Holland Lop - breed information and advice

Sometimes referred to as the Mini Lop but, despite this name, the Holland Lop Rabbit is not particularly small. These highly active, lop-eared rabbits are energetic and playful, and love cat toys, which keep them entertained and happy.

Breed information

Essentials

Size: Medium, weighing about 2.5kg (5.5lb)

Coat: Mini Lops have medium-length, dense fur that requires weekly or bi-weekly grooming. Their coat is either solid – one colour only – or broken up with patches of colours such as chestnut, black, chocolate, cream or fawn.

Temperament: Despite their playful, energetic nature, Mini Lops thrive best in quiet, calm households with older children, as they can be quite skittish.

Special requirements: Mini Lops need lots of time in the open air to run around and require plenty of stimulation. They’re known for enjoying cat toys, whiling the hours away playing with them.

Lifespan: Up to 10 years.

Otitis

The Mini Lop, as with most lop-eared rabbits, can suffer from ear infections such as otitis, where the ear canal becomes inflamed and itchy. These breeds typically have an extra fold in the outer ear, which creates a build-up of wax and can lead to bacterial or yeast infections.

Symptoms include ear-scratching, swelling, weight loss, head tilt and, in extreme cases, seizures and paralysis. A CT scan may be required to check if the inner ear is affected. Treatment usually involves antibiotics but, in some cases, surgery may be necessary.

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Dental disease

Many rabbits suffer from dental problems. Because rabbits’ teeth are constantly growing, they need a good, balanced diet with plenty of hay to help wear down teeth at an even rate.

Some rabbits develop problems with overgrown teeth, which can change the alignment of the mouth and lead to infection and abscesses. Abscesses will need to be surgically removed by your vet, as they do not respond to antibiotic treatment and are too thick to lance, while overgrown teeth may need to be regularly filed.

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Parasites

Parasites are a common problem among all breeds of rabbit. Cheyletiella mites in particular can cause itching and hair loss, but can be easily treated with anti-mite preparations in the form of an injection or spot-on treatment.

The E cuniculi parasite, which affects many rabbits, including lop-eared breeds, can be more difficult to treat. It’s spread by spores in contaminated urine and can be passed on to other rabbits. Although some rabbits with the parasite are symptomless, others are more sensitive. Symptoms include excessive thirst and urination, cataracts, head tilt and paralysis in the back legs. Although the parasite can’t be removed entirely, symptoms can be managed with worming treatments.

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Uterine cancer

Cancer of the uterus is the most common form of cancer in female rabbits, and Mini Lops have an increased risk of developing it.

Symptoms include fertility problems and stillbirths, loss of appetite and blood in the urine. In some cases, the cancer can spread to the lungs and cause breathing difficulties. If caught early enough to ensure that the cancer hasn’t spread to other tissues, removal of the uterus can mean the rabbit may continue to live a healthy life. Ultimately, prevention is better than cure, so ask your vet for their recommendations on spaying female rabbits.

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Bladder problems

Most animals only take in the calcium they need from their food and expel it through their guts, whereas rabbits absorb all the calcium they eat and expel it through their bladders. This can sometimes result in an excessive build-up of calcium, known as bladder sludge. Some rabbits, including Mini Lops, may develop bladder stones.

Symptoms include squealing or squeaking when passing urine, the presence of blood in the urine, or urine scald – where urine has been in contact with the rabbit’s skin for prolonged periods of time, causing a rash.

Luckily, these conditions are relatively straightforward to treat if caught early. Bladder stones can be surgically removed, while sludge can be treated with fluids to help flush out the bladder. If the rabbit also has cystitis (a bladder infection), a course of antibiotics will help to clear it up. Dietary changes, such as feeding good-quality pellets that ensure your rabbit gets just the right amount of calcium, can help prevent problems from occurring, too.

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