Enjoying the company of a rabbit as your companion is very rewarding. These cute creatures are expressive and exhibit various amusing behaviours, they can be groomed, housetrained, are clean and are adorable cuddle buddies. The Netherland Dwarf Rabbit is as you guessed, a tiny compact rabbit that originated in the Netherlands! They are the smallest breed of rabbit, and are popular because of their cute features. They weigh approximately 1.5kg at the most and have a lifespan of 9-10 years. They have small body, short neck, broad head, disproportionately large eyes, and ears around 5cm long. There are several colours of this rabbit, including black, brown, tan, white, orange, and most of the variations in between. Most of the rabbits you see in rabbit shows will be Netherland Dwarfs, or some variation of them, because of their good looks.
You may have heard of this rabbit as being a bit wild and hard to get along with, but this is not true. The first rabbits of this breed originated around 1950, and they were quite skittish and non-domesticated. However, many years of selective breeding means that this rabbit is now gentle, friendly and sometimes even timid. These rabbits are delicate and best suited to an adult care giver, and children should be monitored with them. Their size does not deter them from activity, so you will still need a good amount of space for them to run around in. It is possible to litter train them, but a successful outcome will depend on persistence.
It is important not to overfeed this tiny bunny. A balanced diet should consist of 70-80% hay and grass, with specially formulated rabbit food and a small amount of vegetables added as a supplement. An interesting note is that these rabbits can’t just eat any lettuce. Some of the darker leaf types are suitable, the lighter variety can contain too much water and give your pet diahorrea. It is best to ask your local Just For Pets store for the specific varieties. Your rabbit will love to be given fresh room temperature water and if you change their bottle at a regular time, they will learn to sit and wait just before you replace the bottle, and then have a huge drink to make the most of it.
Rabbits are vulnerable to worms, ticks, fleas, and other parasites so it is best to protect them with an over-the-counter preventative treatment. Your pet rabbit should also be provided with chew toys, as rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. The rabbit will file them down to an appropriate length with the use of these toys and high fibre foods.
Rabbits will be most content living in a cage indoors, safe from predators. Line the cage with a wood panel, wood shavings or fresh hay (which help protect your rabbits feet from ulcerating), which should be removed and replaced at least once or twice a week. The rabbit will require more hay for cushioning during pregnancy, and more for warmth in cooler months. Your dwarf bunny requires her cage to be large enough to move around comfortably and have adequate ventilation. Provide a litter tray and empty it daily, making sure to avoid cedar shavings or clay cat litters which are hazardous to your dwarf rabbit.
In summer Netherland Dwarf Rabbits are prone to heat stroke because their little body heats up so quickly, so a good tip in the warmer months is to freeze a large water bottle and place it in their cage to act as a cooler.
There are some health issues for this breed. Female rabbits are vulnerable to uterine cancer if not de-sexed; their small body and organs means that viral diseases are life threatening; inadequate diet can lead to digestion issues and ear mites are also common. They also need access to sunlight which enables rabbits to produce Vitamin D, which in turn enables the absorption of calcium in their diet.
Grooming your rabbit is simple. You will need a soft brush that can be run through your pets coat once a week. As your rabbit grows and moults you will need to brush away the extra fur, if too much fur is ingested it can be fatal.
Accessories you will need to have on hand are a carrier with enough room to manouver (for trips to the vet), toys for stimulation, and a digging box (a simple cardboard box with soil will do). Exercise is important for your rabbit and it is imperative that you do not underestimate the space requirement for your pet. All rabbits no matter their breed should have an area outside their hutch to exercise, this will also assist in wearing down their nails and to maintain body tone. You can create or buy a playpen which is a convenient way to keep your bunny out of trouble!
Your dwarf bunny will be happiest living in a pair. They are naturally social animals and like to keep company with those of their own kind. Keeping a pair of rabbits also encourages social grooming, they help each other get to those hard to reach spots!
Please note it is still illegal to own a rabbit in QLD except if you are a magician, and some states require a permit. Check with your local Just For Pets store if pet rabbits are allowed to be kept in your state as a pet.
- Certain lettuce