Easily found at many pet stores and popular for their classic two-toned patterns, Dutch rabbits can make wonderful pets. Like other rabbits, they do require some space to play and exercise as well as fresh green vegetables on a daily basis, but if you are looking for an interactive small pet with a personality, Dutch rabbits are worth the work. Read on to learn more about these rabbits.
Common Name: Dutch rabbit, Hollander, Brabander
Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Adult Size: 3.5-5.5 lbs full grown
Lifespan: 5-10 years but can live longer
Dutch Rabbit Behavior and Temperament
A Dutch rabbit can make a great pet for someone looking for an alternative to a cat or guinea pig, but they are definitely more work than a typical caged pet. Rabbits are easygoing animals and are known to be playful, calm, and smart. Dutch rabbits are not aggressive creatures and are more likely to run away than to try and nip if they are scared or threatened. That means they can make great pets for adults and children alike. Like other rabbits, they are most active at dawn and dusk but can often be found lounging around and napping during the day and evening.
An adult Dutch rabbit usually weighs about 4.5 pounds but can vary in weight from 3.5 to 5.5 pounds. They are considered to be a small- to medium-sized rabbit and should not be confused with the smaller Netherland dwarf rabbit.
All rabbits, including Dutch rabbits, need a lot of space to run and play, but when they aren't hopping around, they also need a secure place to sleep. If your adult Dutch rabbit is an indoor rabbit, a minimum cage size of 3 feet by 3 feet should be provided. Store-bought cages are available, but many people create their own rabbit enclosures using exercise pens, dog crates, and other items. Outdoor rabbit hutches can also be bought or made but should be especially secure to prevent your rabbit from escaping or being injured or killed by an outside predator.
Specific Substrate Needs
If you choose to use a bedding in your Dutch rabbit's house, avoid cedar and pine shavings. These can be aromatic and contain oils that cause respiratory and skin irritation. Opt instead for Aspen shavings, timothy hay, or recycled paper materials if you want to provide your bunny with some soft bedding to sleep in. Litter boxes can also contain these substrates or you can use hay or unscented, dust-free cat litter.
What Do Dutch Rabbits Eat and Drink?
Like other rabbits, Dutch rabbits need to eat a variety of vegetables and hay to stay healthy. Depending on the weight of your bunny, 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of rabbit pellets (without seeds or colored pieces) can be provided, but the majority of their meals should be composed of grass hays and dark, leafy green vegetables. You can also give them occasional treats of sugar-free cereals, crackers, fruits, and vegetables that aren't green. Remember though, that if your rabbit's diet isn't appropriate, they're more likely to develop ileus.
Common Health Problems
Dutch rabbits can unfortunately develop a variety of health problems. Some of the most common issues seen in rabbits include:
- Dental issues
- Ear mites and infections
- Skin mites and infections
- Eye problems
- Respiratory issues
- Ileus (gastrointestinal stasis)
- Reproductive organ issues
All of these health problems and many others will require the help of a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care.
Training Your Dutch Rabbit
Dutch rabbits are very smart and can be trained to do simple tricks, come when called, and use a litter box. Some people even teach them to walk on a rabbit harness and leash or fetch toys.
If you want to train your rabbit to walk on a leash, be sure to attach the lead to a harness that is designed for your size of rabbit. Verbal coaxing, as well as treats, can help encourage your rabbit to walk towards you while getting used to being attached to a leash.
With a little patience and consistency, you can train your Dutch rabbit to use a litter box. This will make you more likely to let your rabbit roam around in a rabbit-proofed environment because you won't have to worry about cleaning up any accidents. Many rabbit owners start this potty training by hanging their rabbit's hay above the litter box so that they naturally defecate in the box as they are eating.
Exercise is vital to your Dutch rabbit's mental and physical health. Your rabbit needs space to run and play so that it can be mentally stimulated through foraging for food, find things to chew on, maintain muscle mass, and keep the digestive tract moving. Gastrointestinal motility can decrease or stop because of stress and a lack of physical mobility, so it is very important to give your rabbit exercise on a daily basis.
Dutch rabbits have short hair so they are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming.
Rabbits shed on a regular basis, but major molts or sheds occur twice a year in the spring and fall. During these major sheds, your Dutch rabbit will lose more fur than normal.
Unless your rabbit gets something stuck in its hair or is unable to normally groom itself due to obesity, arthritis, or another medical concern, brushing is usually not necessary or recommended.
Rabbits are typically very clean animals so bathing them may not be necessary, but if they get messy, a quick cleaning of the soiled area is a good idea. Don't submerge your rabbit in water for baths though, only clean the areas needed. Use dish soap and lukewarm water while carefully cleaning them then towel dry them thoroughly.
Be extra careful with their delicate ears and be sure to avoid spraying water into them. Dutch rabbits can easily get cold during bathes and develop ileus from stress, so bath time should not be done unless necessary.
Dutch rabbits may cost more than you expect to care for. This is due to needing to provide fresh vegetables, hay, and pellets on a daily basis. Expect to spend around $50 a month just for food and another $10-$20 on toys and bedding. Additionally, you'll want to budget for routine and emergency vet visits for when your rabbit requires medical attention.
Pros & Cons of Keeping a Dutch Rabbit as a Pet
Rabbits require a lot more space and attention than many people think, but they're also very personable pets. Dutch rabbits have unique personalities and are very calm animals. They do however require fresh vegetables to eat each day and can live to be over 10 years of age, so they are more of a longterm commitment than some other small pets.
Similar Pets to the Dutch Rabbit
If you’re interested in pet Dutch rabbits, check out:
Otherwise, check out other types of rabbits that can be your new pet!
Purchasing or Adopting Your Dutch Rabbit
If you are looking to rescue a Dutch rabbit, you can contact your local House Rabbit Society chapter to see if they have recommendations for rabbit rescues or contact local rabbit rescues in your area directly. Purchasing a Dutch rabbit can be as simply as finding one in a local pet store, finding a local breeder on the American Dutch Rabbit Club website, or attending a rabbit show, expo, or fair. Expect to spend at least $25 for a Dutch rabbit, with show rabbits costing closer to $100.
If you decide to get more than one rabbit and they are of opposite sexes, you'll want to get your female spayed to prevent unwanted litters. Spaying can also help to extend the lifespan of your rabbit though since they are prone to reproductive organ cancers. Alternatively, you can get two females if you want two rabbits but if you want to get two males, you'll need to get them neutered if you want to keep them from fighting with each other.
Does a Dutch rabbit make a good pet for kids?
Yes! Dutch rabbits are calm pets that are also sturdy enough to be handled and played with.
How much does it cost to buy a Dutch rabbit?
If you aren't looking for a show rabbit, expect to spend about $25-30 for one. This doesn't include the enclosure and other supplies you'll need to care for them.
Is a Dutch rabbit hard to take care of?
No, they are not hard to care for but they do require some time. Daily fresh veggies, play time, and spot cleaning is needed.
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