These are the smallest species of the domesticated rabbit. The rabbit dwarfs are small with a big head and big eyes when compared to other body parts. Their size ranges from one and a half to three and a half pounds.
Why have dwarf rabbits as pets
Do they make good pets? Yes, they do.
- They are small, low maintenance and loyal.
- Rabbits are intelligent and can be litter box trained easily.
- They can also be taught simple commands and understand their name.
- They eat very little, are small and easy to care of.
- They also come in various colors and you can choose your favorite. These include tan, chocolate, teal, chestnut, and white.
Dwarf rabbit breeds
There are several breeds available in the world today. Their characteristics are the same as those of the larger domestic rabbits, the only difference is size. They are thought to have originated from Europe.
1. The polish rabbit
The polish shiny coat gives them their name. The polish dwarf rabbits have shortly rounded heads, bold eyes, and full cheeks. They have very short ears that can touch all the way to the top. They have fine, short fur that does not need everyday grooming. They are available in different colors including blue, chocolate, black, white with blue or ruby eyes and a broken coat color.
2. The dwarf hotot
The dwarf hotot are very docile, compact and small. Their fur is dense, soft and of a uniform white color all through their body. They have a round head with short uppity ears. They have a black furring around their eyes, a feature that sets them apart from the rest.
3. The Holland lop
The Holland lop is playful, active and skittish. Its features are medium-sized fur, floppy ears, and around head. It does not require a lot of grooming and brushing can be done weekly. They are classified into two: the broken colored which contains patches of one or two colors and the one colored one.
4. The Netherlands dwarf
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit is the most popular one. It has a rounded full head and is very small. It has short ears that are situated close together and a short round face. Their fur ranges from short to medium length hence does not require much grooming. They have several colors including the Chinchilla, Black Silver Marten, Tortoise Shell, Orange, Chocolate Himalayan, Sable point and many more.
5. The jersey wooly
The jersey wooly dwarf has soft, long fur. It has small erect ears and a head that is square and bold. Therefore, its commonly referred to as “mug head”. It’s affectionate, playful and loyal if given good care. It’s also among the most intelligent rabbit breeds. It needs to be brushed at least once a week to detangle the fur.
6. The lionhead bunny
A signature mane that resembles a male lion’s, gives the Lionhead bunny its name. Some do not have the double mane gene which gives them extra fur, but they make good pets if adopted from a small age. They are easy to handle and friendly.
Dwarf rabbit food
Dwarf bunnies eat light, about one half a cup in a day. They are therefore not expensive in terms of feeding. Most of their food is sold in pet stores and this is enough for them to remain healthy. You can, however, feed them fresh fruits like apples and bananas. They love to snack on this.
The most important part of a dwarf rabbits diet is grass hay. Provide it as a free choice on daily basis. Pellets or rabbit food should be given in limited quantities.
Make sure that it has a fresh water supply always so that they remain hydrated and healthy. Keep a water bowl in their cage or where they can easily access the water.
Dwarf bunnies are small hence they have small stomachs. This makes them sensitive to some foods and you need to be careful what you feed them. Do not overfeed them as it could kill them or cause severe diarrhea. Do not feed them nuts, cabbage or lettuce as this can damage their tiny sensitive stomachs.
Cage for dwarf bunnies
You can choose to raise your dwarf rabbit inside a cage or leave it to run loose. The cage should provide plenty of room to run around. When building the cage, fill the bottom of the cage with wood chips. These protect their tiny feet from the cage wires and allows their litter to go in. Clean out the cage frequently.
Bunnies need their exercises so purchase some toys or make them. Provide ramps or other things they can climb on. Even though your rabbit is free to roam the house, provide toys. Also, make sure there are plenty of things to chew on since rabbits are chewers. It helps to keep their teeth healthy.
Dwarf rabbit care
Before you purchase either one of the above-mentioned breeds, you should know how to take care of them. There are several things you need to do first:
- Find a reputable breeder. Make sure they don’t do inbreeding and that their dwarfs are well bred and healthy.
- Educate yourself fully on what to expect from the bunnies and how to take care of them.
- Have the cage ready before you bring home the dwarf rabbit.
- Have extra food and wood chirpings ready too.
- Purchase some toys from the large retail stores and some pet stores.
Now that you have your rabbit, how do you take care of your dwarf bunny?
Note that dwarf bunnies are playful and very active. The slightest movement makes them jump. They also do not cuddle naturally but if you gain their trust, they become cuddly and loyal. When they fully gain your trust, they will allow you to pet them and if they accept you into their pack (they are pack animals), they will groom your hands.
Here are a few things to note:
- Dwarf bunnies do not like being lifted or carried.
- If you must pick them up, do not pick them by their ears. To carry them, support their hind legs with one hand and have the bunny rest on your chest.
- In case you won’t be around to provide companionship for your rabbit, buy two. They are pack animals meaning social animals.
- Offer them fresh food and water every day. If you have to offer a vegetable salad, make sure they are clean.
- Take your rabbit for veterinary checkups regularly. This can help in the detection of small problems before they escalate.
- If you buy companion rabbits, have them neutered by a vet who is experienced in surgery. This reduces some of their hormone-driven behaviors like mounting, spaying, lunging, and boxing. It will also protect the female bunny from risks like uterine cancer.
- Keep their cages and environment clean to protect them from diseases caused by dirt and those spread by fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. If they get infected, look for over-the-counter flea medication. If the bunny is frequently rubbing its ears or the skin around the shoulder is dry, then it may have mites. Seek a vet for treatment.
- Groom it using a soft bristled brush depending on the type of fur your rabbit has. If it’s long-haired, brushing the fur helps it remain clean and detangles any tangled fur. This protects it from some diseases. If the fur is short, then brushing is for bonding and comforting purposes. The Netherland dwarf rabbit is a favorite and has a low maintenance coat. A comb can be used to detangle any problem areas.
- Trim your rabbit’s nails and cut their teeth. To do this, look for sharp nail clippers that are specifically made for these pets. Wrap the dwarf in a towel for a good hold in case it becomes squirmy. If not sure how to do this, let your vet do it. Doing it the wrong way can seriously hurt your rabbit.
- Vaccinate your dwarf rabbit to protect it from fatal diseases like Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus. Get the vaccinations at 4 weeks and after every 6 months.
- Look for hard plastic toys that they cannot chew or tear apart.
- Monitor your them daily.
- They sometimes eat their own poop. This is because it contains nutrition and keeps them healthy.
- Sounds bunnies make include: squealing when scared, clicking teeth when happy and growling or grunting when about to bite.
- Wild rabbits warn others of danger by thumping their back feet against the ground. Pet rabbits do the same when trying to warn their owners.
- The Guide to Owning Dwarf Rabbits by Dennis Kelsey-Wood
- Dwarf Rabbits: How To Take Care Of Them And Understand Them by Monika Wegler
- Dwarf Rabbits by Buffy Silverman