Monday, February 21, 2011

Oryctolagus cuniculus (Havana )

Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus

Country / Place of origin: Holland

History: Havana Rabbits are said to be descendants of Dutch Rabbits and first bred in the late 1800s in Holland. They were brought to the United States in 1916.

Appearance: Havanas are considered compact because of their short, round bodies. The ears are short and upright. The fur is short, soft and dense, and strikingly dark in color, which are black, blue, and chocolate brown.

Average weight: 4 - 6 lbs.

Lifespan: 5 - 10 years

Grooming: Havanas require simple brushing at least once a week to remove loose and excess fur and prevent matting of the coat.

Rabbits naturally groom each other by licking the ears, nose, top of the head, and around the eyes.

Diet: Like other rabbits, Havana Rabbits are herbivorous. The main ingredient of their diet is hay, preferably Timothy grass hay, which is rich in the fiber needed to prevent diarrhea, obesity, and hairballs. Leafy vegetables, though also essential to a rabbit’s health, should be given sparingly to prevent digestive disorders. For variety, treats may be given (although occasionally because of potentially high starch or sugar content) such as carrots, peaches, plum, apples, papaya, pears, strawberries, and other fruits. Commercial rabbit pellets also add nutrients to the daily diet. Fresh water should always be available, either from a sipper bottle or in a stable water bowl.

Housing: Havana Rabbits are best kept indoors to protect them from extreme temperatures, predators, and other outdoor dangers. They should be allowed to roam and exercise, preferably where they can get sunlight and fresh air. Extension hutches, exercise pens or lawn enclosures are recommended for safe outdoor exposure. If kept in a cage, the enclosure should be at least five times the size of the rabbit with plenty of room to stretch and stand upright. Wire mesh flooring should be avoided because the rabbit’s feet could get caught in them. A hide box or sleeping quarters should be provided for times when the rabbit needs to hide or sleep in private. Baby toys and interesting items should also be available for entertainment.

Rabbits can be taught to use a litter box. To avoid health hazards caused by toxic wood shavings or clumping kitty litter, only organic litter should be used such as paper, citrus, or wood pulp. Rabbits may also be allowed to roam inside the house as long as the areas where they are free to explore are “rabbit-proofed” for safety.

Health issues: Like other small mammals, Havana Rabbits can be susceptible to colds and viral infections. Exposure to draft, sudden changes in temperature and stress can lower the rabbit’s resistance to sickness. Rabbits are also vulnerable to conjunctivitis (a bacterial infection of the eyelids caused by smoke, dust, and fumes) and ear mites. Intestinal ailments like coccidiosis (parasites propagated by unsanitary conditions), bloat, and hairball obstructions are also common in rabbits.

Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Havana Rabbits are calm, sweet tempered, and social, getting along with other domesticated pets like cats, dogs, and guinea pigs. They are best kept in pairs or trios but preferably one per cage to minimize injury from occasional infighting. They are most active at sunset and at daybreak. Because they are timid, easily stressed, and physically fragile, they are not recommended as pets for small children. Havanas are known to be one of the best pet rabbits because of their very gentle demeanor.

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