|Common Name:||Britannia Petite|
|Scientific Name:||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Life Span:||6-10 years|
|Country of Origin:||England|
Rabbits possess dynamic and unique personalities; usually, they create loving and close ties with owners. Many can learn and use litterboxes, or come to you when they are called or even learning some tricks. Yes, they are quiet and do not really need a large space and have very little odor. These are some reasons why rabbits are so popular as a pet in Great Britain and the US.
However, before you choose rabbits to be your pet, there are sorts of things you put into consideration. They need your attention and time. They are playful, curious, and very social that keeping them in their cage with very little interaction will make them sad. They require space and time to explore, exercise, and be free for a while. Taking them to the vet is another need. Raising them is a commitment for a long time. Sadly, some are deserted.
For the kids, small rabbits could be a poor choice. Although they are undeniably cute and soft, they get stressed easily and scare due to human activity or noise. They do enjoy being touched and cuddled, although not all but mostly.
As social animals, they love being in duo or trio. They create a bonded pair. The non-bonded ones should be kept in a separate cage. This type needs time and attention from the caretaker. More time with the owner is ideal. When they are outside their cage, they become so curious and roam freely. They could get along with other pets except for dogs and cats. Make the area safe for them. Mentally, some are intelligent and can do tricks and use their litter box. For the litter box, use a non-toxic one and dust-free type. Don’t clump the litter box.
Since their teeth grow continuously, they have this habit of chewing almost anything they see. Protecting your stuff is needed as they might be chewed too.
It was in the 19th century when the breed of Britannia Petite was developed in Britain. They were named for having the polish on their shiny coats. They are cross-breed of small wild rabbits and the Dutch and silver rabbit called as the Belgian Table rabbits. They are not from Poland.
It was in 1884 when this breed was recognized first in the UK. The first breed had red eyes. It was a true albino rabbit. Then, it was imported to the US, where it was improved. There, they were bred to have a compact and rounded body. It was named the American Polish rabbit. The imported ones from the UK were called Britannia Petite in the US.
Meanwhile, in England, the breeders taught their Polish rabbits the right way to pose. Selective breeding came up with rabbits having upright stances and bone structures that were refined. In the British Council Standards, Britannia Petite is still called as the Polish Rabbit. Now, this rabbit is used for exhibition and pet.
In terms of body type, Britannia Petite has a full-arch type. It means the arch starts at the neck’s bases up to the tail’s base. It looks like a quarter circle from a side view while the belly is tucked up under. The head is a wedge shape, and the eyes are protruding. Their ears are short and pointed vertically.
They are very small and have a delicate look resembling a small hare. Their body is slender and quite long. They look tall because of their long front legs. They weigh 2.5 pounds in maximum, making them one of the smallest rabbits as pets. With their small size, they are sometimes thought of as the Netherland Dwarf. Polish rabbits are larger, and the head isn’t round.
Their coats are soft and short, so they don’t require much care. They shed at least 2 times a year. There will be an increase in the stray hair’s amount at home or in your clothes. To deal with it, just brush them once or twice a week using a slicker brush, especially during the heavy shedding times. It is enough that you groom them one time every 2 weeks.
In 1977, the ARBA accepted the red-eyed-white color, but there were colors added, and they were the blue-eyed and the broken patterns of white plus other colors. It also comes with sable, black otter, chestnut agouti, and black.
Britannia Petite is energetic and not skittish or shy. They are active constantly. They love jumping high, run fast, and want to be free. Moreover, they are inquisitive and intelligent, love to explore and climb. Therefore, they need exercise to ease boredom. For someone who wants to cuddle a rabbit, this is not appealing.
In addition, it might not be suitable for first-time owners or seniors. They don’t want being cuddled and want to move around. They are too small for children to hold. Therefore, having them accustomed to handling at an early age is needed. Showing an understanding approach is important. If given rough treatment or any negative experience, they get aggressive towards people. Nonetheless, they are still fantastic to someone who has an understanding of their breed. They are good pets for their small size. They don’t take up much room.
In terms of training, these rabbits are trained for some tricks. They can sit, stay, or do potty training. It will just take time and patience for them to learn tricks. They need time outdoors for family bonding. They enjoy toys too, like a paper towel roll or ball, while others like complex toys.
For their food, give them ¼ cup of pellets after each day, but this would depend on the level of their daily activities. Provide an unlimited amount of fresh hay for good dental condition, weight control, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract health. When giving a treat, separate fruit, and carrot. Carrots contain high sugar, so they should not be given. Meanwhile, spinach, parsley, dandelion leaves are a good source of nutrients. Corn should not be given too, for it has high sugar content. Seeds and iceberg lettuce must be avoided also.
