Dwarf rabbits are a smaller version of the common rabbit. They are tiny, cute, with big eyes and thin ears on top of their heads. They come in a range of colors; brown, black, gray, orange, and yellow. Unlike other rabbit breeds, dwarf ones have become a highly demanded pet due to their cute, innocent appearance and pleasant personalities.
A bit of history
Dwarf rabbits originated from Europe. The Netherland dwarf was introduced into the UK as early as 1948. It was later on accepted In the U.S by the American Rabbit Breeders Association in 1969.
The initial dwarfs were aggressive. This is because the pets were a result of breeders selecting wild species. However, generations of selective breeding resulted in the modern dwarf rabbits. For instance, the modern Netherland dwarf is gentler and friendlier, although it still retains a bit more energy compared to larger breeds. The large head and big eyes make the pet look more like a baby even into adulthood.
Dwarf breeds come in different sizes. They can be as tiny as one and a half pounds to three or three and a half pounds. These species are hailed as fun pets, not only for children but also adults. Similar to dogs and cats, they can be litter trained. However, these rabbits require special care; from proper grooming habits to a proper diet and clean sleeping area. The care given to this pet is important as it affects its lifespan.
Dwarf rabbit lifespan
For a standard rabbit, the lifespan is about 7 to 12 years. However, for dwarf species, the lifespan is a bit longer, about 10-12 years. According to the rabbit welfare association, the smaller it is, the longer its lifespan is. That said, it is important to note that sudden diseases could shorten this lifespan. Just like human beings, a sudden disease can lead to serious issues especially if left unchecked. That is why it is important to take good care of the rabbit and consult a veterinarian in case of any illnesses.
Common breeds and lifespans
The common breeds in the market include:
- Netherland dwarf rabbit – Its normal lifespan is 5 to 6 years but if it is neutering happens early, it can live to 10 years
- Lionhead Dwarf Rabbit – The average lifespan is 7 to 9 years. However, your diet choice can greatly affect how long each will stay.
- Mini Lop – According to rabbitmatters.com. “The lifespan of a mini lop is 5 to 10 years. Some live longer to maybe 12 years with the average age being 6 or 7 years, but the age of any rabbit is dependent on care and, just as importantly, diet”.
- Dwarf Hotot – It has a life expectancy of about 7 to 10 years which is comparable to a normal bunny.
How do I know if my bunny is ill?
There are certain telltale signs you can check for to know if your rabbit is skin. They include:
- Decreased activity: As prey species, rabbits commonly hide their illness pretty well. As a consequence, it may be difficult to identify if your bunny is ill. However, some changes such as decreased activity can be an indication that all may not be well. If they are less playful or are acting in a way that is contrary to the normal, then you can consider contacting your veterinarian.
- Decreased appetite: Digestive ailments are a common condition in rabbits. Therefore if you notice that your pet is not eating, or is eating less, then probably something’s wrong. Furthermore, changes in the bunny’s water intake could also be an indication of a health issue. For instance, an increase in water intake could be an indication of a problem involving the kidneys or urinary tract.
- Changes in appearance: Changes such as hair loss, unkempt fur, drooling, or staining on the fur from fecal or urine could be an indication of a health issue. Similar to cats, bunnies know how to keep themselves clean. So, any changes in appearance should be a cause for concern.
- Change in stool for instance diarrhea, or decreased stool. It is advisable to monitor your pet’s stool as a strategy for checking any illnesses. Typically, the stool should be solid, pellet shaped. Stool that is decreased in size or loose is an indication of an illness.
- Discharge from nose, difficulty in breathing or sneezing. Rabbits are nasal breathers. Therefore, any respiratory issue can be dangerous. If you notice your pet is breathing through the mouth or is having nasal discharge or difficulty in breathing, then you should consult a pediatrician immediately.
- Change in Urine: Any color changes, bloodstained urine is an indication of illness. The normal urine ranges from yellow to dark orange-red.
- Biting or changes in behavior such as growling or attacking. Young rabbits that have not been neutered can exhibit aggressive behaviors. Also, if your bunny spends time outside and gets exposed to unaltered rabbits, then it may exhibit these behaviors. Bunnies experiencing conditions such as arthritis, or any issue affecting the endocrinal glands can also exhibit abnormal behaviors.
Failure to promptly identify an illness can significantly affect the lifespan of your pet. Therefore it is advisable to pay attention to any changes that you may observe and contact your vet in case of anything. One way of timely identifying any changes is by adopting good grooming practices for your pet. Grooming does not mean washing or bathing the bunny. Rather, it entails brushing your pets’ fur, trimming the nails, and cleaning certain parts of its body such as the ears as they may end up with ear mites for instance.
Grooming your pet at least once a week is a sure way of ensuring that no illness creeps up on your pet without your knowledge. When grooming your pet, also check that the teeth are wearing out properly and that the eyes are not watery.
Other signs of illness include:
- Sores on the bottom of the feet
- Bumps and lumps on the skin
- Head tilt/poor coordination
Your pet’s lifespan can also be affected by the type of food you give your bunny. A healthy diet should contain high fiber. This diet should be low in carbohydrates and proteins. It should contain a mix of hay, pellets, and vegetables. Prevent your bunny from ingesting human food such as junk food, or non-food items such as carpet fibers and plastic. Also, ensure that you give your pet fresh water to keep it hydrated. Lastly, opt for healthy treats such as strawberries or bananas for your pet bunny.
Whether a dwarf or a standard rabbit, the lifestyle of a pet can be disrupted by poor care practices or diet. Therefore, to ensure that your pet lives the full length of its years, grooming him/her regularly and ensure that they have a proper diet, regular exercise, and a clean place to stay. Don’t forget to show them how much you love them by regularly cuddling them and taking time to play with them.
- Lucile C Moore, Kathy Smith. When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care: Traditional and Alternative Healing Methods. Santa Monica Press,2008