Those adorable floppy lop ears make this one of the most endearing and popular types of pet rabbit. But before you rush out to adopt one of these snuggly-eared bundles of fluff, there’s some important info you need to know! What’s behind those signature droopy ears, and how can you pick the right breed for your home? Are there any special care needs for lops? How do you set them up for success with proper housing, nutrition and vet visits? This complete guide will give you the insider tips on bringing home healthy happy lop eared rabbits. Get ready to be a floppy ear expert!
We All Know What Lop Eared Rabbits Are – Or Do We?
Lop eared rabbits are one of the most popular types of pet rabbits, with their cute floppy ears that hang down on either side of their head. The lop ear is caused by a genetic mutation that causes the cartilage in the ear to be weak and fold over, giving that adorable floppy look.
But not all rabbits with lop ears are the same! There are a few different types of lop eared rabbit breeds, from the very common Holland Lop to more rare breeds like the American Fuzzy Lop. While they all share the trademark lop ears, there are some differences between types that any potential bunny owner should be aware of.
Some key things that set lop eared rabbits apart:
- Floppy lop ears – the signature trait!
- Tend to be on the smaller side as rabbit breeds go
- Known for being affectionate and social
- Make great pets for children and first-time owners
Lop ears do require some extra care to be sure they don't get infected. And some breeds like the Holland Lop tend to be prone to dental issues due to their compact skull shape. But overall, their sweet and playful personalities make lop eared bunnies a favorite for families and rabbit lovers.
When you see those adorably floppy ears, you know you're looking at a lop! But read on to learn more about the different types of lop eared rabbits.
Why Do They Have Lop Ears?
Lop eared rabbits get their signature floppy ears from a genetic mutation that causes the cartilage in their ears to be underdeveloped and weak. This results in ears that fold over and hang down on either side of the head in that endearing lop shape.
The underdeveloped ear cartilage is caused by a recessive gene. For a rabbit to have lop ears, they must inherit a copy of the lop ear gene from both parents – if they only get one copy, their ears will stand up normally. That's why lop-eared breeds must be selectively bred – both parents must carry the lop ear gene to produce babies with lop ears.
The lop ear mutation first arose randomly in rabbits kept for meat production. While floppy lop ears might seem like more of a disadvantage for wild rabbits needing to hear well, they proved very popular among domestic bunny enthusiasts.
The first lop ear rabbit was recorded in Germany in the early 20th century. Breeders started intentionally breeding lop-eared rabbits, leading to standardized lop-eared breeds like the Holland Lop becoming established.
So while those cute floppy ears may not do much for hearing, they certainly won the hearts of bunny lovers everywhere! The lop ear gene mutation created a new type of domestic rabbit with its own appeal and fanbase.
Is There Any Downside to Having Lop Ears?
While lop ears are adorable and a defining trait of popular rabbit breeds like the Holland Lop, those floppy ears do come with some potential downsides that owners should be aware of.
The main health issue associated with lop ears is a higher risk of ear infections. Floppy ears with less airflow can more easily trap moisture, dirt, and debris inside the ear canal, leading to infection. Lop ear rabbits must have their ears carefully cleaned and monitored to stay healthy.
In addition, some studies have linked the lop ear gene to dental issues in rabbits. Breeds like Holland Lops often have compact skull shapes, which may cause buck teeth and molar points to grow into alignment issues. This can lead to overgrown teeth and dental problems over time.
Finally, the lop ear shape seems to interfere with hearing and audio detection. Rabbits rely heavily on their ears to hear potential threats in their surroundings. While not critical for domestic pets, lop eared rabbits may be less attuned to sounds compared to upright eared breeds.
So lop ear rabbits need a little extra care and attention when it comes to ear cleaning, dental health, and creating a safe home environment. But most owners find that these small considerations are worth it for the delight of having an adorable lop as part of the family!
Lop Ear Types
While all lop-eared rabbits have those trademark floppy ears, there are actually a few different types or shapes that lop ear positioning can take. Knowing the differences can help identify mix breed lop ear buns!
Here are the main lop ear types:
Full lop – Ears hang fully drooped over on both sides. This is the most extreme lop ear type, with ears very long and floppy.
Half lop – Ears hang down but not as extremely as full lop. They have more stiffness and structure and don't droop quite as low on the sides.
Crown lop – Ears flop forward and drape over the face and forehead rather than drooping sideways. Gives the appearance of bangs over the eyes.
Head tilt lop – One ear hangs straight down while the other sticks out sideways. Can alternate between sides.
Double full lop – Both ears fully lop over but tips turn up slightly. This gives ears more of a horseshoe shape.