To check your rabbit’s health, it should show a well-fleshed body. You can check by running your hand over its back and feel firm layers of flesh. You should feel the spine and ribs. A prominent spine is an indication of a lack of nutrition.
The male rabbit’s head and body are thicker than the females. The penis is extruded at 2 months’ age. There is a scrotal sac that sits craniolaterally to their penis. The scrotum is hairless and oblong, while the testicles are large, having prominent epididymal fat pads. From 10-14 weeks, their testicles descend. To regulate temperature, the adult male retracts its testes into his abdomen via the inguinal ring.
The adult does have folds of skin under their chins. Their ovaries are elongated. Their oviducts are so long and coiled. The duplex uterus has 2 separated uterine horns divided along the length. It has no uterine body. These two horns work with two crevices forming a vagina. It is long and saccular. On the vagina’s dorsal wall, the urethra enters while on the ventral surface is the clitoris. The vulva is triangular.
Does are induced ovulators. They have no regular cycle. Ovulation happens after the mating. If there is mating, the female varies in receptivity, and the ovarian follicles will regress, and new follicles will mature. The receptivity period is 5 to14 days.
Both sexes are very territorial. To mate, put the doe in the male’s enclosure. Then, the buck follows the doe, hums softly as he sniffs and licks her for 30 seconds, at least. He might spray the doe with his urine.
The doe may hop in circles of flattening herself on the floor. Mating starts when the male grasps the doe and by her nape using his teeth. Then, he mounts the doe with ejaculations after. Then the male squeaks or cries before he falls on his side or back. The doe tends to kick or bite or run away.
After mating, the ovulation takes place 10-13 hours later. Several mating is allowed to stimulate ovulation. Does should have 3 litters a year.
They have a short gestation period of 31 days. It ranges from 28-35 days. The litter varies from 4-12 kits. Rabbits suffer from embryonic mortality. Some reasons for this are drug use, infection, trauma, heredity, environmental stress, and poor nutrition.
Nesting starts for a few days or hours before parturition. The hair epilates easily as the estrogen level increases, and the progesterone falls. The doe plucks her hair in the abdomen, dewlap, and sides. She uses this fur to make a nest. Kindling happens in the morning for 30 minutes.
The newborn weighs 40-50 grams. They are hairless, having sealed eyes and ears. They are not brooded by the doe. Their fur grows on day 10. They depend on the heat from each other. They rely on their sense of smell. They recognize their mother by the smell of her feces. There is a pheromone released near the nipple. This stimulates sucking. Mothers leave a scent on their kits.
It does have 8 mammary glands. Males have no nipples. Does milk is rich? She can nurse them once or twice every day. The milk has high-fat content and low in lactose plus high protein. Does tend to drink more water when lactating.
On day 18-21, the kits start leaving their nest and start to eat solid food. weaning is completely done at day 42. Doe is taken out of the enclosure to make the kits become familiar with their enclosure. weaning is critical as they are prone to illness. The milk protects the kits, but once it is stopped, bacteria enter the stomach.
Before they get sexually mature, wild rabbits live alone. At 3-4 months’ age, they form bonds and make a social hierarchy. Males are more solitary. To determine sexual maturity, their body weight is important. Juveniles reach puberty after a fast growth. Smaller rabbits have faster development and get mature earlier. Females mature first than males. There is an optimal production of sperm at 40-70 days after reaching their puberty.
Adolescent rabbits become aggressive and territorial. They honk, mount, hump, chin, and circle. They urinate outside their litter box to mark territory, although they have been trained to use the litter box. Does chew during the nesting. Neutering improves pet quality.
Despite being small, they are far more energetic than the other dwarf rabbits. Then, they should have an enclosure fit for medium-sized ones in order to give them enough room for fun.
For indoor enclosures, you can have a wired one having a solid bottom. Putting them outside will bring them near their predators. Then, a waterproof and predator type proof of enclosure is the best. Also, let the enclosure have good air ventilation. Keep it under a shade too.
Clean the bedding and get rid of droppings. Replace everything that has to be changed. Take them out for some time to play in a safe area. It will help them burn calories, for they are so energetic and love cuddling. They want to bond with their owner and sunbathe. Get to introduce them with other bunnies too while they are young. If they are inside your home, secure all the wires, plugs, and even your furniture for they might chew and get electrocuted.
Common Rabbit Diseases
Rabbits experience common health problems and diseases, but these can be prevented before it gets worse. Owners should understand the needs and signs of sickness. Careful and close observation is vital. Here are some of them: hairballs, snuffles, overgrown teeth, calicivirus, uterine tumors, and myxomatosis.
