How to Care for a Havana Rabbit

Characteristics, Housing, Diet, and Other Information

Black Havana rabbit lying on carpet.
Havana rabbits can come in five different colors including black.

By Mjm91 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17966053

Once known as the "fire-eye from Ingen" and often referred to as the mink of the rabbit world, the Havana rabbit breed is over 100 years old. They got their name from the dark color of a Havana cigar but can come in several colors besides rich dark chocolate. Their incredibly soft fur makes them a popular pet but like other rabbits, Havanas need the right type of care in order to thrive.

Species Overview

Common Name(s): Havana rabbit

Scientific Name: Oryctolagus Cuniculus

Adult Size: 4.5-6.5 lbs.

Lifespan: 5-8 years but some can live to be up to 12 years of age

Havana Rabbit Behavior and Temperament

Havana rabbits may be popular because of their soft fur, but like other rabbits, they are also loved for their individual personalities and antics. Havanas are not aggressive, love to play and run around, and can make great family pets. They can be very affectionate and friendly and are sometimes even said to be one of the calmest rabbit breeds.

Size Information

Havana rabbits are considered to be a small- to medium-sized rabbit. Some people call them dwarf or miniature rabbits but they are a little larger than a dwarf. They are compact as opposed to long-bodied and usually weigh around 5 pounds fully grown. Their bodies are described as being short and round.

Housing

You have a lot of options when it comes to housing your Havana rabbit. Outdoor rabbit hutches can be built or purchased but should be very secure to ensure your little bunny can't escape and predators can't break in. Make sure the bottom of outdoor hutches is solid and not wire-based, which can lead to feet problems. Indoor enclosures can also be purchased but since rabbits need a lot of space to run around, it is recommended to have at a cage that is at least 3 ft x 3 ft in addition to a rabbit-proofed play area in your home.

Specific Substrate Needs

If you choose to use a substrate in your Havana rabbit's cage, avoid cedar and pine shavings. These wood shavings can be aromatic and also contain oils that can cause respiratory and skin issues for your rabbit. Aspen shavings or recycled paper materials are better options if you want to give your bunny some bedding to sleep in or walk on. These same substrates can also be placed in your rabbit's litter box or you can use hay, paper-based beddings, or as a last option, unscented, dust-free cat litter.

What Do Havana Rabbits Eat & Drink?

Havana rabbits need a variety of veggies and hay in their diet in addition to fresh water. About 1/4 cup of rabbit pellets (without seeds or food coloring) should be offered each day but your rabbit should primarily eat grass hays and dark, leafy green vegetables. Less than 5 percent of their diet can consist of treats like sugar-free cereals, crackers, fruits, and vegetables that aren't green. Both a water bottle and bowl of water should be available at all times to encourage your rabbit to drink adequate water.

Common Health Problems

Havana rabbits are usually pretty healthy but any pet rabbit is prone to developing some of the following health issues:

  • Dental issues
  • Ear mites and infections
  • Skin mites and infections
  • Eye problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Ileus
  • Reproductive organ issues

All of these health problems and many others will require the help of a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care.

Training Your Havana Rabbit

Havana rabbits are great rabbits to train to play fetch, respond to their name, use a litter box, and more!

Leash Training 

If you want to keep your rabbit close to you while still giving them some exercise outside, a harness and leash may be a good option. Make sure you choose a harness that is specifically designed for a compact rabbit's body and coax them to walk on the leash using treats until they get used to it.

Potty Training 

Litter box training your Havana rabbit isn't very difficult and can help you keep your home clean. It will also encourage you to let your rabbit roam around the house more if you know you step in a surprise. Since rabbits like to eat and poop at the same time, putting your rabbit's hay hopper in a place where they have to sit in the litter box to eat it is one of the easiest things you can do to start the potty training process.

Exercise

Exercise is vital to your Havana rabbit's mental and physical health. It needs ample space to run and play every day so that can forage for food, be mentally stimulated, find things to chew on, maintain muscle mass, and keep its digestive tract moving. Gastrointestinal motility can decrease or stop due to stress as well as a lack of physical mobility so if you don't give your Havana rabbit exercise, it is likely to develop serious health issues.

Grooming 

The mink-like fur of a Havana rabbit is very easy to maintain, especially since rabbits groom themselves much like cats. Despite this, nail trims and occasional other grooming needs may arise.

Shedding

Havana rabbits shed on a regular basis but major molts or sheds occur twice a year in the spring and fall. During these major sheds, more fur will be lost by your rabbit than normal, but Havana rabbit hair is very fine and short.

Brushing

You shouldn't have to brush your Havana rabbit on a regular basis but it definitely doesn't hurt to use a soft brush if you want to have a bonding moment with your bunny. If your rabbit develops matting on their feet or hind ends, there is most likely an issue with the environment or a medical concern that should be addressed.

Baths

Since Havana rabbits will keep themselves clean on their own, unless your rabbit runs through a mess, is sick and gets a dirty hind end, or has a messy meal, you shouldn't have to bathe them. If a bath is needed though, make sure you use warm, not hot, water and don't fully immerse or get the rabbit's whole body wet—only bathe the areas that need it as they can be prone to getting cold.

Upkeep Costs

Caring for a Havana rabbit may cost more than you expect. Due to daily fresh vegetables, hay, and pellets, expect to spend around $50 a month on food and another $10-$20 on toys and bedding for your rabbit. Additionally, you'll want to budget for routine and emergency vet visits for when your rabbit requires medical attention.

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Havana Rabbit as a Pet

Rabbits require a lot more space and attention than many people think, but they are also very personable pets. Havana rabbits are easy to handle and bond with but they do require fresh vegetables to eat each day and will need their litter box cleaned regularly.

Similar Pets to the Havana Rabbit

If you’re interested in pet rabbits, you may also like these small mammals:

Otherwise, check out other types of rabbits that can be your new pet!

Purchasing or Adopting Your Havana Rabbit

While Havana rabbits are well-loved in the rabbit community, they aren't typically a breed you'll find in your local pet store. Because of this, you'll likely need to find a breeder online or at a rabbit show but on occasion, you may see a Havana rabbit in a rabbit rescue. If you are looking to rescue a rabbit, contact your local House Rabbit Society chapter for suggestions on local rabbit rescues. Depending on whether or not the rabbit is show quality, expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $100 for one.

Reproduction/Breeding

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. Most exotic animal veterinarians will recommend spaying female rabbits (regardless of having a male or not) as it can prolong their life and keep them free of reproductive problems. Alternatively, you can get two females. 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.

FAQ Block

FAQ
  • Do Havana rabbits make a good pet for kids?

    Yes! Havana rabbits are a good size for kids and are usually very calm. They are also very cuddly and love to munch on vegetables that kids can feed to them.

  • Do Havana rabbits like to be held?

    Yes! Havana rabbits are usually pretty relaxed and known to be very personable. These qualities usually result in them enjoying being held and pet.

  • How much does it cost to buy a Havana rabbit?

    You can expect to spend about $20-$40 for a Havana rabbit. If you are looking for one that is show quality or a rare color, it may cost more.