Of course, lop ear rabbits can also have ears that are somewhere between these types. The amount of cartilage present and genetic factors lead to lots of variation in how those cute lop ears present!
Lop Eared Rabbit Breeds
Now that we know a bit more about those signature lop ears, let's look at some of the most popular lop eared rabbit breeds. While they all share the lop ear gene, they have distinct appearances and traits.
Popular lop eared breeds include:
Holland Lop – One of the most popular pet rabbit breeds, known for being docile and sociable. Small and compact at 3-4 lbs. Short, thick ears.
Mini Lop – Slightly larger than the Holland Lop at 4-6 lbs. Distinctively wide and thick head. Longer ears that hang low.
American Fuzzy Lop – Medium rabbit covered with soft angora wool coat. Must be groomed frequently.
Velveteen Lop – Similar to Holland Lop but with a dense velvety coat that requires lots of brushing.
French Lop – One of the larger lop breeds at 9-11 lbs. Bold head and thick sturdy body.
English Lop – A very large lop breed reaching 10-15 lbs. Long and muscular. The largest lop-eared breed.
Dwarf Hotot – All white with dramatic black eye bands. Small compact body. Black eyes.
There are also many mixed breed lop eared rabbits out there with any combination of the lop breeds in their heritage. Whatever their genetic makeup, their adorable lop ears make them 100% lovable!
What You Need to Know Before Considering Ownership
Lop eared rabbits make wonderful pets with their affectionate personalities and cute appearances. But there are a few key things to understand before deciding if a lop ear bunny is right for your home.
First, not all breeds are suited for all environments. Very large lop breeds may not do well in small spaces. Hot climates may not be ideal for lops with heavy fur coats that require frequent brushing. Be sure to pick a breed suited for your household.
Lops do require more attentive ear care and dental monitoring than upright eared breeds. Are you able and willing to regularly check ears, trim teeth, and schedule vet cleanings? This is essential for their health.
Lops are social and may do best paired with another fixed rabbit companion so they are not alone while you are away at work or school. Can you commit to caring for a bonded pair?
Rabbits are active and require plenty of exercise and playtime. Lops enjoy exploring and need bunny-proofed spaces. Can you provide sufficient indoor and supervised outdoor playtime daily?
Lastly, rabbits have a long lifespan of 8-12 years. Are you ready for a long-term commitment to your lop eared friend?
If you can meet their needs with proper housing, health care, attention, and patience, a lop eared rabbit can make a wonderful addition to your home!
What are the Costs Involved?
Bringing home an adorable lop eared rabbit is exciting, but it's important to understand and budget for the costs involved before hopping into pet ownership. Here are some average costs to expect for a pet lop ear bunny.
Adoption fee or initial purchase from breeder – $50-$100
Cage/housing setup – $150-$300 for quality cage, litterbox, bedding
Rabbit proofing supplies – $50-$100 for protecting wires, blocking off areas
Spay/neuter – $100-$300 depending on location
Food – $10-$20 per month for pellets, hay, vegetables
Litter – $10-$20 per month for litterbox fillings
Toys & treats – $5-$20 per month
Grooming supplies – $30-50 for brushes, nail clippers, ear wipes
Vet visits – $75-$150 per visit for exams, bloodwork, etc.
Emergencies & illness- $200-$5000+ depending on issue
As you can see, while the initial adoption costs may be low, medical care, supplies, and housing setup can really add up. Budget $500-$1000 per year for a lop eared rabbit depending on veterinary needs. Exotic pet insurance can offset major medical bills.
The long lifespan of rabbits means this is a long-term investment in your furry friend's health and happiness. But caring for a lop eared rabbit is extremely rewarding!
Committing to Rabbit Ownership
Bringing home a lop eared rabbit is a big commitment. Their lifespan of 8-12 years means they will be a member of your family for a long time. Before adopting, make sure you are fully prepared to provide your bunny friend with a loving home for life.
House rabbits are very social and require lots of attention and supervised playtime. Can you dedicate 1-2 hours per day for your bun to explore and exercise outside of their cage? Rabbits enjoy interacting with their owners through games and cuddling.
Your rabbit will rely on you to provide fresh food, clean their litterbox, and refresh their water daily. Are you willing to take on these duties? Maintaining their housing is key to health.
Vet visits for checkups and any illness need to be scheduled and attended consistently. Rabbits hide symptoms well – you must monitor closely to catch issues early. Can you commit to proper vet care?
You'll need to bunny-proof your home by protecting wires, blocking access to unsafe areas, and removing hazards. Are you ready to essentially rabbit-childproof your space?
