While most people don’t think of rabbits as fluffy creatures, it all depends on the species. For instance, lionhead rabbits have an abundance of fur that makes them precious companions. Before you adopt one, you might wonder how long do lionhead rabbits live?
Lionhead rabbits can live for seven years on the lower end and 10 years max. That gives you plenty of time to bond and make incredible memories with your pet bunny.
If you’re curious about more details on the lionhead lifespan, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into all things lionhead. We’ll even compare their decade-long lifespan to other rabbit species to see which lives longer.
What Is a Lionhead Rabbit?
Lionhead rabbits first came to the world from Belgium. They didn’t naturally exist, but rather, they were bred. They’re half Netherland Dwarf and half miniature Swiss fox.
The Netherland Dwarf rabbit is specific to the Netherlands. The species has an extremely small body that’s often described as cobby and stout. It has much bigger eyes as well as a sizeable head.
The Swiss fox rabbit lends lionheads their signature long, beautiful fur. Swiss foxes come from Switzerland and were bred from Havana and Angora rabbits. They’re bigger than Netherland Dwarf rabbits unless you breed them smaller. With a muscular body hidden by all their fur, Swiss fox rabbits have a normal-sized head and eyes.
Combine the two together and you get the lionhead rabbit. Admittedly, this species has a genetic mutation that has led to the abundant fur that’s a lionhead signature. Lionheads got their size from the Netherland Dwarf, as they’re not very big. They have a head of a normal size but an especially pronounced muzzle. Their manes fully encircle the head and the ears. That’s why some people say this bunny has its own wool cap. The fur even traces down to the neck, ending in a V-shape. This fur can grow to two inches in length.
You can find both single-maned and double-maned lionheads. Those with a single mane lack a mane gene, in which they should have two. They may have a mane for a few years, but eventually, they lose it. The mane may appear on the rump, chest, chin, ears, and head.
Double-maned lionheads then have both mane genes. That means they don’t lose their fur at any point throughout their lives. In fact, they have more fur than some other lionheads. It surrounds their flanks and looks like almost like a skirt. Of course, the signature head mane is present as well.
How Long Do Lionhead Rabbits Live?
On the lower end of the spectrum, you can expect to have a lionhead rabbit for at least seven years. If you care for them well, you could even enjoy 10 fantastic, enriching years with your bunny.
Do Lionhead Rabbits Live Longer or Shorter Lives Than Other Rabbit Species?
Is 10 years the average amount of time you can expect to have with a rabbit? Do lionheads live longer or shorter lives compared to these other breeds? To answer that question, here’s an overview of various rabbit species and their lifespans.
- Holland lop: Seven to 12 years
- Rex rabbit: Five to six years
- Flemish Giant rabbit: Seven years
- Netherland Dwarf rabbit: 10 to 12 years
- Swiss fox rabbit: Five to seven years
- Eastern cottontail: Three years
- Mini lop: Five to 10 years
- Polish rabbit: Five to six years
- Checkered Giant rabbit: Five to eight years
- Tapeti: Three years
- Pygmy rabbit: Three to five years
- Satin rabbit: Eight to 12 years
- Alaska rabbit: Seven to 10 years
- Mexican cottontail: Two years
- Mountain cottontail: Three years
- Jersey Wooly: Seven to 10 years
- Volcano rabbit: Seven to nine years
- Swamp rabbit: Less than two years
- Desert cottontail: About eight years
Looking at the above data, we’d say a lionhead rabbit has an about average lifespan. Many species of bunnies sadly only live for three or five years. Others have a life expectancy of under a decade. These include the desert cottontail, volcano rabbit, Checkered Giant, the Swiss fox (part of the lionhead ancestry), and the Flemish Giant.
Then there’s a few rabbits that have longer lifespans than lionheads. These species may live for up to 12 years. They are the satin rabbit, the Netherland Dwarf, and the Holland lop.
When you consider that lionhead rabbits come from the Swiss fox and the Netherland Giant rabbit species, their lifespans make more sense. Netherland Dwarf rabbits live 10 years on the lower end and up to 12 years on the higher end. Swiss foxes can live for five to seven years. The average lifespan of a lionhead is seven to 10 years. They get it from their ancestors.
