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Information on the Mini Lop Rabbit breed

Miniature Lop rabbits are a small breed of rabbit, and have an ideal weight of 1.5-1.6Kgs. Ideally their body should be short, broad and well muscled. Mini Lops come in a wide variety of different colours.

Dwarf lops and Mini lops are relatively new rabbit breeds and have only been available in Australia since 1998. The Dwarf lops and Mini lops in Australia today have been bred from rabbits which originated in America and England and arrived via breeders in New Zealand. They have been developed from the Lop which is one of the oldest rabbit varieties. The term "Lop" stems from the characteristic ears of this rabbit which are extremely long and wide and hang either side of the head, touching the ground. The Dwarf lop was the first of the two varieties to be developed. This was achieved by introducing the dwarf gene to the French Lop rabbit. The Dwarf lops were then further dwarfed to produce the Mini lop.

Most rabbits get along fine with other pets, such as guinea pigs, if introduced properly. Mini lops are no different. They were developed with the intention of creating a rabbit which was easy to handle and hardy enough to withstand cuddling from children.

Never lift a rabbit by the ears. Instead, place one hand under its front legs and the other hand under the bottom and lift holding it firmly and supporting its body. If held firmly the rabbit should feel secure and not wriggle. Never allow children to grab the rabbit, run with it or rough it up.

Health and lifespan
Most problems relate to inadequate diet. Ear mites are common. Mosquitoes and rabbit fleas can carry myxomatosis, a fatal disease which cannot be vaccinated against in Australia. Screen your hutches with mosquito proof netting and use flea powder if exposed to wild rabbits. Rabbits can be vaccinated against the Calicivirus (Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease). It is recommended that they are vaccinated at 12 weeks of age and given yearly boosters to protect them from the disease.

Rabbits are susceptible to extremes of heat or cold, especially if kept permanently outdoors. 'Snuffles' is the term given to a common infectious respiratory disease (Pasteurella multocida) seen in rabbits which are kept in draughty or poorly ventilated conditions. Other diseases to look out for include Coccidiosis (a protozoan parasite in the liver or intestine)and Enteritis (a potentially fatal condition caused by sudden changes in diet).

Rabbits can also suffer from Malocclusion, a condition of the teeth that can either be hereditary or developed later on. Some rabbits are born with bad teeth; either an underbite, an overbite, or other malformation. These rabbits need frequent dental care, and depending upon the problem, may never have a normal life. Other rabbits are born with normal teeth, but the do not develop normally. Occasionally, malocclusion can be caused by trauma, for example, being bitten on the head by a dog, or falling and breaking a tooth. But most frequently, malocclusions are the result of too little fiber in the diet.

Whatever the initiating cause, tooth problems in rabbits usually present in one of the following manners:
1. Malocclusion and overgrowth of incisors
2. Sharp points on the inside edge of the lower cheek teeth, or outer edge of the upper cheek teeth. These points can injure the tongue, occasionally bad enough to cut the tongue in half! Upper cheek teeth points often cut the inside of the cheek, eventually causing an abscess.
3. Maloccluded teeth do not get worn down properly and they continue to grow. Unable to grow into the mouth and be worn down, the tooth root becomes elongated and grows deeper into the upper and lower jaw bones, causing a bone abscess.
4. The tooth roots of the upper teeth can press against the tear ducts and contribute to eye discharge.

Signs You May See

Decreased appetite, weight loss.
Saliva or food build-up under chin, near lips, on the inside of the front legs
Reluctance to eat hard food
Stinky Breath
Lump on the outer cheek, under the eye
Lump under lower jaws (lumps start small, but can get very large)
Discharge from cheek or chin/lower jaw area
Incisors that are uneven (gently lift upper lip to check incisors). If uneven incisors are present, there is a very good chance that the cheek teeth are abnormal as well.

What Can Be Done If Your Bunny Has Malocclusion

X-rays are frequently needed to assess the extent of dental disease. Because of how rabbit mouths are formed, it is difficult to completely examine the entire mouth unless a rabbit is under anesthesia. Also, most malocclusions cannot be treated in an awake rabbit, therefore anesthesia is required. Pain control is another important part of treating malocclusions.

Under anesthesia, the veterinarian will trim and file off sharp points and abnormal tooth edges. If an infection or abscess is present, treatment is determined by location and severity. Sometimes oral antibiotics and wound flushing are sufficient, but frequently surgical treatment is indicated. Rabbit pus is very thick and the ideal treatment for rabbit abscesses is complete surgical removal. But some abscesses are too large and in too small of an area for complete removal, or involve extensive bone infection. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the proper treatment based upon how things look upon examination.

Dental problems and abscesses are definitely diseases that should be treated by a veter inarian who is experienced with rabbits. The key thing to remember is that your bunny will never be 100% normal, and will need rechecks and tooth trims for the rest of his/her life. Non-treatment of malocclusions only allows worsening of the condition, and further pain for your bunny.

Make sure the breeder you choose to purchase your new bunny from checks their teeth for you.

Many people have asked me if rabbits can be housed as inside pets. The good news is yes they certainly can! In many ways, housing a bunny inside is safer than having one outside. There is less chance of stray cats, dogs or foxes attacking your bunny if it is housed inside and it also has much less of a chance of contracting Myxo or Calici (I still recommend vaccinating for calici even if your bunny is an inside pet). As long as you give your rabbit adequate time outside it's hutch for exercise, it does not need a huge hutch to live in. There are many different hutch designs available, for inside rabbits I use the ones with a plastic bottom and a wire cage over the top but I make sure I give my bunny at least an hour out for a run a day.