Lastly, who will care for your rabbit if you take vacations or need to be away for an extended period? Do you have trusted family or friends who can bunny sit?
Rabbit ownership means committing to at least a decade of devoted care. But for lop lovers, the reward of having an affectionate floppy eared friend is worth this long-term investment!
Giving a Rabbit a Second Chance
Sadly, many pet rabbits end up abandoned or given up due to impulsive purchases by owners not ready for the commitment involved. This is especially common after the Easter holiday. But giving up a rabbit creates lifelong emotional damage.
If you have the compassion, consider giving a rescued lop eared rabbit a second chance in your home. There are thousands of unwanted buns in need of forever families.
When adopting a rescue:
- Get the rabbit spayed/neutered if not already done
- Schedule a vet visit to establish baseline health
- Commit to patience – it takes time for rabbits to adjust to new homes
- Create a safe, comforting space for them to settle in
- Work slowly to build trust through treats, toys, and gentle attention
- Partner with rescues to address any behavioral issues
While their past may be uncertain, what matters most is the loving future you can provide. With time, effort and affection, adopted rabbits blossom into faithful bonded companions.
Opening your home to a rescue lop ear rabbit provides immense rewards – for both you and your new bunny friend. You'll give them the life they always deserved.
Housing for Your Rabbit
It's essential to set up proper housing for pet rabbits before bringing them home. Here are some top tips for creating a safe, spacious home base for your lop eared bunny.
Size – The minimum recommended cage size is 4'x2'. The bigger the better to allow running and playing!
Layout – Multi-level cages allow more running space. Include ramps/steps between levels.
Bedding – Line the cage bottom with absorbent paper or wood bedding. Replace regularly.
Hideaway – Provide an enclosed plastic house or cardboard box for napping/hiding.
Litterbox – Include a litterbox in the cage filled with rabbit-safe litter.
Water – Heavy ceramic bowls prevent tipping. Refill with filtered water daily.
Food – Use a heavy bowl or hopper to dispense rabbit pellets.
Toys – Rotate a variety of chew toys to keep them engaged.
Location – Place the cage in a room with natural light but away from drafts or direct sun.
Safety – Ensure the cage and any accessories have no sharp edges or hazards.
Rather than a cage, you can also bunny-proof a small room as living space. But ensure it is fully enclosed and hazard-free.
Making a Nice Comfy Bed
An essential part of housing for pet rabbits is preparing a soft, warm bed inside their cage or enclosure. Here's how to make a comfy sleep space your lop will love.
Base layer – Place a waterproof mat, tarp or thick rug as the bottom layer to protect from accidents.
Mattress – Use a thick piece of memory foam or egg crate cushion measured to fit the space.
Bedding – Cover the mattress with a few inches of soft shredded paper or hay for nesting.
Hideaway – Arrange a cardboard box turned on its side over half the bed for privacy.
Blanket – Drape a small fleece blanket over part of the bedding for extra coziness.
Wash – Replace soiled bedding promptly and wash all fabric items weekly.
Location – Set up the bed in a quiet, draft-free spot in their housing.
Avoid loose fiber beddings which can cause digestive issues if eaten. Ensure bedding stays dry and change out as needed.
With a cushy mattress, nesting material and hideaway, your rabbit will happily hop into their new bed!
What About Housing My Rabbit Outside?
You may be wondering if you can house your pet rabbit in an outdoor hutch or cage rather than inside. Here are some important considerations around outdoor rabbit housing.
Outdoor temperatures pose a major risk. Rabbits must be kept at 55-75F degrees. Extreme heat or cold can quickly become fatal. Outdoor housing only works in mild climates with temperature control.
Rabbits are very vulnerable to predators like coyotes, foxes, birds of prey. Outdoor hutches need reinforced screening and protection underground too. But risks still remain.
Your rabbit will experience less social interaction and mental stimulation outside vs. inside with family time. Rabbits are very social and require daily attention.
Weather elements like rain, wind, or drafts can be very stressful. Their housing needs heavy fortification against all outdoor conditions.
Diet and hydration can be harder to monitor with limited indoor access. Fresh foods, clean water and hay must be provided multiple times daily.
Lastly, zoonotic parasites like ticks, fleas and mites easily spread outdoors. Your rabbit will need diligent prevention and prompt veterinary care if infested.
While outdoor housing is possible in the right climate and with very secure enclosures, the risks to health, safety and wellbeing make indoor housing the safest choice. Your rabbit will be happiest housed close to their loving family!
Dealing with the Litter Box!
One key to housing pet rabbits inside is getting them reliably using their litter box. Here's how to deal with bunny litter training.
