Helpful Tips & Facts
Now that you either have realized you want a bunny of your own or are already the proud owner of a new little fluff ball, you want to provide them the best care possible. But how does one find the right information? Is there a trusty book that can be purchased? A great website out there? There are some good books and websites available, but I found that there doesn't seem to be just one singular book or website that offers all the information you need or want. That is why I have compiled this list of general information to help you start on your journey. At the bottom of this page, I will provide my list of recommended books and websites for you to research and discover.
The best thing to feed Holland Lops on a daily basis is HAY! But it cannot just be any hay. Timothy and Orchard Grass are the two most highly recommended types of hay for Holland Lops, Mini Lops and Netherland Dwarfs. NEVER feed Alfalfa to these breeds!
This is a small breed and therefore, they cannot handle a high protein diet. However, they do need a high fiber diet! When buying grain, you must look at the ingredients and make sure the protein is between 15-16% and the fiber content is AT LEAST 18%. By making sure they always have some hay and follow this diet plan, this will allow your bunny's digestive track to keep moving, which is necessary to ensure their health. At our rabbitry we feed our rabbits both Timothy and Orchard Grass, and use Purina Fibre 3 grain.
Of course, sometimes there is too much of a good thing. So knowing the appropriate amount of grain to give your new bunny is equally critical for their health. Under 4.5 months of age, I provide unlimited hay and grain. During those last few weeks before they turn 5 months, I start tapering off on how much grain I provide, so by the time they hit 5 months of age, they will be down to 1/4 cup of grain per day, with unlimited hay.
Last, but not least, is WATER. Always, always, always make sure your bunny has fresh water available!
I'm sure you've heard that rabbits LOVE treats. I'm not going to lie, this is 100% true! The question is not whether they do or do not like treats. The far more important question is what is an ACCEPTABLE treat to provide to your rabbit? Here is a quick run down of what is an acceptable treat for your bunny if they are around 6 months or older.
Apples, Artichokes, Asparagus, Bananas (no skin), Basil, Beet Greens, Blackberry Leaves, Carrots and Carrot Tops, Cauliflower, Celery, Cheerios (small amount), Clover, Coriander (Cilantro), Dandelion Greens and Flowers, Eggplant, Kale, Mint, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Peaches, Peppermint Leaves, Peppers (sweet), Pineapple, Plums, Pumpkin and Pumpkin Leaves, Radishes and Radish Leaves, Spinach, Strawberries and Strawberry Leaves, Summer Squash, Zucchini
Now there are other treats that rabbits LOVE that they can start enjoying much earlier on in their life, as kits (young babies). Here is a list of acceptable treats that your bunny can love at any age!
Apple Branches, Willow Branches, Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (just a small amount), Cardboard (I highly recommend empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls), Grass, Oats (small amount), Pine Cones (not fir cones - - Yes, there is a difference), Plain Shredded Wheat
I think it's safe to say that there are many treats available for you to give your bunny that they will simply love! However, it is important to be aware that there are some things that are big NO NO's for your rabbit. Being aware of those NO NO's, shown below, will help ensure your Holland Lop stays happy and healthy.
Alfalfa Hay, Apple Seeds, Bagged Baby Carrots, Banana Peels, Broccoli, Cabbage, Candy of Any Kind, Carpet, Cherries and Cherry Leaves, Citrus Peels, Corn, Lettuce (keep in mind Spinach is NOT lettuce), Nuts, Pear Seeds, and definitely they should NEVER have any of the acceptable foods if they have been treated with Pesticides!
THE SCOOP ON POOP
You can learn quite a lot from just being aware of your bunny's poop. As nasty as it may sound to some people, poop provides a lot of valuable information on the health of your pet rabbit.
Cecotropes: "Night Droppings: It's important to realize that rabbits have two different types of droppings. The first is fecal pellets, which are the typical round, dry ones that most people will see in the their rabbit's hutch and/or litter box. The second type of are called cecotropes. These are very different and are not actually feces, but nutrient packed droppings that your bunny will eat. Yes, that's correct...your rabbit loves them! But more importantly NEEDS them to keep a healthy digestive tract. Sometimes you may hear people refer to cecotropes as "night droppings." However, that does not necessarily mean your rabbit will only produce them at night. Actually they can produce them anytime of day, though they are polite enough that you will rarely catch them in the act of actually ingesting these tasty treats. These necessary droppings are produced in the cecum, located at the junction between the small and large intestines. It is there that a large quantity of natural bacteria and fungi exist, providing the rabbit critical nutrients. Without this, most rabbits would suffer from malnutrition and die. So, if you happen to see some strange looking poop in your rabbits hutch, that looks shiny, brown and rather resembles a tight cluster of grapes, you have come across one of your rabbit's favorite treats, NIGHT POOP!
"String of Pearls" Poop: Night droppings aren't the only poop that provides a lot of insight into the inner workings of your bunny. Fecal pellets also can divulge some key secrets about what is going on inside your rabbit. There might be occasion that you catch a glance of your rabbit's typical round, dry poop, hanging rather oddly at the bottom of their hutch. Upon closer inspection you see what looks like a "string of pearls" made of rabbit droppings. No, your bunny has not developed crafting skills and they are definitely not playing "dress-up." This type of poop is an indication that they have ingested too much fur. Rabbits are extremely clean animals. Therefore they spend a lot of time grooming themselves. Unlike cats, who are able to cough up their hairballs, rabbits are unable to vomit. This poses a problem since they do develop hairballs and we start to witness this when their fecal droppings are getting strung together by fur.
