I dare to say that even the most rigid and stoic among us must simply have to soften a bit when it comes to the topic of lop-eared Rabbits. They are so adorable they almost don’t appear to be real. Their unbelievable “cuteness” almost seems to be like a stuffed animal designed to look unrealistically angelic and sweet. But these little creatures are most assuredly real and are likely to immediately grab your heart. So if you’re that person who finds yourself drawn to browsing kitten and puppy videos online, get ready for a fun and enjoyable read. Prepare to learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about these enchanted little creatures – the lop-eared rabbit!
We All Know What Lop Eared Rabbits Are – Or Do We?
A lop-eared rabbit is precisely as it sounds. It’s a rabbit who has ears that lop over rather than being erect as we usually see depicted. All rabbits can have moments where one or the other ear lops down, but the actual Lop-eared rabbit’s ears are always in that downward position. There are 305 different known breeds of domestic rabbits. Lop-eared rabbits are actually quite rare and make up about 15% of breeds officially recognized as lop-eared rabbits by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA)or with the listings in the British Rabbit Council (BRC).
Why Do They Have Lop Ears?
It’s all in the genes! The adorable look of the floppy ears is most likely in this down position because their ears are thicker and longer than their erect-eared counterparts. Genetic studies of lop-eared breeds indicate they owe their droopy ears to a mutated gene. This genetic marker results in an ear size that is almost double that of the usual rabbit.
Is There Any Downside to Having Lop Ears?
Having lop-ears does come with some inherent health problems. The size of their skull and the shape of their ears can make these sweet creatures prone to health challenges. Precisely what makes them so cute is what results in their inherent health issues – their adorable floppy ears.
The genetic trait giving them droopy ears also leads to developing problems generally with their ears and teeth. Any lop-eared pet requires the owner to pay particular attention to their rabbit’s ears. The large ear size, accompanied by the downward folded position, and the nature of the delicate ear canal – results in commonplace injuries and infections. Proper care can greatly alleviate this. It’s crucial to maintain a routine of keeping the ears clean inside and out.
Lop Ear Types
Half Lop Ears
Just as you might expect from the name, this type of lop ear-lopping indicates that one ear is erect while the other ear is lopped down. There are varying degrees, the ear may be partially or fully drooping.
Oar Lop Ears
Oar lop ears droop only halfway down. The oar lop ears will be resting just above the shoulders of the rabbit which resembles the oars sticking out on a boat.
Horn Lop Ears
On rare occasions, the rabbit’s ears may not lop to the side. The ears may instead droop forward. Horn lop ears are in a horizontal position to the ground – as is the case with oar ears. However, horn lop ears are outward above the rabbit’s nose rather than at shoulder level. This can give the ears an appearance that resembles horns.
Lop Eared Rabbit Breeds
There are actually 19 different breeds of lop-eared rabbits around the world. Only 5 among them are officially recognized by ARBA and 9 different breeds are recognized by the BRC. Below we have reviewed the 9 lop breeds most commonly accepted. It should be noted that new lop-eared rabbit varieties are constantly being bred.
1. Miniature Lop-Eared
The miniature lop-eared rabbit is not only adorable because of its characteristic droopy ears, but this tiny breed is among the smallest in the bunny world. This rabbit is very sweet-natured and has soft short fur. They are both lovable and affectionate – making them an ideal pet. This breed is a low-maintenance option.
2. American Fuzzy Lop Eared Rabbit
As you might imagine from its name, this lop-eared rabbit breed comes from the United States. The American Fuzzy has long soft fur – but not as soft as their Angora cousins. While the fur is soft, it doesn’t have that silky Angora soft appearance. The fur generally looks fuzzy, frizzy & frazzled. This rabbit has an abundance of energy but will still stop for affection. This rabbit is not as low maintenance as the miniature lop ear rabbit. The long fur will require effort to groom.
