Lop-eared rabbits are cute and funny animals that give their owner a lot of positive emotions. Representatives of this breed are also called rams – they received the nickname thanks to a massive small head with a broad forehead. In general, lop-eared sheep resemble plush toys, and are excellent as a pet for families with small children. For the animal to always feel good, healthy and cheerful, it requires competent care and a balanced diet.
Dwarf rabbits with drooping ears are relatives of representatives of the breed called the ram, which are bred for industrial purposes. Her version was derived as a result of hard work, and no one believed in her success, since with a decrease in the size of the animals, their main highlight was looseness. But breeder Adrian de Cock did not give up, and in 1964 a new breed of rabbits was bred, and her “father” presented the results to the public. In Russia, lop-eared sheep first appeared in the 90s and quickly gained popularity among pet lovers. There are two types of sheep – the usual lop-eared and Dutch. There are no serious differences between them, but the Dutch are slightly smaller than their relatives.
The breed was bred in the middle of the last century as a result of painstaking selection work.
Features and specifications.
Lop-eared rabbits reach a weight of 1.5 to 8 kilograms (depending on the breed), females are slightly larger than males and have slight differences in body structure. The remaining characteristics are as follows:
- cylindrical, compact body;
- the neck is short, turning into a massive chest;
- spherical back;
- large eyes;
- head broad, with protruding forehead;
- the nose is short and dull;
- the coat is thick and dense.
The main characteristic of the breed is long ears, which are turned inwards by shells and fit the rabbit’s muzzle on both sides, giving it a personal expression. On the tips, they are slightly rounded, and the bases, on the contrary, are thickened. The color of the lop-eared sheep may be different – chinchilla, fawn and reddish individuals predominate, but other colors may occur.
Temper at lop-eared sheep is calm and friendly. At first, they may behave cautiously and fearfully, but then they get used to the household, they love to play and frolic. Representatives of this breed are good for children, so they are often raised as a pet for young family members. They are distinguished by curiosity and quickly master a new territory of habitat, and sometimes become attached to the owner, like dogs. It is believed that rabbits with drooping ears are less shy precisely because of their main feature – the ears muffle sounds, and they have less effect on the nervous system of the animal.
How to contain?
For a pet from the breed of lop-eared sheep, it is better to choose a well-lit and ventilated, warm enough room, where there are the least number of people. First of all, you need to remove from the zone of reach all the wires – rabbits love to gnaw everything that gets in their way, and they can be electrocuted. And for the animal to feel comfortable and calm, you need to fulfill several conditions.
How to tame?
Tame a lop-eared rabbit ram is quite simple, but the new owners will have to show some patience. Little rabbits are rather proud and independent creatures, so you do not need to force them to take them out of the comfort zone, but wait a bit until they get used to the new conditions.
- The rabbit must be immediately caged and left alone – it must become familiar with the new dwelling and feel safe. It is best to leave the door open and wait until the pet wants to leave the dwelling itself, although this may take more than one hour.
- To behave with a rabbit should be gently and unobtrusively – do not make noise, do not hang over it and do not make sudden movements.
- Most often, rabbits that have fallen into a new setting are huddled into a corner and are sitting very quietly, but some may behave excitedly and even aggressively – the reason for this lies in fear or sexual arousal. In this case, you need to say a few words in a calm, gentle tone and offer your pet some delicacy.
In no case can you scare a rabbit, make noise or sharply grab it – it will be challenging to tame a frightened animal.
If the rabbit is trying to bite or show aggression, you need to take him by the scruff of the neck and lightly press him to the floor. In the wild, rabbits climb their back to the enemy, thus demonstrating their superiority.
Rabbits, especially small ones, should not be given meat and milk – these products are absolutely not suitable for feeding lop-eared sheep and can spoil digestion. Besides, you need to purchase a stone of minerals and attach it to the bars so that the animals can nibble it, as well as provide them with fresh water. It should not be fresh, recruited from the water supply, and defended during the day.
It is rather simple to care for the lop-eared pets – you need to regularly clean the cage, clean up food debris, wash the feeder and the drinker, once a week brush the fur slightly so that it doesn’t have tangles on it. Three times a week you should clean the animals’ ears and wash the eyes, and cut the claws once every 1.5 months. It is necessary to bathe pets only as necessary – after hygienic procedures they are wrapped in a towel and kept away from drafts until they dry out.
Lop-eared rabbits are playful and funny animals. If you keep them in a cage all the time, the risk of obesity and other diseases increases, so they need to give vent to at least two hours a day. They love to jump on high ground, run through tunnels, gnaw and tear paper, chasing balls and other objects, dig holes. You can purchase special designs in the form of labyrinths, houses and other toys, as well as use paper without ink.
The owner of a furry animal is better to spend money on toys – if the baby gets bored, he will start to tear and gnaw everything that gets in his way.
Vaccination and diseases.
The most dangerous diseases of lop-eared sheep are myxomatosis and hemorrhagic disease. To protect a pet from infection, you need to undergo a vaccination procedure – it is held at the age of 45 days, and the rabbit must weigh at least 500 grams. 10 days before the vaccine is introduced, the animal must be progestinated – it is impossible to give drugs for worms later or during the production of antibodies by the body, since this will create too much stress on the immune system.
If the owner is not going to breed lop-eared sheep, the pet should be neutered or spayed, otherwise during puberty he will become aggressive, restless and may use toys for other purposes. The operation is performed at the age of 4-6 months, after which the rabbit returns to its original state.
Lop-eared sheep live only 5 years, in rare cases up to 10 years, and so that the rabbit does not die ahead of time, you need to carefully monitor its health.
The following symptoms may indicate a disease:
- fading of hair, loss of silkiness and shine;
- loss of appetite, activity, interest in games;
- temperature rise over 39.6 ° C.
With the development of these symptoms, you should immediately contact a veterinarian to cure the disease in time. If the animal has a fever, you can alleviate its condition by applying a cold compress to the stomach and ears.
To prevent diseases, you need to protect the animal from overheating, hypothermia and drafts, do not put the cage next to sources of loud sounds (player, TV, computer) and under direct sunlight. An important role is played by the correct diet – in no case should animals be given meat, milk, chocolate and other products from their table, even if they are fresh and of high quality. The digestive system of animals is not designed to digest such food, and can cause serious problems. Since many diseases of rabbits can occur hidden, a pet needs to be taken about once every six months for routine checkups to the vet.
Rabbits do not tolerate polluted air, especially the increased concentration of tobacco smoke, carbon dioxide and ammonia vapors, so the room where the animals are located must be aired regularly.
Do not buy rabbits from unverified vendors – there is a high probability that the animal will be sick. It is best to buy pets from experienced breeders who can talk about the future pet’s pedigree and the possible genetic diseases of its parents. The selected ram should be carefully examined, paying attention to the following:
- clean, shiny eyes;
- nose is cold and wet;
- smooth and shiny coat;
- activity and interest in the world.
Tangled, ragged wool and constant scratching may indicate the presence of parasites, and bald patches – for lichen. Sagging belly resembling an empty bag, clouded sclera and protruding bones indicate diseases of internal organs. If the animal constantly licks the anus and wants to sit backwards on the floor, most likely it has worms. Buying such an animal will bring more problems than joy, especially considering that some diseases of rabbits can be transmitted to people.
With proper care for the lop-eared sheep, he will be an excellent pet and best friend for all households, and communication with him will become a source of positive and positive emotions.