Lionhead Rabbits build famous little pets with their distinctive woolly mane, adorable appearance and compact size.
While they can be friendly and playful with the proper handling, owning a Lionhead is not a decision that should be taken in haste. They can be shy, need a well-balanced diet, and have plenty of sufficient room and enrichment.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: cuniculus Oryctolagus (Domestic European Rabbit)
ADULT SIZE: Length from 8 to 10 inches; 2.5 to 3.75 lbs
EXPECTANCY OF LIFE: 7 to 9 years
Temperament and Lionhead Rabbit Conduct
Lionhead Rabbits are common pets, but for first-time owners with children, they may not be the best option.
They’re smart, good-natured and playful in general, but they’re one of the more shy domestic rabbit breeds as well. They can quickly become scared, and violent behaviour can result in this.
They need a comfortable space free of tension and should be treated with care. Build up the interaction you have with your Lionhead gradually. Be patient and let them approach you on their terms and make sure that you have a delicious reward at your side, so that they begin to associate positive things with you. Don’t hurry to pick them up, and don’t firmly restrain them when you do, with no way to escape.
The Lionhead Rabbits are smart little beasts. To prevent boredom from settling in, they need plenty of enrichment and adequate stimulation. For their normal digging and chewing habits, they need outlets. This is not only much healthier for the overall well-being of your rabbit, but it will stop them from picking other, less suitable things around your house or garden.
Make sure they have a large range of rabbit-safe toys around their hutch and run and chew products. If they’re a house rabbit, you’ll need to focus on redirecting them to suitable things and making sure the places they have access to are rabbit-proof.
The Lionhead Rabbit Housing
While a small rabbit is the Lionhead, they are an active breed and need plenty of room to burn off energy.
Rabbits are sociable creatures, and when they have another bunny housemate they do best. To hold at least two rabbits of a similar size, your hutch should be large enough. Not enough space would be given by a hutch smaller than 6ft x 2ft.
Unfortunately, many rabbits are kept in hutches that are much too small for them, not sufficiently insulated from extreme weather, and that do not allow them the space to engage in their natural behaviours.
It is also recommended to have a run and, preferably, this should be about 8ft. This is going to be a perfect set up if the hutch can be linked to the race.
You should make sure that somewhere outside of high temperatures, your Lionhead is housed. They are particularly vulnerable to overheating and are normally advised to be kept in an environment where temperatures do not exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
Extra hay should be provided for warmth in colder months if your rabbit is housed outside, and they should be well sheltered from rain, snow and wind.
The hutch and run area of your Lionhead Rabbits should be cleaned out at least once a week, and you should also do daily deep cleansing on bowls, toys and other accessories. A dirty hutch can easily become smelly, and urine and faeces build-up can lead to health issues and the growth of bacteria.
Water and Food
Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand a rabbit’s nutritional requirements, and this may contribute to digestive issues and problems with their teeth, in particular.
They need a diet that will naturally allow their teeth to file down to prevent them from being overgrown, since rabbit teeth are constantly rising. All rabbits should be given unrestricted access, along with water, to high-quality and high-fiber fresh grass hay. Also beneficial are young, leafy greens, like Kale.
Unless it’s an occasional treat, steer clear of sugary fruits, and do not fall into the pit of letting your Lionhead eat too many commercially prepared pellets. In moderation, these can be okay, but they are not especially fibrous and it is much more important to find high-quality hay mixtures that they like.
Popular Issues with Health
Lionhead Rabbits may be vulnerable to a few other health issues, along with dental problems caused by overgrown teeth. Below, some of the most famous are outlined:
Respiratory Issues: In Lionheads with flat faces, these are especially common. As some individuals think it adds to their cute factor, Brachycephalic characteristics in Lionheads are becoming more common. Not all Lionheads have flat faces, but this will raise your rabbit’s risk of getting respiratory issues, dental problems, and digestive problems if they do this. It’s therefore more likely that they overheat more quickly.
Eye issues: Since a Lionhead may have a flatter face than the typical rabbit breed, their tear ducts could be more susceptible to problems. This can lead to eye infections and trouble with vision. To keep them clean, you can periodically bathe their eyes with warm water. You can seek veterinary help if you see a recurring problem with eye boogers, tearing or inflammation.
Your Lionhead Rabbit Buying
To find your Lionhead Rabbit, ensure that you go to a trustworthy breeder or rescue organisation. In terms of handling and socialisation, a bad breeder may mean your rabbit won’t have the best start, and they will have an increased risk of continuing genetic health issues.
Going to a Pet Store means that you won’t be able to find out as much details about your Lionhead’s history and how and where it was raised.
Lionheads come in a wide variety of colour combinations, and more grooming than the less profuse single-mane variety will be expected for the double-maned coats. A good breeder would be able to tell you from birth which form of coat a Lionhead would have.
Through the American Rabbit Breeders Association, a good place to start your research will be
Unfortunately, the needs of rabbits are overlooked by a number of people, and many end up saving them. To find out whether you can give an adoptive home to a Lionhead rabbit, or another similar breed, reach out to your local rescue group.
A extensive list of rabbit rescues around the country is available from the House Rabbit Society.
Training for Litter
Since Lionhead Rabbits are very clever, they usually respond faster than your average bunny to litter training. Providing a dedicated toilet spot for your rabbit makes it easier to clean your hutch and can be helpful if house rabbits still have free access to areas in the home.
Using a simple marker like a Clicker, followed by a tasty reward, may be an efficient way to let your Lionhead know that when they go potty in the litter tray, they have done the right thing. The principles of training are precisely the same as they would be for a cat or dog.
When the rabbit is sufficiently mature, spaying or neutering the rabbit will also help mitigate any spraying in less suitable areas. If you have two rabbits of different sexes being housed together, it’s also necessary.
Good Practices for Grooming
Lionheads have a higher amount of fur than your average rabbit, which means you need to be prepared for their grooming regime to pay extra attention.
To avoid awkward knots or matting from forming, their coat would need to be brushed out at least a couple of times a week.
Double-mane Lionhead Rabbits have a thicker mane around their skirt and often thicker fur (the hindquarters, hips, and tail). You should really brush them every day, particularly during their annual moult, if their mane is a heavy double mane.
A single-mane means that the rabbit has thicker fur around its head, its ears, and its chest.
If you do not lift the dead hair by brushing, while they are grooming themselves, this can lead to your bunny ingesting a lot of their fur, and it can cause what is known as ‘wool-block’ that can make them seriously ill.
Because of their timid nature, to reduce stress and encourage them to develop positive associations with the process, you should gradually build up the grooming experience. Keep the sessions short, cosy and paired with tasty treats.
The Lionhead Rabbit’s Similar Pets
If you’re not sure if you’re right with a Lionhead, why not try these other rabbit breeds as well:
It is important to take the time to do your research, to know if a Lionhead rabbit is right for your family, and how much space and time they need to help you make the right decision.