3. French Lop Eared Rabbits
This flop-eared breed differs from the other two previously mentioned because this little guy isn’t such a little guy. This breed can grow to giant proportions reaching a weight upwards of 13 pounds. Due to their large size, they can be more difficult to hold and maneuver. On occasion, this breed might unintentionally scratch or kick a non-furry human friend. If the size is manageable, this breed tends to have very loveable personalities and they enjoy affection. These rabbits also have soft fur coats.
4. English lop Eared rabbits
This breed is another among the lop-eared rabbits that are characterized as being a large lop-eared rabbit – reaching an adult size of up to 11 pounds. This rabbit has soft short fur and a very loveable affectionate nature as was the case with the others.
5. Lop Eared Lion Head
This lop-eared rabbit earned its name because of its likeness in appearance to a lion’s mane. The Lion Head rabbit is typically smaller in size. They can tend to lose the lion’s mane appearance as they move into adulthood. They do not always outgrow the mane, but it merits mentioning as it is a possibility. This rabbit is a very active and energetic cutie.
6. Holland Lop Eared Rabbit
This rabbit is both smaller in size and more compact in stature. This breed is known for standing upright. The fur is short and comes in a variety of many color shades and patterns. This breed is recognized by its broad, deep shoulders. And while all rabbits are fast, the Holland Lop is characteristically quick & agile even among rabbits. This lop-eared rabbit is a very popular breed.
7. German Lop Eared Rabbit
The German Lop-eared rabbit is known for being a tough resilient sort of breed with a stocky robust frame. This breed can come in a range from short to medium very soft fur. They come in a multitude of shades, colors, and patterns. One extremely notable characteristic is their little rabbit crown. Fur grows between the ears that appear “crown-like”. This breed is generally medium-sized and can reach an adult weight of six pounds.
8.Cashmere Lop Eared Rabbit
This Cashmere lop earned its name primarily because of its super soft luxurious fur. There’s just no competition! They simply have the longest fur among all the rabbits in the lop-eared family. This breed is rather small. Full adult weight is around four pounds. As is true of the other breeds with long soft fur, This breed will require more grooming.
9.Plush Lop Eared Rabbit
The plush lop-eared rabbit is very new on the scene and is actually among those that is a man-made breed. The genetic design behind this breed was to combine the best traits of several different rabbits to include; soft fur, long ears, and docile nature. This breed is shiny with a thick coat of medium-long fur and has characteristic big eyes. Genetic “tweaking” continues so they are considered a breed that is a work in progress.
What You Need to Know Before Considering Ownership
Rabbits are very active, energetic, and playful animals, and it’s quite easy to talk ourselves into ownership. They are very social and can form close connections with other rabbits in a home as well as with people. They have enormous potential to be wonderful pets as long as you know what to expect. The ideal matchup for a pet rabbit and the owner is a person or a group/family with the time, space, and willingness to commit to an active energetic pet that likes to cuddle and play and also requires a bit of maintenance. These sweet creatures require a lot of interaction for optimal health & happiness. This daily interaction can come with owners or other rabbits, but this attention is crucial.
What are the Costs Involved?
Expect to pay $20-$40 for a rabbit from a pet store, and $5-$20 for a rabbit from a rescue facility, a pet fair, or a 4-H club adoption. Of course, breeders vary in what they charge for their specific breed of rabbit. It isn’t uncommon to find a breeder’s price cheaper than a pet store while others will charge closer to $100 for a rare breed. Then there are show rabbits and breeding rabbits with champion bloodlines that will come at a premium cost just as you’d find with purebred dogs, cats or horses with champion bloodlines.
Committing to Rabbit Ownership
The obvious association we make between rabbits and the Easter holiday means rabbits often are impulsively purchased as a symbolic pet around Easter. Sadly, this impulsive choice results in many of these rabbits being neglected or end up unwanted in an animal shelter. And once they are little baby rabbits, they are much less adoptable and are much harder to place in loving homes. All prospective owners should be certain they are ready for the long-term haul and can provide a forever home for this new loving affectionate bunny. This should be a long thought out strategic decision. This is no place for impulsive decisions.
