Care of Dwarf Bunnies for Beginners
Dwarf bunnies make an excellent pet for a first time pet owner, a child, or anyone who wants a cuddly pet that doesn’t take up much space. Some of the best traits about the dwarf bunny are that it doesn’t have to be taken outside every few hours to potty like a dog, it is fairly quiet compared to other traditional pets, and it doesn’t have to be walked or let outside in order to be properly exercised. Before you decide to adopt a dwarf bunny, it would be a good idea to explore this species and get a good idea about the care that is involved in raising this kind of animal.
Dwarf bunnies are named after their smaller-than-average size. In fact, the rabbits that qualify as being dwarf-sized are among the smallest domesticated rabbits in the world. Unlike other animals such as teacup dogs, whose small size occurs as the result of breeding small dogs with one another throughout several generations, dwarf rabbits are actually the result of a genetic condition called the “dwarfing gene.”
Because the dwarfing gene can affect many different species of rabbit, you would have your pick of virtually any color! Most dwarf bunnies average around two to three pounds with a maximum weight of four pounds. Some of popular breeds of dwarf bunny include the American Fuzzy Lop, Holland Lop, and Lionhead. Almost all dwarf bunnies have some sort of traits that can be traced back to the Netherland Dwarf, which is the most widely found breed of dwarf bunny in the world.
Unlike choosing among the many breeds of dog, choosing a rabbit breed isn’t nearly as straightforward. There is no such thing as a straightforward guide to rabbit personalities because these animals differ so much on an individual basis. One cannot make a generalization about a breed’s behavior because there are simply too many unpredictable factors, such as bloodlines and socialization (or lack thereof) early on in the rabbit’s life. Traits like being good with children or having a docile nature are largely rooted in the bloodline, and unfortunately many dwarf bunnies are bred to achieve a particular appearance, such as a pure white coat or white body with black spots. As many breeders tend to concentrate on what kind of appearance they want their dwarf rabbits to have, there tends to be a lot of unpredictability when it comes to the resulting rabbit’s personality.
If possible, try to choose a rabbit from a breeder that you know and can trust. Ask questions about the rabbit’s parentage and, if possible, meet with the rabbit’s parents to get an idea of how they are when handled or placed near children. Also bear in mind that the rabbit’s personality is not based solely on genetics—a lot of it has to do with what the animal is exposed to at an early age. Socialization with other humans (especially children) and other pets and giving the animal a routine which it can depend on will encourage feelings of security, confidence, and general happiness, all of which contribute to the animal’s behavior.
Physical Activity and Handling Tips
Although it would seem logical that the smaller the bunny, the less active it would be; however, that is simply not the case with most dwarf bunnies. In truth, most average or large-sized rabbits tend to be less active than their dwarf counterparts. If you think that the dwarf bunny may be right for you because you live in a house or apartment with limited space then you might be in for a big surprise. Dwarf rabbits are very fast and they are notorious for sprinting back and forth across the house in the wee hours of the morning if left to their own devices. If your plan is to leave the rabbit in a cage for the majority of the day then you are surely sentencing the rabbit to a life of discontent. Dwarf bunnies need plenty of room to stretch their legs and satisfy their need to expend pent-up energy. Allowing the rabbit free-run of the house for a few hours is a great way to encourage health and happiness in your pet which also means that he/she would be more likely to rest in contentment on your lap after a good run.
Handling dwarf rabbits may take some getting used to in the beginning, especially if you have young children, as a rough touch could literally break a bone! The easiest way to handle a dwarf rabbit is to support as much of the lower and middle part of his body as you can. Try to keep your hands away from his face and mouth, as this could make him uncomfortable. When petting the rabbit, try a gentle sweep from the back of his head down his back. It may take some time to learn what kind of handling your individual rabbit prefers, so pay attention to his body language to discover his preferences. If he starts to dig his nails into your skin or lap then this is a good indicator that he doesn’t like what you’re doing or that he needs to go potty.
Cage and Feeding Requirements
In order for dwarf bunnies to have a happy existence, they must have an appropriate living space. The ideal environment for a pet rabbit is a cage or rabbit hutch. You can construct one yourself if you have some spare wood and 14-gauge wire, but this really isn’t necessary as rabbit cages can be purchased from most pet stores for around $50 - $70, depending on the size of the cage and the materials from which it is made. If your rabbit is not going to have free run of the house very often then you should be sure to get him a spacious cage so that he can get adequate exercise. If you do plan to let him out of the cage on a daily basis then a smaller cage may suffice.
Natural fiber bedding can be placed on the floor of the cage and will need to be checked regularly so that soiled matter can be removed. The good news is that rabbits are fairly hygienic creatures and tend to potty in one corner of their cage, which makes cleanup a breeze! Be sure to have a food bowl and a water bottle in your rabbit’s cage. Although a fist-full of hay and a small serving of rabbit food (in pellet form) is all the food your dwarf rabbit will need in a day, he should have access to fresh water at all times.
If you think that you can provide a dwarf rabbit with a happy home and lifestyle then you should definitely consider getting one of these playful, happy animals!