large adult fawn colored lionhead rabbit with full mane sitting in the grass

A Guide to Lionhead Rabbits

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The Lionhead Rabbit is a newer rabbit breed, recognized in the United Kingdom in 2002 and the United States in 2014.

These gorgeous buns have long fur and wool manes. They are small rabbits, but are still a big responsibility!

Adopting a Lionhead requires a large indoor space, time, dedication, and the willingness to keep a bunny for 8-10 years or more.

In this complete guide to Lionhead Rabbits, we’ll discuss everything you need to know: from what Lionhead rabbits eat to where they should live!

What do Lionhead Rabbits Look Like?

Lionhead Rabbits have different breed standards depending on the country. The United Kingdom recognizes many colors of Lionhead rabbit that the United States does not.

In the U.S., recognized varieties are Tort, Rew, Seal, Siamese Sable, Chocolate, and Black. There are also more colors being taken into consideration for approval.

One reason behind this differentiation is that the United States only recognized Lionhead Rabbits as an official breed in 2014. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom recognized the breed in 2002.

While this may seem like a small difference, it does mean that the U.K. had over a decade longer to set their breed standards.

Aside from color, Lionhead Rabbits have several other defining characteristics. This includes:

  • Small size
  • A wool mane
  • Long coat
  • Upright ears

These bunnies can have one, two, or even no mane genes. These determine whether they have a single or double mane. This doesn’t make a huge difference in grown rabbits, because you can only know whether your Lionhead has a single or double mane if you saw them as a newborn.

Baby Lionhead Rabbits with a single mane will look like any other rabbit, while double-maned babes will already have longer hair around their skirt and flanks.

black and white lionhead rabbit with long mane and upright ears
Full-grown black and white Lionhead Rabbit

How big do Lionhead Rabbits Get?

Lionhead Rabbits are a small breed that weigh around 3 pounds. They are around 8-10 inches long.

This is around the size of your average small rabbit.

Lionhead Rabbit Diet

A Lionhead Rabbit’s diet has various components, which we will go over in this section. First, a few notes:

  • Bunnies have sensitive stomachs, so new foods—even safe foods—should be introduced slowly to avoid upsetting their tummies.
  • Your Lionhead should always have fresh water available in a dish. Do not use a water bottle, as they may not receive enough hydration this way.
  • Rabbits love chewing, so your Lionhead should always be kept in a bunny-proofed space. Giving them safe things to chew, like untreated wood, can also be a good idea.

What do Lionhead Rabbits Eat in the Wild?

Lionhead Rabbits are a domesticated breed, so they don’t exist in the wild like the buns you see outside in your garden. They should never be set loose, as they’re unlikely to survive.

That said, rabbit diets are fairly similar across the board. Even giant rabbits eat a similar diet—just a LOT more food!

Wild rabbits are herbivores who eat mostly fresh grass, vegetables, and fruit when it’s available. They often scavenge in human gardens, as you might know, if you’ve ever tried to keep them away from your homegrown veggies!

In the winter, much of their food source is gone. Wild rabbits will then turn to a more wood-based diet consisting of bark, twigs, and pine needles.

Bunnies also eat their own feces as a healthy part of their diet. This is because it contains extra nutrients that the rabbit must digest for a second time to get the full benefits.

What Should You Feed Your Lionhead Rabbit?

learn what to feed your lionhead rabbit. Chocolate lionhead rabbit with carrot
Chocolate Lionhead Rabbit with carrot

Of course, a bunny living in a home eats differently than one in the wild—this is one of the reasons domesticated buns live longer than wild rabbits.

The first major difference is that we can provide our rabbits with fresh food year-round. Another is that we don’t have an abundant grass source, so we use hay as a replacement.

This is better for our bunnies because our lawns usually have toxins from mowing and chemical use.

The components of a Lionhead Rabbit’s diet are:

  • Hay
  • Vegetables
  • Pellets
  • Fruit

Fresh timothy hay is an essential part of any rabbit’s diet, making up over 70% of their daily food. Your Lionhead should never be without an abundance of hay, so be sure to replenish it at least once a day.