How can you treat "string of pearl" poop? The easiest way to resolve this problem is providing your Holland a small chunk of fresh pineapple! Fresh, does not mean, freshly opening a can of diced pineapples. Canned pineapples have been processed in such a way that many of the critical enzymes in the fruit are stripped away. It is these natural enzymes that quickly break down the hairballs that are forming in your bunny's digestive tract. You can easily find freshly cut and packed pineapple in the fresh fruit section of your grocery store. Simply give your bunny a hunk and they will thank you for it. Not only will they love the treat, but you will have helped to ensure they don't develop a blockage, which can ultimately kill them if left untreated.
Diarrhea - Serious Stuff: Of course, one of the scariest types of poop your rabbit could have is the dreaded Diarrhea. Thankfully it is relatively rare for adult bunnies to develop true Diarrhea (unformed, watery stool). That's the good news. The bad news is, if you do find that your Holland has developed Diarrhea, this is extremely serious and needs to be treated by a vet right away!
Baby rabbit are often more prone to develop Diarrhea, which is usually due, in part, from breeders taking the kits away from their mother's at too young of an age. At 4 - 5 weeks these baby rabbits appear, small, cute, well adjusted and capable of doing what they need to on their own. They are eating hay and pellets on their own. Often, by this time, they have figured out how to use the water bottle. An untrained rabbit breeder, or rabbit hobbiest, can easily develop a false sense of security that this rabbit is ready to be on its own. FALSE! This is the farthest things from the truth. In reality this is a critical time for the proper development of kit's digestive systems. As mentioned above, rabbits need cecotropes to maintain proper digestion. Kits have not yet developed the necessary flora of bacteria in their system to obtain the proper nutrients their body's need. So during this time, they are actually eating their mother's cecotropes to build up their own bacteria community. This is why we refuse to sell ANY of our rabbits before they turn 8 weeks of age. It is around 8 weeks that kits will naturally ween themselves from their mothers because they have had the opportunity to develop their own natural flora of bacteria, allowing them to have a healthy digestive tract on their own.
BUNNY FIRST AID
We all know that it is important to have key items in our personal medicine cabinets. Band-Aids, anti-bacterial ointment, you get the idea. It's not much different when you have a pet rabbit. Having some basic necessities readily available to you in your "bunny kit" makes life much easier for you and and your rabbit. Looking inside my bunny First Aid Kit, I can easily tell you the key items I always have on hand for major and minor emergencies. I would suggest that you take note of these items and make sure you have them available in your house.
First and foremost, I always have Oxbow's Critical Care available. There are two different flavors and I've learned to get the original flavor, Anise versus the Apple/Banana flavor. The reason for this has little to do with taste, but rather how user friendly it is. The Anise flavor is a finer powder which is easier to push through a needless syringe once mixed with water, which is why I recommend it. NOTE: The bag of original flavor rarely indicates any flavor, where the Apple/Banana flavor is always listed on the front of the bag. Critical Care is a powder of vital nutrients that you mix with water for your bunny, if they should ever stop eating. A rabbit that is not eating will soon be a dead rabbit, which we do NOT want! So Critical Care allows bunny parents to get some food into their system and try to get that gut moving, while arranging for them to see a vet ASAP. Now I know it seems like more is a good thing, and our instinct is to buy big. However, a little of this powder goes A LONG WAY and it does expire. So I suggest getting the smaller 4.8 ounce bags. It has a built in zip fresh seal once opened, so it's very handy. Obviously, to go along with your bag of Oxbow's Critical Care, you will want about 5-10 needless syringes to use.
Sometimes one of the reason's your rabbit won't eat is gut pain from gas. Granted, that could be a sign of a more critical issue. But for the purpose of this list, we are merely looking at items you can have on hand to help your rabbit. If your rabbit develops gas (which is one of the reason's I recommend avoiding Broccoli), having some infant gas drops available can be an instant aid in providing relief to your furry bundle of joy! Giving them a few drops in their mouth, just like a human baby, can really help.
Now that we've finished reading through the items needed for more scary and urgent scenarios for your bunny, it's important not to overlook the more common items a bunny parent should have in their bunny First Aid Kit. Below is a list of basic items that can be easily obtained online or at your local farm/feed/pet store.
Vetrap by 3M
Neosporin Ointment - Original (no pain medicine included)
Small toenail trimmers for small dogs or cats
Cornstarch or small bag of flour if you accidentally cut the quick, while trimming nails.
Vetericyn Plus - Wound and Skin Care Spray (This stuff is AMAZING and I recommend it for all pets that you may have. It is completely safe and non-toxic if licked or ingested.)
Vetericyn Plus - Antimicrobial All Animal Eye Wash
Wet Wipes for the rare "poopy butt" when those cecotropes get stuck in their fur. I try to find sensitive or non scented.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION - Updated 2/10/22