Lionhead rabbits are popular pets.
They are irresistibly cute. They have a distinctive mane like a lion, but they are small enough to fit in a child’s lap.
Lionhead rabbits are intelligent. They are playful. They are easy to care for.
But these adorable little rabbits have some very specific needs for staying happy and healthy.
In this article. We will tell you everything you need to know about the history, appearance, and care of Lionhead rabbits.
We will answer some frequently asked questions about this popular breed. But first, let’s review some essential facts about Lionhead rabbits.
Essential Facts About Lionhead Rabbits
Size: 8 to 10 inches (21 to 26 cm) long, just 3.5 pounds (1800 grams) when fully grown.
Colors: White with blue eyes, white with red eyes, chocolate, chestnut agouti, pointed white, silver marten, seal, Siamese sable, and tortoise-shell pattern with black, blue, lilac, or chocolate.
Mane: Lionheads can have a single mane, double mane, or no mane at all. A Lionhead kit destined to grow a double mane will have a noticeable V around its skirt when it is born. Otherwise, you have to wait and see what kind of mane develops.
Special care needs, compared to other rabbits: Will need more grooming if it has a mane (not all Lionhead rabbits do).
Good Choice for: Children, single people, seniors, anyone who loves rabbits.
Compatible breeds: Any of the smaller rabbits, such as Jersey Wooly, American Fuzzy Lop, and English Angora. If you want to keep a Lionhead rabbit with a rabbit of a large breed, make sure any small females are spayed and any large males are neutered. Lionhead females may not be able to carry their babies to term if they are impregnated by males of a larger breed.
Also read: How Big Do Lionhead Rabbits Get?
The History and the Unique Genetics of the Lionhead Breed
Lionhead rabbits are the newest breed recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
Sometime in the 1990s. breeders in France or Belgium, or perhaps in both countries, tried to create a dwarf rabbit with long hair.
Probably one of these breeders attempted to cross a Swiss Fox rabbit with a Swiss Dwarf.
The offspring resulting from crossing these two breeds experienced a mutation, or, more likely, the combination of genes from these two breeds expressed itself as a lionhead gene.
Lionheads can get two copies of the gene, one from both parents, just one copy of the gene from one parent, or no copies of the gene at all.
Lionheads that have two copies of the gene are fluffy all over and stay that way throughout their lives.
Lionheads that have one copy of the gene develop a mane of thick wool around their neck and ears, but it can fall out as they get older.
Lionheads that don’t inherit the gene never develop any unusual thickening of their coats.
Lionheads became popular in Europe in the late 1990s, and they arrived in the United States in 1999.
Lionheads began appearing at the Bradford Premier Small Animal Show in the UK in 2000, and became an exotic breed recognized by the British Rabbit Council in 2002. Lionhead rabbits weren’t recognized in the US until 2014.
Even today, if you want to enter a Lionhead rabbit in a show, it must have a white coat (with red eyes) or a tortoise-shell coat of black, blue, lilac, or chocolate.
If you have a beautiful Lionhead rabbit with different coat colors, you can still enter it to be recognized as a breed in development.
Appearance of the Lionhead Rabbit
At first glance, Lionheads don’t look all that different from other dwarf rabbits. It’s only when you look into their faces that you notice their unique mane.
There are actually many colors of Lionhead rabbits that aren’t recognized by the clubs and councils that run rabbit shows. Here are just a few of them:
Agouti fur has dark and light, speckled patterning. Each hair has bands of dark color alternating with light color.
The belly may be lighter, usually a cream color.
Agouti color patterns in Lionheads include chestnut, chinchilla, chocolate, lynx, opal, sable, and chocolate-blue (squirrel).
Self rabbits have fur with no white markings or rings of color.
Lionheads with self coloration include white with blue eyes (a solid white coat can be “self”), white with red eyes, blue, black, lilac, or chocolate, or the tortoiseshell pattern with blue, black, lilac, or chocolate.
Shaded rabbits have darker markings on their ears, feet, tail, and head.
Shaded Lionhead rabbits may have fur that is primarily white, chocolate, sable, seal, smokey pearl, smokey pearl with blue points, or pointed white. Pointed white is coloration in the same pattern as a Himalayan cat, white with a chocolate, lilac, blue, or black ears, nose, tail, and feet.
Lionheads can come in eight shades of tan. They can have broken, butterfly, or Vienna markings. They can carry the wideband gene, which intensifies red colors in their coats,
Temperament and Personality of Your Lionhead Rabbit
Lionhead rabbits are known for their friendly and social nature. They make great companions for both adults and children, thanks to their good-natured and well-mannered behavior.
These fluffy little bunnies have an energetic and playful side to them, often enjoying various games and interactive activities.
Their intelligence makes them quick learners, so teaching them new tricks or even litter training is relatively simple.
It’s important to note that while most Lionhead rabbits are outgoing and social, some can be a bit timid.
Keep this in mind when introducing your rabbit to new situations or people, as they might need some extra time and care to feel comfortable.
Unlike some other breeds, Lionheads enjoy being petted and held. Just remember that they will always be more comfortable on the floor than in your lap.
In general, Lionhead rabbits are:
- Sometimes timid
Taking Care of Your Lionhead Rabbit
The most important thing to remember about Lionhead rabbits is to handle them gently!
You can prevent disabling injury simply by approaching your rabbit slowly, facing it, speaking to it as you approach.
Rabbits twisting and squirming to get away from their owners can dislocate joints and fracture their spines.
Lionhead rabbits make great pets for children, but your children must take care not to squeeze their bunnies too hard and never, ever to drop them.