Never limit your bunny’s access to hay—this is the one thing they can eat as much as they want!

Next up is vegetables. Introduce these into your rabbit’s diet slowly until they have a variety of vegetables that they can eat every single day.

Just like variety is important in a human diet, it’s important for bunnies so that they get all the nutrients they need.

Some veggies to consider for your rabbit are parsley, spinach, carrot tops, and tiny cut pieces of celery (otherwise it’s too stringy!). Other greens are also great for them!

Your rabbit will also need high-quality pellets. Keep in mind that pet stores often sell pellets and other items that are unsuitable for rabbits, so do your research before buying!

Good pellets tend to look boring to humans, as they don’t contain a variety of textures and colors. They’re just plain and brown.

Quality pellets for your Lionhead rabbit should contain at least 18% protein. Feed pellets daily, but in moderation.

Lastly, fruits are an amazing treat for rabbits—but shouldn’t make up too much of their diet. Use fruit to socialize and train your bun, kind of like how you’d use dog treats for a pup!

Vegetables and fruits that are suitable for your Lionhead rabbit include:

Lionhead Rabbit Toxic Foods List

Many common foods are toxic to Lionhead rabbits. This includes some more obvious ones, but also some vegetables that you can easily mistake as healthy.

avocadoes are one of the common foods that are toxic to lionhead rabbits
Avocadoes are one of many foods that are toxic to rabbits

Foods toxic to Lionheads include:

  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Raw onions
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw garlic
  • Chives
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Broad beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Rhubarb
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Processed foods
  • Raw potatoes

Many common plants, both indoor and outdoor, are also toxic to rabbits. Be sure to bunny-proof any area your rabbit will be in and supervise their outdoor time.

Lastly, look out for other common household toxins such as cleaning supplies.

How Long do Lionhead Rabbits Live?

Lionhead rabbits live 8-10 years. Of course, this varies depending on genetics, health, and care.

Baby Lionhead rabbits might look like regular buns with no manes yet, or they might be double-maned and already have a lot of fur grown in!

They will continue growing until they are a full-grown Lionhead rabbit at around one-year-old. At this point, their mane will be around two inches long.

Lionhead rabbits should not be separated from their mother and litter until they are 6-8 weeks old.

However, many people adopt rabbits instead of purchasing them from a breeder—which we highly recommend!

There are many rescue rabbits out there searching for a home.

In this case, rabbits may be around six months or even older. They’ll have been vetted and spayed or neutered, giving you one less thing to worry about!

Lionhead Rabbit Grooming

Lionhead rabbits need a lot of grooming due to their long coats. It’s important to learn how to groom your Lionhead early so that their fur doesn’t get a chance to tangle. This will create painful mats that tug at your bunny’s skin as they move.

Groom your Lionhead by gently combing their coat at least once a week, being careful not to pull their fur. Bunnies are very sensitive and it’s important to make grooming a positive experience, not a painful one.

If your bunny struggles with grooming, use treats to make it a better experience for them!

In the spring, your bunny will be shedding its winter coat and will need to be brushed several times weekly.

Grooming Checklist

Grooming your rabbit is a fantastic time to give them a quick check-up to make sure all is normal.

  • Check their skin for any sores or pests.
  • Brush their coat thoroughly, removing any tangles or mats
  • Look in your bunny’s eyes to ensure they’re clear and free of discharge
  • Check your bunny’s ears
  • Brush the fur near your Lionhead’s rear and check for any mats or stuck poop
black lionhead rabbit sitting on woman's lap being groomed with brush
Black Lionhead Rabbit getting brushed

Can you Bathe a Lionhead Rabbit?

Lionhead rabbits should never be bathed! They are mostly neat, self-cleaning animals who don’t need help.

Sometimes, you may notice your bun has gotten extra messy—usually around their hind end. Maybe they have poop stuck in their long fur or need a wipe.

In this case, wipe your rabbit down with pet wipes or a damp cloth. Never submerge your bunny in water or get them thoroughly wet.