The Factors That Can Lengthen Lionhead Lifespan
If you have a lionhead rabbit or you’re considering getting one, you’ll want to do everything you can to provide it a comfortable, happy life. How can you ensure your bunny lives for 10 years instead of seven? While there are no guarantees, doing the following could help.
Maintaining the Lionhead’s Diet
Lionhead rabbits have a slightly different diet than what you might feed other rabbits. While we’ve written about lionhead diet on this blog before, we’ll touch upon it again now.
Their diet mostly includes hay, especially Timothy hay. This food source has minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, and calcium that a healthy rabbit needs. You can augment Timothy hay with alfalfa hay or Lucerne. It contains minerals, vitamins B through K, protein, and calcium. However, unlike Timothy hay, alfalfa hay is more caloric. Feed too much to your lionhead and they’ll gain a ton of weight quick.
Besides hay and hay pellets, lionheads need greens and vegetables from time to time. It’s also very important they always have a fresh supply of water. Hay dries them out quick, so they have greater hydration needs than some other rabbit species.
Keeping the Rabbit Indoors
When you first bring your newly-adopted lionhead rabbit home with you, you have a decision to make. Do you keep them inside or outside? If they’re inside with you, you can see and spend time with them every day. Taking them outside could seem ideal if you don’t have a lot of living space, right?
Not really. You want your rabbit indoors whenever possible. Lionhead or not, an outdoor rabbit generally lives a shorter life than one that’s kept indoors. To understand why, just look at the history of the humble rabbit. These prey animals spend their days hidden underground, waiting for a time to come out and forage for food.
Domesticated rabbits carry few if any traits from their wild ancestors. That makes them especially susceptible to attacks from hawks, racoons, and even feral cats. Since rabbits don’t have many means of defending themselves, these attacks can lead to death.
Grooming Them Regularly
You may wonder what grooming your lionhead has to do with their lifespan. It turns out, a lot.
Lionhead rabbits have long manes that can exceed two inches without regular maintenance. These can block a rabbit’s vision, causing them to bump into things and injure themselves.
It gets so much worse than that. When a lionhead rabbit has fur that’s in their way, they’ll begin grooming themselves. Like a cat that licks too much of its own fur, rabbits can get hairballs or furballs. While cats can dispel these hairballs from their bodies, rabbits cannot. They don’t have the ability to vomit. That means the hairball can get stuck in their intestines, leading to blockages that could cause death.
Also, while it has nothing to do with their lifespan, brushing can prevent matts from forming on the mane. These tangled knots hurt the rabbit. Brushing them out causes pain as well, so you’re often left having to trim the matts out.
Getting Them Spayed or Neutered
Lastly, if you want your lionhead rabbit to live longer, make sure you get them spayed or neutered. If you adopted a somewhat older rabbit, they may have had this procedure done already. Baby rabbits will need the surgery.
There are so many reasons to get your rabbit spayed or neutered. For one, you don’t want to worry about your rabbit getting pregnant or impregnating another bunny. Caring for a litter or rabbits not only presents a difficult challenge, but it’s not cheap, either. You’ll spend lots of time in and out of the vet, getting the mother and babies checked often (not to mention vaccinated).
Okay, so what does spaying and neutering have to do with expanding your rabbit’s lifespan? We’re glad you asked. When a rabbit stays un-spayed or un-neutered, they become driven by their sexual urges. They want to reproduce, and they’ll essentially stop at nothing until they can do that. Sometimes that means venturing off your property to find a mate.
As we said before, your rabbit spending unsupervised time outdoors isn’t the best idea. They’re at risk of getting fatally attacked by many creatures. Also, now with the sexually aggressive behaviors some un-neutered male rabbits will display, they even become the enemy of other rabbits. Two males can fight over a female. The injuries one or both rabbits sustain from these battles can be deadly.
Spay and neuter surgeries can also prevent many life-threatening diseases and conditions in rabbits. For instance, male rabbits have a lower chance of getting testicular tumors while female rabbits may avoid uterine cancer. Also, females can prevent mammarian and ovarian cancers.
Lionhead rabbits live for seven to 10 years. That lifespan comes from their ancestors, the Swiss fox rabbit and Netherland Dwarf. The former lives for about seven years and the latter about a decade.
To give your lionhead the longest, happiest life, make sure you feed them a hay-based diet with plenty of fresh water. You should also groom them regularly, keep them indoors, and get them spayed or neutered.