Choose a large cat litter pan or sturdy plastic tray. Fill with rabbit-safe litter.
Place the box in the corner of their housing. Rabbits naturally use corners to relieve themselves.
Once they use the litter box, reward with a treat! Positive reinforcement works well.
Slowly move the box to the desired permanent spot as they learn to use it more consistently.
Clean the litter box completely every 1-2 days to encourage good bathroom habits.
Add a layer of hay over the litter to provide extra motivation to use the box.
Clean up any accidents promptly with an enzymatic cleaner to prevent repeat incidents.
If accidents continue, confine your rabbit to a smaller space until fully trained.
Consider adding a second litter box in their enclosure for convenience.
Be patient – it can take weeks to fully litter train a rabbit. But sticking to a regular cleaning routine and rewarding successes will get those bunny bathroom habits on track!
Safe Rabbit Litter Choices
Choosing an appropriate litter material is important for your rabbit's housing setup. Here are some safe, recommended litter options:
Paper-based litters – Made from recycled paper, these are highly absorbent and safe if ingested. Brands like Carefresh and Kaytee are available at pet stores.
Aspen shavings – Natural shredded aspen wood makes an absorbent litter that is non-toxic for bunnies who might nibble on it. Avoid cedar, pine and softwood shavings.
Clay litter – Look for natural clay litters with non-clumping clay to reduce dust.
Food and Water
Proper diet is key to keeping your lop eared rabbit healthy and happy. Here are some tips for their food and water needs:
Pellets – Provide a high-quality rabbit pellet formula with about 1/4 cup daily. Choose a product for their age range.
Hay – Unlimited timothy or other grass hay must always be available for digestion and nibbling.
Vegetables – About 2 cups daily of leafy greens and vegetables like kale, carrots, greens. Introduce new veggies slowly.
Fruits – Limit high-sugar fruits to 1-2 tablespoons daily as treats. Good options are bananas, apples, berries.
Treats – Healthy treats include oats, herbs, flower tops and apple branches. Limit to 1 tablespoon daily.
Water – Fresh filtered water in a bowl, bottle or dispenser refilled daily. Change water sources frequently to prevent bacterial buildup. Monitor intake.
No seeds, nuts, grains or dairy/human junk food which can lead to deadly issues like GI stasis. Stick to the basics of hay, pellets, and veggies!
Feed at regular times each morning and evening. Always monitor that your rabbit is eating, drinking, and producing normal droppings to ensure their diet is on track.
Veterinarian & Health Care
Finding an experienced rabbit-savvy vet is critical to properly caring for your lop eared friend. Here's how to cover those important vet bases:
Find a vet who specializes in rabbit care – they will understand the unique needs of bunnies as exotic pets. Your breeder may have recommendations.
Book an introductory wellness visit to establish your rabbit as a patient and get baseline health info. Discuss preventatives like flea/mite treatments.
Discuss spaying/neutering your rabbit if this has not already been done. This procedure prevents major health risks down the road.
Keep up with any recommended vaccines and lab tests to monitor for issues early before they become advanced.
Set a reminder to take your rabbit for annual wellness visits to catch any concerns proactively. Senior rabbits may need biannual vet visits.
Having an experienced rabbit vet who you can call anytime with questions or concerns will give you essential guidance on keeping your lop as healthy and happy as possible! Don't wait until emergencies happen to find a vet.
Common Health Problems
Lop eared rabbits are prone to some common health issues that owners should monitor for. Being aware of these will help you identify any signs of trouble early on.
Ear infections – Floppy ears trap moisture. Clean inside ears weekly. Seek medication if excess wax, discharge or head tilting occurs.
Dental disease – Misaligned teeth may overgrow. Schedule annual dental exams, limit sugary foods. Signs include tooth grinding, reduced eating.
GI stasis – Diet changes can cause digestive shutdown. Offer constant access to hay, monitor eating and pooping closely.
Obesity – Lack of exercise and overfeeding pellets causes dangerous weight gain. Stick to proper portions and encourage activity.
Sore hocks – Ulcerated foot pads from sitting on hard or soiled surfaces. Keep flooring soft and clean.
Respiratory infection – Bunnies are prone to pasteurella bacteria. Vaccinate, avoid drafts, monitor nasal discharge.
Parasites – Mites, fleas and ticks easily infest rabbits outdoors. Use preventatives prescribed by your vet.
Schedule twice annual vet exams to screen for these common issues before they become advanced. Learn your bunny's normal behavior to quickly notice any deviations that could signal illness.
Why Do Rabbits Get Sick?
Rabbits are prey animals, meaning they instinctively hide any signs of illness or injury to appear healthy and avoid attracting predators. This makes it harder for owners to detect when something may be wrong.
