How to Breed a Lionhead Bunny

By Brenna Davis

The lionhead bunny is a fully domesticated rabbit with thick, woolly hair. It is named for the mane-like tufts of hair along its face and neck. Lionheads are highly social and easily tamed, and can make excellent pets. They are prolific breeders and, if left to their own devices, will quickly produce dozens or even hundreds of offspring. Breeding these rabbits itself is not the challenge, but providing adequate care for the offspring can be difficult. You should only breed your lionhead if you are certain you have adequate space for the babies.

Select healthy adult rabbits for breeding. Lionheads should not be crossed with other breeds of rabbits. Rabbit does are ready to mate at 8 months of age, while bucks will be ready to mate at 9 months. Males and females should be housed separately until they are old enough to breed.

Place the male and female in a cage together and wait for them to mate. Lionhead does are receptive to mating when their vulva is slightly swollen and red or purple. The male will mount the female and the two may remain attached for several minutes. Unlike many other small mammals, lionhead rabbits do not have a heat cycle. Instead, females are continually receptive to males, which is why rabbits can produce so many offspring. Copulation induces ovulation, so your female rabbit will ovulate and become pregnant a day or so after mating.

Feed your pregnant doe a healthy diet consisting primarily of hay and fresh greens while she is pregnant. She should be kept separate from all other rabbits, including the buck.

Give the doe a nesting box. These can be purchased at most pet stores. Fill the nest box with hay or straw and allow her to dig in it and complete the nest. The normal gestation period for lionhead rabbits is 31 days, so babies should be born about three days after the female begins nesting. Litters range from three to eight rabbits and babies open their eyes in about 10 days. The doe will naturally wean the babies between 3 and 5 weeks of age.

Separate male and female babies as soon as they are weaned. They will begin attempting to breed from an early age. Pregnancy when a rabbit is too young can cause illnesses and birth defects.