Giving a Rabbit a Second Chance
The best and least costly option is to consider adopting a rabbit from a nearby shelter or rescue. While you may not find an exact breed or color of a rabbit among the selection, you’ll find many wonderful sweet rabbits who are needing a second chance to find that loving forever home. There shouldn’t be any worries about possibly getting an older rabbit. They often seem to be extra appreciative of a second home and bond with a new owner even more quickly than a younger rabbit. Getting a sense of an older rabbit’s personality can almost be instantaneous when they are given love & affection.
Housing for Your Rabbit
Rabbits are natural prey for larger predator animals. This means that housing your rabbit outdoors is generally not a good idea – unless careful measures are taken to protect your rabbit. When not being directly supervised, the rabbit should be in a cage or crate at least 3-4 feet long. Avoid wire-bottomed cages. Rabbits have tender feet and need a less harsh surface on the bottom. The plastic in the bottom of a dog crate is a much preferable choice.
Inside the crate, provide your rabbit with:
- A Variety of fun toys: plastic chewy toys, cardboard to chew on- items to keep their fast-growing teeth healthy
- Something to hop up on for leg strength – like a shelf or box
- Sturdy ceramic water & food dishes
- A appropriate litter box – filled with acceptable filler – no cat box litter
Making a Nice Comfy Bed
Unlike guinea pigs and hamsters, your rabbit will not absolutely require bedding in its cage. They don’t use it to burrow in for warmth. Giving them a soft surface is nice -but not required.
If you run out of rabbit bedding or litter – or don’t want to go to the expense of buying bedding – there are plenty of low-cost alternatives. Just a little bit of ingenuity and effort, and you can transform common household items into very fine materials to use in your fuzzy pet’s habitat. Consider using these five alternatives below. And take note of a few you should never use.
What NOT to Use for Rabbit Bedding
Corn can sometimes be used as part of a rabbit litter blend or in bedding products. This can pose a serious problem to the rabbit’s digestive system if it’s eaten. the sweet smell of the corn can entice the rabbit to try a taste and before you know it you have a real health problem.
Cat litter is flat out for cats – not rabbits! It is not appropriate to use in any way in the rabbit’s habitat. Cat litter can produce harmful & toxic dust that can result in respiratory issues and infections.
Avoid shavings especially from pine and cedar. Shavings are sometimes used in a wood shaving blend as part of a bedding blend or a litter mix for smaller animals. These contain toxic oils that are a risk to the health of your rabbit. Never use them!
What Are Bedding and Litter Fillers That ARE safe?
Even though it is true that rabbits do not require bedding materials, giving them a cozy nesting place will surely add to their overall health & happiness.
A Bedding Option Should Do One of Two Things:
(1) Makes the Nest More Comfortable
Any soft and squishy surface gives your pet a better place to nap, play, and simply enjoy life. Strategically placing pillows or blankets in the bottom go a long way toward making wire cages less hostile for a rabbit’s sensitive little paws.
(2) The Material Helps Keep them Clean
Absorbent materials will soak up and help mitigate any spills or accidental messes. This can be a huge lifesaver when you’re litter training your pet.
Safe & Effective Bedding Materials
Consider these handy safe bedding materials for your rabbits bedding:
- Shredded Paper
- Shredded Cardboard
What About Housing My Rabbit Outside?
There are two major concerns when considering keeping your rabbit outside; the weather elements, and ensuring they are safe from predators. To keep your rabbits truly comfortable & safe, you’ll need an outdoor hutch design that provides protection from both weather and predators equally well.
The best way to ensure your rabbit’s safety from bad weather and predators is quite simply to keep your pet sheltered from the weather and out of reach. If the hutch enclosure is perched up off the ground, it makes it much more difficult for any predator to access them. Additionally, being up and off the ground, protects them from the natural tendency for water to accumulate and leak into any hutch that is on the ground.
Another Hazard of Outdoor Housing
Beyond the very obvious hazards of weather and predators, there’s another very real issue with housing your rabbit outdoors. Put simply, they become out of sight and out of mind and can often be neglected from the attention and love they so desperately require. Some owners elect to have an outdoor hutch for them to stay in when needed, but provide an indoor option so these sweet creatures can live among their human family and not risk being forgotten.
