Rabbit breeds come in different shapes, sizes, colors, coat types, and personalities. The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) recognizes 50 rabbit breeds, including American rabbits, Californian rabbits, and Lionhead Rabbits.
In this article, we’ll focus on Lionhead rabbits. They are a small rabbit breed that was recently introduced to the United States.
So stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about them; history, characteristics, care, safety, how big they get, whether they make good pets, and so much more.
What is a lionhead rabbit?
A lionhead rabbit is a small rabbit characterized by a distinctive mane of hair on his head. The name “lion” comes from the long, fluffy fur circling the head and neck, just like a lion’s mane.
Where did the lionhead rabbit come from? This breed originated in Belgium. It’s thought that breeders created it by mixing a Swiss Fox rabbit with a Netherland Dwarf rabbit. This mix resulted in a genetic mutation known as the “mane” gene.
The lionhead rabbit was introduced in the U.S. in the 90s after being popular in Europe. The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognized it as an official breed in 2014.
Characteristics of lionhead rabbits
Lionhead rabbits have unique qualities that make them stand out from other rabbit breeds. They have the following characteristics.
They have a mane circling the head, extending to the back of the neck. The lionhead rabbit’s mane is at least 2-3 inches long. Some lionhead rabbits have fur on their cheeks, chest, and hindquarters.
There are two different mane types: single mane and double mane.
- Single mane: it’s also known as the light mane. When a lionhead has a single mane, it means that only one gene is producing the mane. The mane can be found around the head, ears, and occasionally, chest and chin areas.
- Double mane: When a lionhead has a double mane, it means that two genes are producing the mane. Double mane lionheads have a lot of wool covering the head, ears, chin, chest, and flanks or skirts.
Lionhead rabbits are smart, social, and energetic. They are friendly and love to play, which makes them ideal pets.
However, they can be timid and may take a bit more time to get used to humans. Like most rabbit breeds, lionhead rabbits enjoy being with other rabbits.
They are fragile animals that don’t enjoy being picked up. Additionally, they are easily frightened, so keep them away from young kids.
Most rabbits generally live for 5 to 8 years, depending on their breed. However, lionhead rabbits can live between 7 and 10 years old. With proper care, they can live a long and healthy life.
Lionhead rabbits exist in many colors. The U.S. recognizes the following colors: black, chocolate, lilac, blue, tortoise, white, siamese sable, sable point, smoke pearl, chestnut, Ruby-Eyed White (REW), Blue-Eyed White (BEW), silver marten, agouti, and seal.
They can be a mix of any of the colors listed above.
How big do lionhead rabbits get?
What comes to your mind when you hear the name “lionhead”? Most people assume that they have a large stature that resembles that of a lion. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Of all the rabbits in the world, lionhead rabbits are among the smallest rabbits. They were created from a mix of dwarf breeds and don’t grow big.
An average adult-sized lionhead has a compact body that weighs between 3-3.5 pounds. Typically, they grow only 8-10 inches in length, and their ears are 2-3 inches long. The ears are well balanced with the head and body.
You can easily identify lionhead rabbits with their broad heads and short upright ears.
Do lionheads make good pets?
Lionheads are great pets. Not only are they cute, but lionheads are also friendly, tolerant, well-behaved, and outgoing. They are quite playful and will play with toys, play amongst each other, and chase things.
On top of that, they are intelligent, smart, and will respond positively to training. They can learn a few command words such as “come,” “eat,” and “sit” as a dog would.
Also, they can be litter trained if you’re consistent and patient with them. For effective litter training, neutering is recommended when they are old enough.
Despite being timid, they can form close bonds with their owners. When they trust you and feel safe, they love to cuddle and be petted. They can even connect and play with other well-behaved pets.
Since they are social creatures, keeping at least two of these fluffy friends is recommended. They enjoy playing with each other and look cute while doing it. You can pair two lionheads together or with other breeds as long as they are the same size. If forced to live alone, they can become stressed or anxious.
If they feel threatened, especially if picked up or chased around, they can get territorial and may scratch or bite.
How to care for lionhead rabbits?
The care required for a lionhead rabbit is similar to that for other rabbits. But due to their small size and long, fluffy mane, they have a few additional requirements.
Lionheads should be fed hay, fresh vegetables, rabbit pellets, and fruit. They should eat unlimited amounts of hay each day. Hay should make up about 80% of their diet.
In general, fresh, leafy vegetables should be about one cup and ⅛ cup of pellets per pound of body weight. Fruits and veggies should be provided in small quantities. In addition, they need a constant supply of fresh water in a bowl.
Lionhead rabbits are best kept indoors, in a cage or rabbit-proof room. However, if you don’t have enough space indoors, you can raise your lionheads in a rabbit hutch outdoors.
Rabbits might be small, but they are very active. Therefore, they need a lot of space to jump around, dig, hop, and store food and water.
As a general rule of thumb, a rabbit’s enclosure should be at least three times larger than the rabbit’s size. On average, you can get a cage or hutch that measures 24” x 36” for smaller rabbits and 30” x 36” for bigger rabbits, but the bigger, the better.
Indoor lionheads are protected from bad weather and rabbit predators. So, if you choose to keep your rabbits outdoors, ensure the hutch is weatherproof to protect them from wind, rain, snow, and direct sun rays.
Lionhead rabbits are covered with thick wool. Their manes, therefore, need constant grooming. While they can groom themselves, human intervention is required to loosen up and release fur that needs to go.
Lionhead rabbits are susceptible to tangles and furballs if they’re not groomed. Tangles can be uncomfortable and painful. On the other hand, furballs, or hairballs, occur when they swallow too much fur. They’re potentially fatal, and prevention is definitely better and easier than treatment.
The mane needs brushing at least once every two days with a suitable brush (soft brush). For double-maned rabbits, daily brushing is recommended. Brush gently and avoid sensitive areas, the eyes, nose, and face when brushing.
If he/she has long hair around the rear end, you may need to trim it. You know it’s long if it’s getting pooped or peed on.
Like all breeds, lionhead rabbits are prone to certain health conditions.
- Respiratory infections include sinuses, snuffles (runny nose and eyes), and coughing.
- Overgrown teeth, which may cause loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Malocclusion, which is the misalignment of teeth. Lionhead rabbits have smaller heads and longer jaws that can cause misaligned teeth.
- Parasites that can cause skin issues such as mites, flystrike, and E-cuniculi.
- When they are frightened, they may suddenly kick out their hind legs, causing spinal injury.
- Digestive issues such as diarrhea and blockages.
When keeping lionhead rabbits, you should make regular vet visits to ensure that any health issues are detected before they become fatal.
Also, ensure that you feed them a healthy, balanced diet that mainly includes hay to help digestion and wear their teeth down.
Where can you get lionhead rabbits?
Are you looking for lionhead rabbits for sale or adoption? You can visit the American Rabbit Breeders Association website for a list of breeders in your area. The purchase price of a lionhead rabbit is between $10 and $100.
Also, if you want to adopt one, check with your local animal shelter.
We hope that this article has given you useful insights into the lionhead rabbit breed. Their name evokes King of the Jungle traits, but that’s far from what they’re like.
Lionheads are small, with a cute and fluffy mane that distinguishes them from other rabbit breeds.
While they’re a relatively new breed, they can make great pets. They are cute and friendly, have a longer lifespan than other breeds, don’t grow big, and can easily be trained.
However, they need regular grooming, need at least two to meet their social needs, can cause allergies, and have some health problems.