Bunnies’ fur takes a long time to dry, especially long-haired rabbits like Lionheads. They may have difficulty regulating their own body temperature while drying, especially in a cold environment, and this can lead to hypothermia.

Baths are also very stressful for Lionheads, and rabbits don’t handle stress well. They might go into shock or have a heart attack, both of which are deadly.

How to Trim Lionhead Rabbit Nails

Trim your Lionhead rabbit’s nails at least once a month, or contact a professional rabbit groomer or veterinarian to do it for you.

It’s best to train your Lionhead to accept nail trims right away, even if you adopt them as a baby. They will need their nails trimmed for the rest of their lives, so they need to get used to the procedure.

To trim your Lionhead Rabbit’s nails:

  • Collect a sharp pair of sharp nail trimmers, a towel, a helper if you need one, and your rabbit’s favorite treat.
  • Take a look at your rabbit’s feet and claws. Get them used to being touched, and familiarize yourself with the process as well. Look for the quick of the nail, which is pink and located near the base of the claw—never, ever cut into this. When starting out, it’s best to cut well below it, at the tip of the claw.
  • Wrap your bunny securely in the towel and lift them gently, supporting their middle and butt. If you have a helper, have them hold the bunny for you.
  • Gently remove one paw from the towel at a time.
  • Make quick, straight cuts at the tip of your bunny’s claws. Remember that you can always trim it shorter later, but cutting too short will cause your rabbit to bleed, feel pain, and be less receptive to nail trims in the future.

Lionhead Rabbit Hutch

elevated gray wooden indoor rabbit hutch with enclosed run and wheels
Enclosed wooden indoor rabbit hutch with wheels

Ideally, your Lionhead Rabbit will not be kept in a hutch or cage at all. Free-roaming indoors is the best for rabbits, even if they can only have one room to themselves.

For a small rabbit like this, that’s actually plenty of space!

At a minimum, your bunny should be spending most of their day outside of their cage or hutch. This obviously doesn’t work for everybody—and that’s why many people aren’t suited to keeping rabbits as pets.

They require time, dedication, and space just like any other pet. Although some people see them as low maintenance or “starter” pets, this is far from the case.

Keeping a rabbit in their hutch or cage day in and day out is like crating a dog for the same amount of time—it’s cruel and neglectful.

Bunnies are very social, and prefer to spend their time around family!

How big of a Hutch do Lionhead Rabbits Need?

A hutch should never be your Lionhead Rabbit’s home. They need much more space, exercise, and interaction than this can provide.

However, a Lionhead Rabbit hutch or Lionhead Rabbit cage can be used at night or as a safe space for your rabbit for short periods when they cannot free roam—like when a guest is over with their children and you’re worried about your bunny being hurt, for instance.

In this case, here’s what to look for:

  • A tall enclosure—your rabbit should be able to stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the top, and to hop around inside. Keep in mind that bunnies jump high!
  • Space to exercise—your rabbit should be able to hop many times in a row within the cage or hutch.
  • Comfort—cover any metal grid at the bottom with soft padding, and provide beds, hidey houses, and toys to stimulate your rabbit while you’re away. Cover slick surfaces with blankets or rugs so that your bun doesn’t slip.
  • Cage covers—you can use a cage cover, but never cover the cage completely. These could cause your bunny to suffocate or overheat due to lack of ventilation.
  • Food and water—provide your bunny with plenty of hay and fresh water at all times, both inside and outside of the hutch or cage.
  • Double the buns, double the space—if you have two Lionhead Rabbits, your enclosure should be twice as large to accommodate them both.
  • Exercise pens made for dogs are also great for containing buns while giving them more space!

How to Clean up After Your Lionhead Rabbit

One thing rabbit owners sometimes struggle with is keeping things clean, especially with a rabbit who free-roams inside.

Although it’s not super fun to clean up after your rabbit, it’s pretty easy!