Rabbits are also happy living outside. Make sure the hutch you buy gives your rabbit shelter from the rain, cold and extreme heat, make sure it can also be mosquito proofed. Try not to use a wire bottom on your hutches if you can (although if you bunny likes to dig out, this may be unavoidable) as your bunny could get hock sores. If you do have a wire bottom, make sure there is an area that your bunny can sit that is not on wire, a piece of carpet or a towel is often a good thing to use.

All rabbits should have an area in which to exercise outside their hutch. They love coming into the house for a play and being easily litter trained makes them ideal for both an indoor and outdoor pet. The lop is not a very active rabbit and does not require a great deal of exercise but care must be taken that it is not overfed. Exercise will also assist rabbits to wear down their nails and to maintain body tone.

Rabbit mixes are available at pet and produce stores and should be given daily. Alternatively, commercial rabbit pellets can used but only half to three quarters of a cup of pellets should be given once a day only as unlimited access to pellets can lead to obesity. It is essential that fresh water is always available. Vegetables and herbs such as parsley, spinach, corn on the cob, broccoli, lettuce mix and carrots can be offered weekly. If possible, move the hutch around the lawn to provide fresh grass but avoid any grass which has been sprayed with herbicides. Hay should also be offered and can be used as bedding. I mix my own rabbit food, I use a combination of lucerne chaff, all purpose mix, sunflower seeds and pellets. A sample of this is given with each rabbit that is purchased to help its transition to its new family.

Mini lops dont need much grooming, just a brush through the coat once a week. As they grow, they will gradually lose their baby fur and acquire an adult coat. It may be necessary to groom them with a wire brush to remove patches of fur when they molt. It is important to remove molting hair as Mini lops can die if they ingest too much hair.

Ideal Owner
Mini lops are a good size for children and have a better temperament than the dwarf rabbit making them the ideal family pet. Children however should never have the sole responsibility of caring for their mini lop, parents should always make sure the rabbit is safe and has access to food, water and shelter.

Buck verses Doe for a pet
When purchasing a mini lop for the first time, many are unsure which sex would suit them best. First you need to decide if you are going to desex your bunny. If you decide you do not wish to desex but want a family pet that is affectionate with your children, I highly recommend a buck. Bucks, from experience, are much more affectionate and loving than the does if the rabbits are not desexed. If you decide you will be desexing your new family member, it won't matter if you have a male or female as the desexing should settle the hormones that cause the females to become territorial when they are ready to be mated. Desexed females can be just as affectionate as a male. If you are wanting your pet inside, I recommend desexing your bunny as both the does and bucks to tend to spray when they reach maturity and are marking their territory.

One or Two?
Whilst rabbits tend to be social creatures, they are also hard to house together unless you are going to desex them. Two males will fight as they mature unless desexed. Two females will start fighting when their hormones kick in and they become territorial unless you desex them. One male, one female equals babies unless you desex your bunnies. Personally, I recommend just getting the one rabbit, if you put enough time into your bunny, it won't lack for anything. They can be very affectionate and make for wonderful pets. I do still recommend you desex your pet bunny.

You may wonder if it is worth while to desex your pet rabbit. The short answer is yes. Desexing your bunny will not only help prevent certain cancers but it will also help with maintaining hormone levels which can affect the friendliness of your bunny. If done early enough, it can also prevent your bunny from spraying. Rabbits can be desexed from about 4 months but it is always best to check with your vet to confirm the appropriate age.

Should I breed?
Breeding rabbits is hard work and I don't recommend it unless you are very serious about it. The saying 'breed like rabbits' rarely applies when you actually try to breed something, even rabbits. There are always additional costs involved that you often don't think if to begin with, for example a kit gets sick in your litter and you need to take it to the vet, consultation plus medication will set you back $100 alone, let alone if it spreads to the others in the litter. There is no profit in breeding bunnies if you are doing it properly, any money you do make goes back into maintaining your rabbitry.

If you are serious about breeding, I suggest doing a lot of research on the breed you intent to start with, rabbitry designs and hutch designs. Join a rabbit club and go along to some rabbit shows and talk to breeders before buying any of your founding stock, it will save a lot of heartache in the end. Breeding and Showing can be very rewarding and you can form some great friendships with other breeders, it is also family friendly with child handler classes held at each of the shows.

Be prepared to start at the bottom. Established breeders are very unlikely to sell new breeders their best stock when they are starting out, they may give you something to work with until you have proven yourself in the fancy. It's all trial and error and a lot of learning when starting out in breeding and showing, breeders generally do not want to sell their top rabbits to inexperienced breeders in case they are lost or petted out never to be seen again.

Safe Fruits and Vegetables

alfalfa,radish and clover sprouts
beet greens*
bok choy
brussels sprouts
carrots and tops*
collard greens
dandelion greens (pesticide free!)
green peppers
mustard greens
pea pods (a.k.a. chinese pea pods)*
peppermint leaves
radish tops
raspberry leaves
romaine lettuce (NO iceberg or light-colored leaves!)
turnip greens
wheat grass

FRUIT (NO seeds or pits)
apple (no seeds)
pineapple (beneficial enzymes)
papaya (beneficial enzymes)

Sugary fruits such as bananas and grapes should be fed only as occasional treats as they can become addictive.


*Good source of vitamin A, feed at least one daily

**high in either oxalates or goitrogens, use sparingly