Features to Specifically Watch for:
- Elevated Design – Keeps the Safe & Dry
- A Removable Tray on Bottom for more Convenient Easy Cleaning
- Wire Fencing Design Provides Ventilation and Sturdy Protection
- Multiple Entries to Easily Access & Clean the Hutch
You can buy ready-made commercial outdoor hutches or instead consider building an outdoor hutch on your own. If you’re comfortable with do-it-yourself(DIY) projects – or if you’d simply like the option to add customized features – being extra particular to give your rabbit the very best – you can consider these 9 Free DIY Outdoor Rabbit Hutches Just a forewarning, looking at each the commercial hutches for sale as well as browsing DIY plans was almost like home shopping for myself. You quickly get carried away with all the cool features and how you can go far beyond creating an outdoor hutch – but can rather maximize it to be a “Bunny Castle”. There are all sorts of fun comforts and luxuries you might include. I’d suggest setting aside some time to pursue all the choices. The options are amazing – and really quite endless if you choose to build the hutch yourself!
Dealing with the Litter Box!
Specifically, dealing with the urine smells is an important issue to plan for. Rabbit urine can have a very strong odor so frequent litter box changes should be expected. Choosing to spay or neuter can be helpful in reducing urine odor. Also, rabbit urine is quite high in calcium. When it dries, it often leaves a chalky white residue that is hard to clean. Using vinegar is usually very effective to remove it.
Many pet owners allow the rabbit to roam the house when they are home. If you choose to give your pet this freedom, you should take measures to rabbit-proof the area. As rabbits love chewing, electrical wires lying about and plugged in extension cords are at just the right level for your pet to find one and chew on it.
If you’re not the type to allow your rabbit the run of your house, consider having an exercise pen. Pens that are designed for puppies are an ideal solution: providing plenty of exercise space without giving them the dangerous option of exploring potentially hazardous areas.
Is Cat Litter Safe For the Litter Box?
As previously discussed when considering pet bedding materials, cat litter is FOR CATS. It is harmful to rabbits. This choice is not wise and can cause the rabbit serious digestive problems, even death.
Safe Rabbit Litter Choices
Hay is often a choice for rabbit food, but can be used as rabbit litter also.
Aspen can be a good litter alternative. Aspen is harder than pine or cedar shavings, and can serve as a good alternative if in a pinch.
Newspaper shavings or litters made from paper are an excellent choice for litter. They are non-toxic, chemical-free, and biodegradable. There are several commercial litters made from paper, but it can easily be made on your own with a newspaper shredder.
Compressed wood stove pellets can be an option instead of wood shavings. These can be purchased in any hardware store.
Food and Water
Rabbits do well on a diet based on grass hay such as oat hay, timothy, or orchard grass. You should avoid alfalfa hay. Rabbits also need green leafy vegetables in their diet. Ideal vegetable choices include various lettuce varieties(except iceberg), watercress, cucumbers, carrot tops, sprouts and herbs. On a more limited supply, you can provide other fruits & vegetables. Always check to be certain anything you offer is rabbit-safe.
Offering your rabbit commercial rabbit pellets is acceptable as well, but limit the amount as too much can interfere with their digestion. You should avoid pellets that are made with any amount of dried corn or nut ingredients. A blocked digestive system is one of the greatest threats to your rabbit’s health, and water is key in keeping digestion moving along. Be sure your rabbit has readily available cool, clean, and non-chlorinated water continually available.
Veterinarian & Health Care
A healthy lop-eared rabbit makes for a delightful pet. As with any pet, rabbits will likely require some routine veterinary care. You may also need to locate an exotic vet – which can be expensive. Regular trips to the vet and providing a healthy diet can do a lot to ensure your rabbit stays happy & healthy. Rabbit vaccinations may be required depending on where you live. Spaying or neutering should occur at the hand of a vet who has experience operating on rabbits.