Here’s a checklist to make sure everything is taken care of:

  • Daily: Scoop the litterbox, replenish the hay, and sweep the environment. If there are any leftover fruits or vegetables, empty the dish and replenish them during the next meal time.
  • Weekly: Clean the cage or hutch, vacuum, and wash your bunny’s food and water bowls.

How to Free Roam Your Lionhead Rabbit

full grown gray lionhead rabbit with long mane and upright ears free roaming in the grass
Gray Lionhead Rabbit free-roaming in the grass

Alongside mess, another concern for rabbit owners is safety! Of course, we have to rabbit-proof our homes before we allow a bunny to free-roam inside.

You can do this by:

  • Placing any toxic materials such as plants, food, or cleaning products out of reach.
  • Putting away anything your bunny shouldn’t chew, such as your clothes, shoes, or books.
  • Covering furniture and baseboards to prevent destructive chewing.
  • Covering cords so your bunny cannot chew them
  • Blocking access to underneath furniture unless you don’t mind your rabbit there, and can retrieve them if necessary.
  • Providing your bunny with a special space that includes their litterbox, food, water, and hay. Line this with rugs or a blanket so they can do zoomies without slipping!
  • Making sure your bunny cannot escape the room or home you’re free-roaming them in.

We don’t recommend bunnies free-roaming around cats or dogs. While this can work successfully if they’re raised together, bunnies are very sensitive prey animals.

Dog and cat saliva can cause infections that may kill your bunny. Even a small scratch while playing could lead to disaster.

If your bunny isn’t used to being around cats or dogs, this will likely be stressful for them because those animals are predators. Stress can kill a bunny and is no joke!

Instead, consider keeping the animals separate by designating a room to your bunny. You can allow them into the rest of the house while the cat or dog is in another room if you’d like!

Remember to never leave your Lionhead outside unattended.

How to Litter Train Your Lionhead Rabbit

Start by spaying or neutering your rabbit. This comes with several health and behavioral benefits, including easier litter training.

Next, remember that rabbits are naturally very clean animals. Like cats, litter training comes very naturally to them.

Start your bunny off in a small area (not a cage, but part of a room) with a litterbox in the corner. The litterbox should be large enough for your bunny to sit in entirely, and easy for them to climb into. A regular cat litterbox works just fine for most adult rabbits.

You can line it with newspaper or paper pellet litter. Don’t use clay cat litter or clumping litter, as this isn’t safe for bunnies.

Add a lot of hay to the litterbox as well! Though it may seem odd, they’ll love eating inside of it.

If you set the litterbox up and your bunny uses it, awesome! Reward them with praise and treats so that they keep up the good work.

Keep an eye on them and, if they begin to go outside the box, gently set them inside. Never yell at or punish your bunny for accidents, as this’ll only make them nervous and more prone to potty outside the litterbox.

Your bunny may decide to pee or poop in a different corner of their space. In this case, simply move the litterbox to that corner—it’ll be easier than fighting them.

Once your bunny is litter trained, you can open up their space more. If you free-roam them in a large space, such as a multi-story house, consider having multiple litterboxes to make it easier for them.

Clean the litterbox every single day, or your rabbit may begin to avoid it due to the mess.

Keep potty training as positive and easy for your Lionhead as possible and you’ll get great results!

However, you should always have realistic expectations—the occasional accident or pooping right outside of the box is normal.

A mat beneath the litterbox will help you to clean up easier.

indoor lionhead rabbit cage with litter pan and hay feeding area
Indoor rabbit cage with litter pan

Can Lionhead Rabbits Live Outside?

Lionhead Rabbits should never live outside.

If you’d like, your bunny can have supervised time outdoors in an enclosed space—but they shouldn’t live in an outdoor hutch.

This is because rabbits are sensitive prey animals, and their risk outdoors is too great.

