Known for its distinctive look, unique mane and lion-like appearance the lionhead bunny is gaining popularity quickly among rabbit enthusiasts. Although lionhead rabbits require more attention than traditional rabbit breeds, with the proper care these rabbits can live, on average, anywhere between seven and 10 years. Understanding the basics of rabbit care and the special needs of the lionhead bunny will help ensure a rabbit’s long and healthy life.
Spayed or Neutered
Spayed and neutered rabbits regularly outlive unaltered rabbits. Not only do the procedures help control the pet population, they prevent life-threatening cancers from developing. According to the House Rabbit Society, an unaltered rabbit is at risk for development of uterine or testicular tumors around age two. That risk continues to increase with age, and these cancers often are life-threatening. Since spayed and neutered rabbits rarely suffer these cancers, the procedure is critical to a rabbit’s overall health and lifespan.
When it comes to grooming, lionhead bunnies require significantly more attention than short-haired rabbits and must be brushed regularly. Not only does this brushing prevent painful matting, it helps decrease the risk of furballs. When rabbits groom themselves by licking, they sometimes ingest fur, causing furballs to form. Unlike other animals, rabbits cannot cough or vomit a furball loose, and these furballs can cause fatal intestinal blockages. Lionhair rabbits, because of their long hair, are particularly susceptible to fatal furballs. Proper grooming helps decrease this risk.
Indoor or Outdoor
Housing choices greatly impact a lionhead rabbit’s expected lifespan. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends all rabbits be housed indoors. Rabbits kept in outdoor hutches or pens are more likely to be victims of predators, such as cats, raccoons and hawks. Lionhead rabbits, because of their heavy coat, are more likely to succumb to the heat if kept outside during the summer months. Although housing a rabbit indoors presents its own set of challenges to keep a rabbit safe, it is a much safer alternative than keeping a rabbit outside.
Rabbits fed a healthy, balanced diet tend to live longer than rabbits not receiving proper nutritional care. A lionhead rabbit’s diet should consist of timothy hay, timothy hay pellets, and fresh leafy greens. While commercial rabbit feed containing extra seeds and colorful treats may look appetizing, those products often contain too much protein and nonnutritive fillers, and should be avoided. It also is important that a rabbit have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Jen Gehring is a political consultant and college law professor. She holds a J.D. from American University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Cincinnati. She began working as a professional writer in 2010.