No matter the breed, rabbit food is essential but it’s not enough. Netherland dwarf rabbits are no exception. They have their own needs and wants, especially if you want them to live as long as they possibly can. Most of their needs can be compared to those of regular rabbits. However, they’re small and fragile, so they have a few extra things they need that you need to consider.
A little history
During the 1880s, Dutch rabbit breeders in England noticed some mutations. White rabbits with red eyes and small, short bodies began appearing. The first batch of this breed was sent to Germany for further research and to try to pair them with other breeds. They were bred selectively with species of wild rabbits in an attempt to give them a more diverse color pallet.
The colors didn’t stick in time, and in a few generations, this breed of rabbits was once again white with red eyes. Initially dubbed “Hermelin”, the breed remained white all the way to the 1930s. Jan Meyering, a Dutch breeder, and a couple of her friends started experimenting with several breeding techniques.
Within a single decade, they finally managed to produce a variety of colors that we see in this breed today. In 1965, the first shipment of Netherland dwarf rabbits finally arrived in the United States of America.
Ever since then, breeders have been adding and improving this breed as much as they could have. Even today, people are still experimenting with several breeding techniques. They are still quite popular among rabbit breeders, and for good reason. They are generally docile and quite easy to care for, but we’ll get into that later down the line.
Netherland dwarf rabbits are very playful compared to other rabbit breeds. As such, they will need a spacious cage and lots of toys to play with. And since they jump a lot, the ideal cage should also have many places that they can climb. You should also clean the cage often, and scrub it at least once a week.
Otherwise, you can leave them running throughout the house. But doing that will most likely mean that you’ll lose track of where they are. They might hide under your bed or even be able to climb in your trash bin. Not to mention you’ll most likely encounter feces all over the house. So if you choose this method, be prepared to face a few consequences.
Speaking of doing their business, if you do choose to let them roam freely throughout the house, rest assured that this breed is more intelligent than other rabbits. It is quite easy to litter train them and they are able to recognize simple commands. Doing so is relatively simple. Teach them to do their business inside a litter the same way you’d teach a cat or a dog.
First, let’s get a few details out of the way. These rabbits are not free eaters. If you let them eat too much, or if you feed them the wrong food, they will experience diarrhea or even death. The foods you should avoid at all costs are cabbages, lettuce, and absolutely all types of nuts.
Fortunately, they are very cheap to feed. They only require half a cup of food for an entire day. That’s enough to keep them nourished and healthy. You can feed them veggies, apples, and bananas. Granola cereals and raspberries are highly recommended for pregnant rabbits, as the former helps with milk production.
Normally, these rabbits don’t require any vaccines by law, especially if you keep them in the USA. However, if you plan on traveling to other parts of the world, be aware that they might encounter diseases that could be fatal to them. Because of this, it is wise to make an appointment with the vet if you plan to take your rabbit on a trip to another country.
Furthermore, if you have a lice infestation in your house, it would be best to vaccinate your rabbit for Myxomatosis. Viral hemorrhagic disease is also deadly to the Netherland dwarf rabbit and can be contracted from ticks and mosquitos.
Keeping parasites away
You will also need to contact a veterinarian for parasite removal and deworming. Like all rabbits, they are susceptible to mites, ticks, and fleas. If you keep them inside your house, they shouldn’t be necessarily a problem.
Still, it is better to do a checkup from time to time. They also have a high tendency of developing internal worms. You’ll need to take them to the vet every six months just for deworming. If not, the internal worms will impact their nutrition negatively. And if left unchecked for enough time, they can also start eating the rabbit’s flesh.
Malocclusion is common among Netherland dwarf rabbits. That is why it’s critical to have the vet trim their teeth regularly, more specifically their incisors. Otherwise, they don’t require much grooming, aside from using a soft brush to help them shed excessive fur. Moreover, doing so helps you detect if they have encountered parasites.
If you want to breed Netherland dwarf rabbits, keep in mind that it’s a complicated process. You’ll need extensive research and discipline to achieve this. It is best to consult with a vet who’s specialized in rabbit breeds. It is also important to note that trying to breed them with other breeds of rabbits can result in disease or malformation.
If you only want them as pets, it is best to neuter them. Like all rabbits, their mating instincts kick in fairly early. If they don’t have a partner around, you might see them act aggressively. What’s most interesting regarding this aspect is that the female tends to get more territorial than the male.
The male and female shouldn’t be kept together except when it’s mating time. One more interesting fact is that females tend to be a little larger than males. This may seem odd, but at their size, it makes perfect sense.
Despite being more territorial, the females are actually quite peaceful. The males, however, can act quite aggressively if they feel they’re in danger. It is best to approach them carefully until they get used to your presence. They also might get scared of other pets, so be careful to introduce them to one another slowly.
Closing thoughts on Netherland dwarf rabbits
If you want a pet that’s generally docile and easy to care for, you certainly can’t go wrong with this breed. As long as you take them to the vet from time to time, and care for their teeth, they will bring joy to your household. Kids will definitely love them, and they’ll receive that love right back once the rabbits get used to human interaction.
Feeding them is cheap and as long as you also provide them with a lot of water, they’ll stay hydrated and healthy for a long time. Their life expectancy is somewhere between 10 and 12 years. In contrast, larger rabbit breeds only live up to five or six years – half of Netherland dwarf rabbits’ lifespan.
If you want them to live longer, it is best to neuter them. And they will also be less prone to diseases this way. Also, make sure to let them outside their cage for two or three hours daily. They like freedom and exercise, and sometimes the cage – no matter how large it is – can feel like confinement to them.
Of course, you’ll have to keep an eye on them during this time. As mentioned earlier, their high energy levels will make them venture to numerous places inside your house. You should also make sure to keep the doors and windows shut so that they don’t escape. Since they’re so little, they have barely any defense against predators, such as your neighbor’s dog.
The key takeaway from all of this info is that they’re very good pets. They’re probably one of your best choices, especially if you are keen on getting rabbits. Just keep in mind all the essential info in this article. If necessary, make a list of all the do’s and don’t and stick to it.