Common Health Problems
Rabbits are prone to certain medical problems such as:
- Abdominal Stasis ( Inability to digest food or pass waste)
- Bacterial infections
- Ear mites and fleas
- Overgrown teeth
- Overgrown toenails
Not all of these issues require a vet. For instance, some owners can keep their rabbit’s toenails clipped. Offering plenty of chewy toys and food can help to avoid overgrown teeth. It’s also possible to treat mites and fleas on your own, but it’s always the best idea to check in with your vet first to be safe.
Why Do Rabbits Get Sick?
Rabbits get sick for a number of reasons. Exposure to germs, eating something that causes sickness, having a genetic predisposition to a particular condition, or various other reasons. Because their status is at the lower end of the food chain, rabbits will typically hide any sign of illness. Outwardly showing signs of weakness makes them vulnerable to becoming prey. Your pet probably isn’t at any risk of being eaten, but watching carefully to catch early signs of sickness is critical.
Common General Signs of Illness:
- Rabbit is lethargic and may have difficulty moving
- Rabbit has dull eyes, wet mouth, and discharge out of the eyes and or nose
- Even if lethargic – may have moments of unusual aggression
- Either has no interest in food or has difficulty eating
- Grinding teeth, whining or rapid breathing
- diarrhea or fewer rabbit droppings
Specific Signs of Trouble
Lowered energy and appetite:
Rabbits show two significant signs of illness: decreased energy (or lethargy) and decreased appetite – usually both. These are vague symptoms that can apply to any number of illnesses. Watch your rabbit’s food and water consumption as it’s a quick way to spot if your pet is having issues.
Missing or excessive stools:
Rabbit gastrointestinal stasis (RGIS) is common when the animal stops eating. The digestive system slows down and the rabbit stops dropping stool. The lack of stool might be a result of inadequate appetite, dental issues, a lack of fiber, or could be a secondary problem such as liver disease or cancer. Loose stools or diarrhea can also be a sign of trouble, possibly indicating a parasite or bacterial disease.
Poor grooming habits:
Rabbits are known to be persnickety self-groomers and keep themselves clean. Signs that the rabbit isn’t cleaning itself should be considered not normal. Seeing signs such as stained paws, matted fur, or uncleaned fecal matter is an indicator that your rabbit is not well. Drooling mouth or nose, missing hair on the pet’s head and neck are all indicators of sickness – most likely dental disease. Additionally, seeing dandruff, fur loss, or a coat that appears abnormal – can all be signs of an infection. Infections can be contagious and affect other animals or even humans in the household.
A Rabbit only breathes through its nose, so an upper respiratory tract issue presents a serious problem. If it appears that your rabbit has cold symptoms; sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, breathing problems, and open-mouth breathing, your pet needs to go see a vet ASAP.
The types of treatments the veterinarian might use are numerous and will depend on the condition your rabbit has. In route to getting professional help, seek to keep the rabbit hydrated and warm. Using a syringe with both water and soft foods such as baby food or applesauce will help. Illness can come on quickly in rabbits so it’s wise to have a vet that specifically treats rabbits lined up ahead of an emergency. Thereafter, visits should occur every six months. Regular vet exposure enhances the possibility that a professional can catch an issue before it blossoms into a much bigger problem.
It’s never entirely possible to prevent illness in any pet – including rabbits. However, taking preventative steps will help. Feeding pets a healthy diet, providing a clean and loving environment, avoiding extreme temperature exposure go a long way toward maintaining good health. Touching them to examine for abnormalities will help you spot lumps or injury and is as important as watching their behavior for illness. This “touching examination” will become part of your natural routine in giving them love and affection. Rabbits quickly adapt to the physical attention and you’ll get used to tending to them and thoroughly enjoy it.
Let’s Sum it All Up!
Lop-eared rabbits can be a delightful choice as a house pet and offer the owner an adorable, loving & affectionate companion if careful consideration is given to what ownership really means. These flop-eared angelic critters have specific needs which are directly related to those sweet droopy ears. After being knowledgeable and accepting what is entailed in giving a home to one of these delightful little companions, a lop-eared rabbit might be just the pet for you!