Owners must know that the rabbit’s teeth grow continuously for their whole life. If they don’t grind their teeth by eating fiber, then their molars would form like a sharp spike, which can hurt their tongue and cheeks. Then eventually, they will not eat. The incisors in front will grow, which will prevent their mouths from being closed. They will not eat then die.
Give them food rich in fiber like grass or oaten hay. Then, the rest would be pellets and the green leafy ones.
To treat, burring the teeth flat and general anesthetic is the way to correct an overgrown tooth.
This is transferred through close contact of a healthy rabbit to an infected one. The bacteria cause discharge, squinting, and redness in the eyes or nose. It can affect the ears and bring out abscess and infections in the urinary tract.
When your rabbit’s immune system is affected by a new diet or overcrowding, the bacteria get stimulated in the nasal tract. Thus, stress has to be reduced, and new ones have to be quarantined.
Giving antibiotics in repeated course or surgery to get rid of the abscess.
Rabbits are self-groomers. They tend to eat their fur. Knowing that they cannot vomit, the hair cannot pass through their gut, which will be formed like a ball. The rabbit will not eat and go lethargic.
To prevent, feed them with enough fiber to help the hairballs pass through their gat.
Surgery is the treatment needed sometimes, and medication for the gut to keep working is another option.
Does are prone to this. If an un-desexed doe gets sick, she can have this. Signs are cysts in the mammary gland, aggressive behavior, vaginal discharge with the bloodstain, and lethargy.
Desex them at 4-6 months.
Desex to stop or prevent cancer from spreading.
This is transferred by mosquitoes or fleas, as well as infected rabbits. There will be swelling and eye, nose discharge.
Buy a rabbit hunch that is mosquito proof. Take your rabbit inside so mosquitoes will not bite them.
This is fatal.
It is spread by mosquitoes too or even flies. Signs are fever and lethargy or sudden death. Most rabbits show no signs. Other signs are restlessness and poor appetite. there will be blood clotting and damage in the liver.
Vaccinate your rabbit. Move them away from wild and domesticated rabbits. Don’t feed grass as it might be contaminated by the wild rabbits. Wash your hands before you hold them. Have an insect control. Isolate the infected one.
No treatment is available.
Availability: Where to Get One
You can get these bunnies from rescue centers, trusted breeders, or various rabbitries.
Caring for a House Rabbit
- Get a large rabbit for your rabbits moving. Give your rabbit a safe place. Let him feel secure and safe in this cage. Buy enough bedding for the cage’s bottom. You can try hay, straw, and shredded paper. For wood shavings, don’t use pine, cedar, and scented ones.
- Set up litter boxes. Put a cover on the boxes. Come up with various types like wood shavings, silica cat litter. Don’t clump the litters. This can be swallowed by your rabbit.
- For the food bowl, use a ceramic one. It is ideal since rabbits like tipping their food bowl. The sides should be high but not low enough for comfortable eating.
- Provide a water bowl or dishes.
- Give them lots of hay. Hays will be useful for their digestion. Timothy hay is ideal for them. You can line your litter box with hay too. In addition, hays are digging spots too. They somehow sort of entertainment for them like hiding their treats.
- To supplement hay, offer pellets, veggies, and fruits. Don’t give too many pellets to avoid an overweight rabbit. Avoid fruits having high sugar content. You can always ask your vet for the right diet. if your rabbit is healthy, they don’t need vitamins. Carrots should be served in moderation.
- Give various toys for entertainment. For a chew toy, the applewood tree is good. Clean it before giving.
Choosing Your Rabbit
- To care for a rabbit needs energy and time. despite being a low maintenance pet, they still require money, time, and care. They need food, water, toys, litter boxes, and your attention most especially.
- Allot 3 hours a day for playing with your rabbit outside the cage. Human interaction is important. You can introduce them to other rabbits but house them separately.
- Choose which kind you like. There are various breeds and sizes to choose from. Choose if you want a male or female.
- You can check breeders, pet stores, or rescue centers.
- Check pet stores, rescue centers, and breeders to find a rabbit. If you want to raise a kit, you should know how to care for it, for there are guidelines set. You can ask the owner about the temperament.
- You can choose a friendly kit. Look into the parent’s health, size, temperament, and color to have an idea of how the kits will grow. Choose one that sniffs and hops going to you. check the health condition too as indicated by the following: bright and clear eyes, clean ears, smell-free, untangled and cleaned fur, no parasites on the skin, no clumping issues, excited and responded, no issues in dental, hair loss, nasal discharge, and illness.
- If you want to be sure about the temperament, get an adult. You can find them in rescue centers. Don’t get the aggressive ones, and most importantly, they must be healthy.
- Spayed or neutered are mostly found in the shelters.
- Choose your favorite. Find a good match for you. at first, they will be shy or nervous.