There are many ways for rabbits to lose their life outdoors, even in a well-enclosed space, and they include:

  • Weather. Temperatures over 90 degrees or below freezing can cause heat stroke or hypothermia.
    Rain will get a rabbit too wet, and it takes their coats a long time to dry—this is especially true for fluffy Lionheads! Leaving your Lionhead out in the rain may result in hypothermia, especially if it’s cold outside.
  • Predators. Predators can be very difficult to keep away from rabbits. If you think there are no predators in your area, think again—even a stray cat or loose dog is a predator for bunnies.
    There are ways to keep them from hurting your rabbit, but there isn’t a way to reduce your rabbit’s stress from being around them. Even a dog jumping up on your rabbit’s hutch or a cat pacing nearby can cause your rabbit to have a heart attack or go into shock, which is deadly.
  • Less attention and socialization. Giving your rabbit attention throughout the day is so important, and much harder to do when they don’t live in your home. Your rabbit needs love, play, snuggles, and observation to catch health issues.
    Especially without another bunny around, Lionhead Rabbits will become lonely very easily when left outdoors.
    As prey animals, they also tend to hide their illnesses to avoid looking weak to predators. The problem with this is that it can make it hard to know when they’re sick!
    By observing our bunnies every day, we can catch these problems earlier. When we know how they act, differences in behavior are easier to detect.

Lionhead Rabbit Behavior and Training

Lionhead rabbits tend to be calm, smart, and gentle. They’re good with children and easy to train.

However, they are also sensitive animals. Rabbit bones break easily, including their spines, so they must be handled gently.

Rough treatment can also lead to aggression from the rabbit, and we never want our rabbits to learn to bite people!

As prey animals, Lionhead rabbits are also quite skittish—especially if you don’t know how to bond with them appropriately.

Bonding with Your Lionhead Rabbit

The most important aspect of bonding with your rabbit is to remember that they aren’t a cat or dog! These are prey animals who interact much differently than predator species.

When you’re standing above your Lionhead rabbit and reach down to pet them, it resembles a hawk scooping them up! This makes them nervous.

Instead, get down to your rabbit’s level by sitting or even laying down on the floor. Set a treat nearby, such as fresh fruit, and let them come to you.

This allows your rabbit to choose the pace at which you interact. It will also give your bunny more confidence around you.

Once your rabbit has accepted a few treats, you can try to pet them. Bunnies like to be pet gently on their heads, ears, and upper backs.

Interact this way with your rabbit multiple times a day, and they will gradually get used to having you around.

They’ll also learn to associate you with good things like pets and yummy treats!

Other ways to bond with your rabbit are to brush and cuddle them—but don’t rush these steps! Wait until your Lionhead Rabbit is ready.

How to Handle Lionhead Rabbits

woman holding a lionhead rabbit supporting it's front and back ends against her body
It’s important to pick up and hold your Lionhead bunny safely

It’s very important that you support your Lionhead Rabbit while handling them. They are delicate animals whose bones break easily.

Your rabbit can hurt themselves struggling to get away from you, and you can hurt them if you handle them too roughly or don’t support their entire bodies.

Your veterinarian can teach you how to pick up your bunny if you’re unsure.

It’s best to begin by getting down to your Lionhead’s level and petting them gently. Then, sweep your arm underneath them and pick them up, keeping them low to the ground.

Hold them firmly in your hands, with one hand at their mid-section and the other supporting their bum and back feet.

Face your bunny toward you and rest them against your chest to give their feet even more support.

Don’t lift your bunny high above the ground until you know how to support them adequately, and that they won’t struggle away from you. A fall can severely hurt them!

Lionhead Rabbit Veterinary Care

Bring your Lionhead Rabbit to the veterinarian at least once a year while they’re young, and once every six months as a senior.

This will allow your veterinarian to get a good baseline for their health and catch any health problems early on.

In addition to their yearly check-up, Lionhead rabbits also need parasite prevention medication if they ever go outside. If they don’t go out, you don’t need to worry about this.

Only use medications prescribed by your veterinarian for your bunny, not store-bought medication, cat, or dog medication.

Illnesses to watch for in Lionhead Rabbits include arthritis, rabbit snuffles, and heart problems.

The best way to keep your Lionhead Rabbit healthy is to provide them with a well-balanced diet and appropriate housing.

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