Raising lionhead rabbits is about as much fun as rabbit raising gets! I am adopted mom to my daughter’s many lionheads and watching them is a delight. I feed and water them at least several times a week with my little grandson’s help.
It is generally believed that the lionhead rabbit originated in Belgium as a result of the crossbreeding of the Swiss Fox and a Belgian Dwarf. Then crosses to a smaller wool type breed were made. Later the breed was imported to England where continued crossbreeding of small breed rabbits and wool breeds was done.
However, another opinion is that the lionhead breed did not originate in Belgium. It is thought by some that when European breeders were working on the Dwarf Angora the lionhead mutation occurred in a litter of bunnies and was accidentally spread throughout the Dwarf Angora Breed. Whichever actually happened, the first lionhead rabbits were imported to the US in 1999.
Lionhead rabbits get their name from the mane they grow that looks very similar to the mane of a lion. I assure you, the similarity stops there. The manes can be double or single and of course, the double manes are the prettiest. Interestingly the gene that causes the mane seems to be a dominant mutation which means that only one parent is required to have the “mane gene” to produce more lionheads.
The needs of rabbits are very minimal and lionhead rabbits are no exception. A cage, a food dish that can be attached to the cage and a water bottle, also attached to the cage are all that is required. Generally the cages have trays that slide out for easy cleaning which should be done at least every 3 or 4 days. Cages can be purchased at pet stores, farm supply stores or from rabbit raisers who make their own cages as well as sell them. Used cages can often be found at flea markets or through Craigslist.
Lionhead rabbits require no special grooming or care although they enjoy the extra attention. And, like all rabbits, the more handling they receive, the sweeter and nicer pets they make. LIONHEAD RABBITS tend to be very friendly, enjoying human contact. They are easy to handle and if brought into the home at a young age they become accustomed to human contact and make excellent pets.
They are healthy overall as a breed. So if you are looking for a mini rabbit (recommended standard for the adult is 3 3/4 pounds) that is a bit different and unusual, lionheads are a good choice due to their size, temperament and ease of care.
SPECIAL CARE REQUIREMENTS:
The lionhead rabbit mane can become felted similar to other wooled breeds, so it needs to be carefully brushed out periodically. Avoid vigorous brushing which could pull the wool out. Be patient and gentle and your rabbit will reward you by looking utterly gorgeous.
As with all wooled breeds, you need to make sure your lionhead rabbit gets sufficient fiber to prevent fur from balling up in their intestines. A good rule of thumb would be to feed only hay once a week, leaving out the rabbit ration on that day.