The Netherland Dwarf is the smallest of the 45 breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, weighing in at a mere 2 lbs when fully grown.
The digestive system of a Netherland Dwarf is sensitive, even by bunny standards. A constant supply of fresh water is a must; rabbits cannot absorb water from their food. A gravity water bottle attached to the inside of their cage will prevent spills and contamination. Also, a constant supply of timothy hay provides a great source of fiber and allows for all day nibbling. Alfalfa could be used but is higher in calcium and protein and lower in fiber. Too much calcium can lead to serious kidney and bladder problems. About 250 mg a day is sufficient for a mature Netherland Dwarf.
Rabbit chow should be limited to about 1 ounce per pound in weight daily, unless you have a pregnant or nursing doe, or a baby less than four months old, in which case a constant supply should be provided. Only buy a month's supply of chow at a time as the pellets can spoil or mold, causing illness. They can also lose nutrients important to your rabbit's physical well-being. Pet rabbits do well with a pellet that is 18-20% fiber, 14-15% protein and 2-3% fat. Once you find a good brand, stick with it. Frequently changing their food can cause dangerous digestive problems.
For rabbits over six months in age, you can supplement their basic diet with raw fruits and vegetables in quantities of about a teaspoon at a time. Introduce new foods over a couple of weeks to give their systems time to adapt. Kitchen scraps work great here, but foods close to spoiling are better for the compost pile than your bunny's belly.
Good choices are apples, grapes, pears, oranges, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, papayas, pineapples, melons, mangoes, peaches, tomatoes, peas, beans, kale, carrot tops, mustard greens, dandelion greens, sugar beets, parsnips, parsley and potato peelings. Take care to remove any seeds or pits first.
Never feed your bunny lettuce. Lettuce contains lactucarium, which can cause severe diarrhea. Diarrhea can kill a rabbit. Romaine lettuce has the lowest amounts of lactucarium of the common garden varieties. Other foods to avoid include cabbage, parsnips and tomato leaves.
While every rabbit has its own unique personality, they and their owners can enjoy hours of interaction through play and physical contact. If you decide a Netherland Dwarf is the bunny for you, preparing a suitable habitat will be the first step in its overall care.
The Netherland Dwarf is the smallest of the 45 breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, weighing in at a mere 2 lbs when fully grown. But they are hardy little fellows and do quite well housed inside or out, even in winter.
A Dwarf cage needs to be at least three square feet, but bigger is better. Creating multiple levels connected with ramps is an easy way to increase the overall size of an enclosure without sacrificing floor space.
Outdoor housing must provide protection from the wet and cold of winter and heat of summer. A hutch made of heavy wood with wire sides and a waterproof roof, raised off the ground, is ideal. Even though your rabbit will be safe inside its hutch, it can still be scared to death by a menacing predator. Include an enclosed area inside the hutch to give your bunny a place to hide when scared, or just to get out of the weather. Bedding material should be provided in the form of wood shavings and/or clean straw. Indoor housing needn't be as utilitarian, but must still provide a safe, secure and comfortable home for your pet.
Traditionally, wire-bottomed enclosures have been used to allow droppings to fall into a tray for easier cleaning. Wire cages can be hard on bunny feet, however, and a solid area should be provided for comfortable resting. Alternatively, rabbits can be litter-box trained. Never use clumping cat litter or cedar chips, both of which can be harmful if ingested. Food, hay and water containers should be cage mounted to avoid spilling and contamination.
Regardless of how luxurious the accommodations, however, your bunny will still need room to romp and roam outside of its cage. Care must be taken to ensure your rabbit's safety anywhere you allow it to run. Inside spaces must be bunny-proofed. Outdoor spaces must be properly enclosed.
For more information visit: The American Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Club: www.andrc.com/
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