Subtle changes in your rabbit's eating patterns, bathroom habits, energy levels, or behavior can indicate illness. So what are some reasons your bunny may get sick?
Diet issues – Too many sugary treats, lack of hay, abrupt food changes
Dental disease – Overgrown molar points or misaligned teeth
Lack of exercise – Obesity and muscle wasting
Loneliness – Not getting enough social interaction and enrichment
Unsanitary housing – Accumulation of urine, feces or ammonia from infrequent cleaning
Extreme temperatures – Heat or cold stress
Parasites – Mites, fleas or intestinal worms
Bacteria – Pasteurella, clostridium, coccidia
Cancer – Uterine, mammary and other masses
Catching issues early makes treatment more likely to succeed. Learn your individual bunny's normal behavior and watch closely for any concerning changes. Trust your instincts if something seems "off"!
Common General Signs of Illness:
Here are some common signs that could indicate your rabbit is feeling under the weather:
Changes in appetite – Eating less or picking at food
Changes in droppings – Smaller/fewer stool, diarrhea, unusual coloration
Low energy – Lethargy, not moving around normally
Hiding behavior – Staying tucked away sleeping more than normal
Irritability – More nipping or aggression
Lack of grooming – Dull coat, not cleaning themselves
Weight changes – Losing weight despite normal diet
Discomfort – Grinding teeth from pain
Discharge – Runny eyes, sneezing, runny nose indicating infection
Difficulty breathing – Respiratory issues
Limping – Sore hocks, arthritis, injury
If you notice any of these signs, call your vet to schedule a checkup right away. Waiting to see if symptoms resolve on their own can allow illness to advance to an emergency. Trust your gut and have any concerns examined promptly!
Specific Signs of Trouble
In addition to general signs of illness, here are some specific symptoms that require urgent veterinary attention:
Head tilt – Can indicate inner ear infection. Needs medication.
Walking in circles – May signal neurological condition.
Abscess – Lumps/swelling on body, especially under chin. Requires antibiotics.
Diarrhea – Loose stool with smelly mucus. Dietary or bacterial cause.
Blood in urine – Can indicate bladder stones or UTI. Requires x-rays and urinalysis by vet.
Bloating – Swollen abdomen from gas. Life threatening condition requires emergency surgery.
Staggering – Loss of balance or coordination may indicate head trauma. Seek care immediately.
Seizures – Violent tremoring. Give space during episode, see vet promptly after.
Fly strike – Flies attracted to soiled fur can quickly cause deadly maggot infestation.
If you notice any of these acute symptoms, call your vet's emergency line if after hours. Seeking prompt veterinary diagnosis and care gives your rabbit the best chance of recovery.
While even well-cared for rabbits may experience illness, there are some key ways to reduce those risks and prevent health issues:
Spay/neuter – Reduces reproductive cancer risk tremendously
Annual exams – Catch any concerns early before advanced
Balanced diet – Limit treats, offer constant hay access
Fresh veggies – Variety provides nutrition. Introduce new items slowly
Clean housing – Spot clean litterbox and change bedding frequently
Bunny proof – Block access to hazards that could cause injury
Social time – Rabbits need interaction and mental stimulation
Proper handling – Support legs/bum properly, never by ears
Vaccines – Discuss shots for pasteurella, myxomatosis and RHDV2 with your vet
Parasite prevention – Use prescription flea/tick/mite treatments
Climate control – Avoid temperature extremes inside home
Grooming – Brush coat, trim nails, clean ears routinely
With attentive daily care and establishing a relationship with a trusted rabbit-savvy vet, you can minimize risks and help ensure your floppy eared friend enjoys excellent health.
Let's Sum it All Up!
To recap everything we covered in this guide to lop eared rabbits:
Lop ear breeds have cute trademark floppy ears but require some extra care to keep healthy. Consider needs like ear cleaning and dental exams before adopting.
Choose rabbit housing carefully to create a safe, clean home base with proper bedding, litterbox setup, hideaways and accessories. Bunny-proof too!
Feed a balanced diet of pellets, unlimited hay, and fresh veggies. Skip sugary fruits and human foods that can cause issues.
Find a trusted rabbit-experienced vet before you need them, and bring your bunny in for regular wellness checks to prevent illness proactively.
Spend lots of time interacting with your rabbit through play, exercise and cuddles. Affectionate lop ears thrive on attention!
Lop eared rabbits can make wonderfully rewarding pets for devoted owners ready to provide attentive long-term care. Do your homework to prepare, and enjoy a floppy earred friend for years to come!