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Holland Lops, Adorable Shedding Machines

Teighlor

Arkansas, United States

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As a child, I'd always had rabbits, but they were outside in hutches that POW's wouldn't envy and were more yard ornamentation than pets. In the mid-1990s rabbit ownership hadn't reached any notable popularity level. My rabbits were just rabbits until I got some Dwarf bunnies around the age of ten to twelve. One (though we provided fans) died of heatstroke; several were killed when dogs got into our backyard and tore open their cages. Outside is where rabbits originated, but it's no place to keep them if having a pet if your intention. If you are going to keep them outside make sure your yard is secure from stray/wild animals and make sure they're a hardier breed than a Holland if you live in a hot area (they do well in cold not heat). Always provide fresh water daily and a place where they can get away from the elements.

After having done some research in my adulthood, I rediscovered rabbits and began to understand what wonderful pets they are. Rabbits were something I wanted again in my life and this time I'd do it right. When I decided to get a rabbit I knew exactly what breed I wanted, a Holland Lop. No rabbit is as cute as a Holland, and they're so good-natured. Though not ideal for Arkansas heat, it makes the perfect indoor pet - or so I thought.

First I purchased a lovely rabbit cage. It was a kind of standard large wire cage, but let me insert here the importance of a cage to your rabbit. It's where it will spend most of its time, so the two most important things are:

1. Space 2. Cleanability Plastic cages are not only hard to clean, but they're also flimsy and will never stand the test of time. Rabbits love to jump and climb ramps, but their backs are fragile, to prevent falls be conscientious of the height of your ramp.

When I sought out my breeder, she was knowledgeable about the breed and general rabbit health. A reputable breeder is important! Just as with puppies and kittens you never want to purchase from a backyard breeder who breeds for profitable gain, and not for the betterment of the breed. If their focus isn't producing healthy and even-tempered rabbits, then go elsewhere. It was only many months afterward that I learned of local rabbit rescues, and I sincerely encourage that you look at these places first. You'll find a surprising variety of breeds and most come spayed or neutered already.

Neutering would have saved me a lot of trouble! I haven't got experience with spaying females, but let me tell you something you may not realize about your bouncing baby bunny. Males spray! Their urine also has a distinctive odor, and some people (sadly including myself) are allergic to rabbit urine. I had to give Charlie Chaplin back to the breeder a little over a year of having him because of this. You can potty train them, but it's much easier with a neutered male.

Potty training will not prevent poo on the floor. Though your rabbit will make an effort to defecate in the same place (the litterbox) they will still leave tiny surprises around the house. Their species, like many herbivores, lack complete control/awareness of when they go #2. I highly recommend purchasing training litter from Petsmart as it contains a scent that is attractive to rabbits.

While successful at containing the urine to the cage area, due to my Chap Chap being an intact male, his enclosure got completely caked in calcium deposits from his spraying urine on the walls, which made cleaning more difficult. And if you don't want your house to smell like an ammonia filled barn, you're going to be cleaning that litter box daily and that cage 1-2 times weekly.

Another thing I was unprepared for was the shedding! I already had a double coated dog (see my review of Siberian Huskies) and a long haired cat, but when summer rolled around I got a shock! At this time I had two Hollands (R.I.P Sunshine Kilter), and tufts of hair were everywhere floating in the house and disturbing my already sensitive allergies (I'm also allergic to alfalfa which bunnies love be careful handling their food if you have severe pollen-induced allergies).

Having two unneutered rabbits of the same sex resulted in many of the same problems one would have with dogs. For one they fought when puberty first set in, though I was able to reunite them once the air cleared. Another problem was humping. The males would exhaust themselves from mounting one another that they even began to lose weight! That calmed down as well, but never stopped entirely, and I have no doubts that this stress added to Kilter passing away (even though he was the ardent aggressor). My suggestion is that if you're going to have two rabbits have them fixed because males will harass both intact/spayed females as well as other males if unaltered.

My final thoughts on the Holland breed are that, had it been a different time and a different place in my life where I didn't have so many animals already, having Charlie Chaplin would have worked. I'd let him out more, and he'd have gotten more attention and training. Rabbits (esp. Hollands) make lovely affectionate buddies, and I highly recommend the breed, but consider your lifestyle first. Do you have pets? Would they be aggressive toward your rabbits? Then reconsider. A life confined to a cage is no life for any animal.