Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Originates From: European Ancestors
Average Adult Size: 10-14 inches in length, 2-5 pounds
Average Lifespan: 8-12 years
Dwarf breeds of rabbits are becoming very popular due to their size and temperament. These rabbits have been bred to be house pets with a great disposition. Full-grown size varies depending on breed, but those in this category typically range from 2-5 pounds, in stark contrast to standard size rabbits ranging from about 7-40 pounds. Dwarf rabbits are small and calm enough to handle easily. Their size also allows them to be easily kept indoors as a house pet. Very intelligent, these rabbits can learn to come on call and be trained to use a litter pan. With breeds like the Holland Lop, Netherland Dwarf, Mini Rex, and others, who all showcase different colors, patterns, fur types, body types, and ear shapes, you’re sure to find your perfect match.
Lack of exercise can quickly lead to an overweight rabbit. A plastic base wire cage 30”x18” (minimum) is generally enough space for a single adult. Remember, this cage is primarily a place to sleep, potty, eat, and drink. Rabbits need time outside of the cage to roam and exercise and be handled by their caregivers. Consistent attention and handling maintain a well-behaved rabbit. Those isolated from the family for extended periods of time can become depressed or irritable, which can be difficult to correct. Provide various toys in the cage to keep the rabbit entertained. Rabbits’ teeth continually grow throughout their life. Wooden chew toys keep their teeth the appropriate length. Also, supply a hut in the cage, such as an Igloo, Woodland Hideaway, Chewbular, or Timothy Hay Bungalow. Line the cage with a soft, paper-based bedding, such as Clean and Cozy, CareFresh, or aspen shavings (do not use cedar or pine due to the oils and dust content), each of which is very absorbent and safe for animals. Because they can be easily litter box trained, place a small Hi-Corner litter pan in the corner of the cage that you observe the rabbit favoring for pottying. Add a rabbit-safe litter that is different from the bedding used in the rest of the cage, such as Crown Animal pellets. With a little reinforcement, rabbits can very quickly get the hang of it and will even return to the cage to potty when free-ranging in the home. Provide a heavy ceramic dish for food (the heavier the less likely they will knock the bowl over and spill the food). Also, provide a large water bottle attached to the side of the cage.
Lighting and Heating
Dwarf breeds are sensitive to temperatures and should not be housed outdoors like larger rabbits. Maintain a constant room temperature of about 65-75ºF and keep the cage away from drafty areas. Extended playtimes can occur outdoors at moderate temperatures (spring and fall). Provide an approximate 12-hour photoperiod using natural light or household lights, turning them off at night to simulate a day and night cycle.
Rabbits perform well in Idaho humidity and do not require modifications.
Being herbivores, the rabbit diet consists solely of plant matter. High-quality rabbit pellets should be used as the staple (feed according to guidelines). Pellets should consist of only 30% of the diet. 70% of the daily diet should be western timothy hay. Offer a handful each day in either a Hay Manger in the cage, or by simply placing the bundle in the corner of the cage (it will be visited throughout the day). Fresh fruits and vegetables can be offered daily in moderation (single apple slice, baby carrot, leafy greens, etc.). However, the digestive tract of a dwarf rabbit is very sensitive as a juvenile. Please refrain from giving any fresh greens, fruits, or vegetables for the first six months. Make sure to change the water daily.
Perform a nail trim with sharp clippers on an as-needed basis (usually monthly). Brush and groom as necessary (will depend on breed).