need to be handled with care to avoid triggering their instincts to kick or become agitated
Suppose you need to pick up a rabbit that does not know you well, make a “bunny burrito” by wrapping its hind end in a towel first. This keeps it from kicking you.
As a pet owner, you should always approach your Belgian Hare with patience and gentleness. This will help them feel more comfortable and secure around you.
Although they might be a bit more active than other breeds, Belgian Hares can still make great companions. To make your pet feel at ease, follow these simple tips:
- Interact with your rabbit daily to help them get used to your presence.
- Provide a safe and comfortable environment for them to live and play in.
- Allow them to explore their surroundings at their own pace.
Remember, Belgian Hares are unique and intelligent animals with intriguing personalities.
By understanding and catering to their needs, you’ll be able to build a strong bond and enjoy your time together.
Requirements for Care of Belgian Hare Rabbits
Belgian Hare rabbits like to bounce around. They need plenty of room for exercise.,
These rabbits also need to spend most of their time resting on a hard surface.
If they don’t rest their long, finger-like toes on a hard surface, they are prone to breaking them.
They risk cuts and scrapes on their feet if they have to do a lot of walking on wire.
And, because of their size, Belgian hare rabbits are subject to degenerative diseases of the spine as they get older.
One way to minimize the risk of disc disease is to make sure your rabbits use ramps, not steps, when they move from one elevation to another.
It is always a good idea to get your pet Belgian Hare rabbit used to staying in a crate when it is still a bunny.
A crate becomes its place to hang out. It also becomes a carrier when you need to take your rabbit to the vet or to a new home.
Belgian Hare rabbits are well-suited to living outdoors in a hutch, but they need a plywood plank covered with hay for their floor.
It is important for their hutch to be raised off the ground, preferably about 3 feet (a meter). Raising the floor of the hutch protects your rabbits from predators.
Diet and Nutrition
A well-balanced diet is essential for your Belgian Hare’s health.
The main component of their diet should be high-quality hay or grass, which aids in digestion and ensures proper wear of their teeth.
- Fresh pellets specifically designed for rabbits
- Fresh leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and parsley
- Small portions of fruit, like apple or carrot, as occasional treats
Always provide clean, fresh water for your rabbit, ideally in a bottle, to prevent contamination.
Monitor your Belgian Hare’s weight and adjust their diet accordingly to maintain a healthy weight.
You can keep your rabbit safer outdoors if you keep it on a leash. Rabbit leashes are available online and in pet stores.
With a leash, you can make sure a skittish rabbit does not run away when you encounter a larger, scarier animal on your outdoor walk.
Just be sure you are walking your Belgian Hare rabbit on grass or Astroturf, not a sidewalk or pavement.
Take particular care not to walk your rabbit on sun-heated sidewalks or pavement.
Most rabbits are happy and active at temperatures of 58° to 72° F (18° to 21° C).
Belgian Hares are prone to heatstroke at temperatures above 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) if they do not have adequate ventilation.
All rabbits need about half an hour a day in sunlight. This helps their bodies make vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth.
If you keep your rabbit indoors all the time, give it a sunlamp. Hang the lamp where your rabbit will not get burned.
Health Issues and Lifespan
Belgian Hare Rabbits, like any pet, can experience some health issues.
The most common concerns are dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory infections.
Regular checkups with a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care can help you monitor and maintain your pet’s health.
To keep your Belgian Hare happy and healthy, make sure to provide a balanced diet. Approximately 70% of their diet should come from hay, such as Timothy hay. Don’t forget to offer fresh vegetables and a small portion of rabbit pellets daily.
While you’re giving your rabbit its meals, it’s essential to provide unlimited access to fresh water.
Adequate hydration is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system and reducing the risk of urinary tract issues.
As for their lifespan, Belgian Hares typically live between 5-9 years.
To help your rabbit achieve a long and happy life, keep their living environment clean and well-maintained. Don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian if your pet displays any signs of illness or discomfort.
Exercise is vital for the Belgian Hare, as they are energetic and active creatures.
Providing them with ample space to hop and explore will ensure they remain in good physical condition. Remember, a healthy lifestyle is the key to preventing various health issues for your furry friend.
Popular Bunny Names for Belgian Hare Rabbit
Here’s a table with popular Belgian Hare Rabbit names, reflecting their breed characteristics.
The Belgian Hare Rabbit is known for its slender, athletic build, and rich, rufous coloration with a black ticking pattern.
Many of these names are inspired by their graceful appearance and hare-like qualities.
|Boy Bunny Names for Belgian Hare Rabbit||Girl Bunny Names for Belgian Hare Rabbit|
These names highlight the distinct coloration, agility, and elegance of the Belgian Hare Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.
Showing Belgian Hares
When you’re preparing your Belgian Hare for a show, it’s essential to focus on their unique characteristics.
The American Belgian Hare Club provides guidelines to help you showcase your rabbit at its best.
Start by making sure your Belgian Hare is clean and well-groomed. Pay attention to their fur, nails, and teeth.
You should also regularly practice posing your rabbit to highlight its slender body and long legs.
To better understand the judging criteria, study categories like:
- Body Type: Emphasize the sleek and muscular build of your Belgian Hare, ensuring they don’t appear bulky.
- Lively Appearance: Showcase your rabbit’s alertness and energy, as this is an essential feature of the breed.
Aerial view can help you evaluate your rabbit’s sidelines. By doing this, you can determine if they maintain their narrow physique from every angle.
Remember, practice makes perfect! The more time you spend working with your Belgian Hare, the better they’ll perform at a show.
So, be patient and enjoy the rewarding experience of showing your exceptional rabbit.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Rabbit
Q, Are Belgian Hare rabbits rare?
A. It is almost impossible to find black, gray, or tan Belgian Hare rabbits in the United States.
Q. How much does a Belgian Hare rabbit cost?
A. A Belgian Hare bunny will cost between $150 and $500 in the US.
Q. Where can I buy a Belgian Hare rabbit?
A. A good place to start looking for a Belgian Hare rabbit in North America is with the American Belgian Hare Rabbit Club.
In the UK, start with the British Rabbit Council.
Q. Do Belgian Hare rabbits get along with other pets?
A. Belgian Hare rabbits get along with cats. They are generally afraid of all but the smallest dogs.
Q. How often do I need to groom my Belgian Hare rabbit?
A. Once a week is enough, except when they are shedding then again in the fall.
Q. Do Belgian Hare rabbits get sick very often?
A. Belgian Hares are unusually sensitive to anesthesia, so don’t get them neutered or spayed if you are keeping a solitary rabbit or two rabbits of the same gender.
They are also difficult to breed, especially if your home is noisy or you have another pet that frightens them.
Q. Are there any downsides to owning a Belgian Hare rabbit?
A. Belgian Hare rabbits startle easily. If you let your Belgian Hare outdoors without putting on a leash, an encounter with a strange dog or a hawk could result in your rabbit running away.
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