You also need to protect your Lionheads from all encounters with larger, predatory animals, including dogs, cats, snakes, foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, hawks, and owls.
Food and Water
Fiber-rich food is essential for your rabbit’s health.
Fiber is a source of nutrients for rabbits. Probiotic bacteria in your rabbit’s cecum begin the process of converting cellulose into sugars and fatty acids.
Your rabbit poops out soft pellets, and oxygen in the air accelerates this process. Later, your rabbit eats its soft poops and extracts the nutrients in their high-fiber foods.
Rabbits need a constant supply of fiber to prevent a potentially fatal form of constipation known as gastrointestinal stasis. (Surprisingly, one of the symptoms of this kind of constipation is runny poop caused by fluid flowing around the blockage.)
Rabbits need a constant supply of clean, dry hay or high-fiber rabbit food pellets that contain about 20% fiber from timothy (not alfalfa) hay.
Sweet Meadow, Mazur Timothy-Based Rabbit Pellets, and Zupreem Timothy pellets are good choices.
You should also give your Lionhead about half a cup (40 grams) of raw, dark-green leafy vegetables, and up to two tablespoons (30 grams) of carrots and fruit every day, along with all the water it wants to drink.
Cages and Playspace
Lionhead rabbits thrive in indoor hutches. Each rabbit needs about 18 inches by 30 inches (45 cm by 75 cm) of floor space, with about 15 inches (38 cm) of clearance so it can hop in and out without hitting its ears.
It’s OK to place the litter box underneath the hutch and let poop fall through a metal grate, but make sure the wire making the grate is coated with rubber so your rabbits will not injure their toes.
Lionheads should not be kept outside, in your backyard.
Lionheads are easy to housetrain. Just gather up their poop and place it in their litter box (which you clean and sanitize twice a week), and they will get the idea.
Your Lionhead rabbit has a soft, wooly coat that needs combing (outdoors!) about twice a week.
During the shedding season, which occurs for about a week in the spring and a week in the fall, combing your rabbit every day will greatly reduce shedding around the house.
Molting and Crimping
Lionhead rabbits go through a process called molting where they shed their old fur to make room for new growth.
During this time, it is essential to groom your rabbit:
- Gently brush your rabbit with a suitable brush every few days to remove loose hair. This will prevent hair from accumulating in your living space.
- Like all rabbits, Lionheads will “crimp” or roll their fur as they groom themselves. This is normal and not a cause for concern, but monitor your rabbit for signs of distress.
Tangles and mats can develop in your Lionhead rabbit’s fur if it isn’t groomed regularly.
To prevent mats from forming, follow these tips:
- Groom your rabbit gently and regularly with a brush designed for rabbits.
- Take extra caution around the rabbit’s delicate neck, face, and ears when grooming. Avoid pulling on the fur.
- If mats do occur, carefully clip them out with a pair of blunt-tip scissors. Don’t pull or tug on the mat, as this can cause pain to your rabbit.
Also read: Can I Shave My Lionhead Rabbit?
Health Concerns for Lionhead Rabbits
Lionhead rabbits kept as pets usually live to be 8 to 10 years old, considerably longer than many breeds of larger rabbits, if you follow these rules:
- Quarantine any new pet rabbits for a month in their own hutch before introducing them as playmates for the Lionhead rabbits they already have. This way they will not transmit bacterial infections or parasites you may not have known about when you got them. Rabbits from breeders, however, are usually safe.
- Make sure your rabbit always has high-fiber food. This is especially important for pregnant does and females that have just given birth. They can develop a condition called toxemia if they do not get enough food,
- Protect your rabbits from predators and boisterous children. They are fragile, easily frightened creatures.
Also read: Can You Eat Lionhead Rabbit’s Meat?
Popular Bunny Names for Lionhead Rabbit
Here’s a table with popular Lionhead Rabbit names reflecting their breed characteristics.
The Lionhead Rabbit is known for its small size, distinctive mane of hair, and lively personality.
Many of these names are inspired by their unique appearance and playful nature.
|Boy Bunny Names for Lionhead Rabbit
|Girl Bunny Names for Lionhead Rabbit
These names emphasize the distinctive mane, small size, and lively temperament of the Lionhead Rabbit breed, making them fitting choices for your rabbit.
Also read: Popular Pet Bunny Names
Frequently Asked Questions About Lionhead Rabbits
How much will a Lionhead rabbit cost?
You can expect to pay around $50, up to $100 in the US, with comparable prices in Canada, but up to about £125 in the UK.
A hutch for a single rabbit will cost around $100 in the US, and food may cost as much as $40 a month
Where can I find a Lionhead rabbit?
Lionhead rabbits are often available in pet shops, but professional breeders raise the healthiest, happiest rabbits.
Visit the Find a Lionhead Rabbit Near Me page on the North American Lionhead Rabbit Club site.
Are Lionhead rabbits OK to keep outside?
Why does my Lionhead rabbit shake?
If your Lionhead rabbit shakes or trembles but otherwise seems active and alert, it is probably frightened by something.
If your Lionhead shakes or trembles and is lying down, it is probably seriously ill.
Make sure it is in a space with good ventilation and a comfortable temperature (around 68° F/20° C is ideal).
If the problem is not excessive heat or cold, then it may be food poisoning, parasites, or infection. Isolate the rabbit so it does spread any infections, and take it to the vet for treatment.
Are Lionheads good with kids?
Lionhead rabbits can be good with kids as long as the children are gentle and respectful. It is essential to teach kids how to handle the rabbit properly and to supervise interactions.
Overall, Lionhead rabbits are friendly animals, making them a suitable choice for families.
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