Bonding with Your Rabbit
- After you bring it home, observe it. See how it interacts with its environment. Observe anything. At first, it could just sit, eat, and lie down. It is still under adjustment. Leave it in the cag, and next time, try to talk with a low voice.
- Then, give it some time to out of its cage. Close all the windows and doors. Later, open the cage’s door and wait for it to come out or hop.
- Allow interaction to happen. When it sniffs you, give some veggies. You can talk and don’t scare it.
- Wait for it to approach you. when it ignores the veggie, put it down and get back to what you are doing. Offer another after.
- After eating, pet your bunny. Stroke gently as you give food or even after. Wait for it to approach you again. Don’t run after it once it runs. If it bites you, loudly squeal for it to know it is painful.
- Don’t give up being close with your bunny. Head butts indicate seeking attention. Do the same process until it gets familiar with you.
Keeping Your Rabbit Healthy and Safe
- Find an experienced vet. Take your bunny for regular checkups.
- Handle your bunny the right way. Learn how to pick it right. To hold, scoop it with an arm with your other hand under. Move it near your body to support.
- Improper picking can lead to jumping or injury.
- Ensure your rabbit’s safety by covering or remove anything that can harm your bunny. For instance, are electrical wires, cords, and more.
- Don’t cuddle them too much. They don’t like this. They feel like being hunted by birds. Be careful of nipping, once you don’t stop stroking or hugging them too much.
- Educate your kids on the right way of interacting with the bunny. Tell them not to scream or yell at them. Don’t let the kids chase them. Rabbits will feel threatened. Teach them to be gentle.
Selecting a Show Rabbit
Picking a Type of Rabbit
- Get yourself the breed standard book from the ARBA or the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Know all the standards of the recognized breed to let you figure out which breed you like.
- Consider your accommodation and expertise. Small ones are for beginners, for they are handled easily, and they don’t take up much space and food.
- For starters, don’t get dwarf or the full-arch breeds. Pick what suits your knowledge and ability.
Finding a Reputable Breeder
- Find for breeders online. Check for websites or breeders near you.
- Contact the breeder. Tell them what type you want, including the age, size, variety, breed, and sex. Get the best stock you can.
- Ask the breeder’s help to teach you how to raise. Ask everything. You need a skilled breeder.
Selecting a Specific Rabbit
- Assess the rabbit. Check on the color, quality. Feel their bodies. See if it has a good temperament. Rabbits with poor temperament are hard to deal with. Don’t get young ones to show.
- See if it is friendly, does it approach you, is it glossy and shiny, does it flip
- Inspect the fur. It should snap back into its position after being stroked backward. It should be soft, no mats or knots, and no bald area.
- The face should be clean, with no discharge and bright. The nose should not be runny. Teeth should not overlap, and ears are wax and parasite free.
- The body should be firm and strong, not crooked or lumpy or bony. Legs should be straight. Toenails should all be present.
- Check the health condition. It should have quiet breathing. Tools should be dry and firm. A urination stain on the feet means does not mean sickness.
- Know the pedigree. Pedigree is needed for ARBA registration.
- Have it tattooed. A letter sequence or number is needed in the ARBA shows.
How long do Polish dwarf rabbits live?
Britannia petite can live for 6 to 10 years.
Do Polish Rabbits make good pets?
Yes, they do. They have large and bold eyes and a finely built body. Their personality is their best trait. They like being cuddled. They are loving and gentle.
How much should a Polish rabbit weight?
It should weigh 900 grams to 1.6 kilograms.
Can Polish rabbits live outside?
Yes, they can, but it is ideal for them to be kept outside to protect them from predators.
What colors do Polish rabbits come in?
They come in six varieties. They are the ruby eyed white, the blue-eyed white, broken pattern, black, chocolate, and blue.
How many times do rabbits mate a day?
Twice a day is ideal or twice a week too.
Can you keep two female rabbits together if one is pregnant?
Yes, given that they are both neutered for them to stay harmoniously together.
Should rabbits be kept in pairs?
Yes, they should. They are sociable, and needing another rabbit is just so good. Keeping them from birth is even better.
Do indoor rabbits need vaccinations?
Both indoor and outdoor needs vaccination to protect them from viruses and diseases.
Is it better to have two rabbits or one?
The ideal way is keeping them in pairs.
Why are my two rabbits fighting?
Their hormones make them territorial that they fight each other.
Do rabbits need to be wormed?
Yes. Do every 3 months.
Is spaying a rabbit dangerous?
No. in fact, it protects them from uterine cancer.
Is rabbit poop toxic to humans?
No. despite having some tapeworm or roundworms in their poop, their waste does not transmit the disease to people.
How to know if a rabbit has worms?
There will be small and white worms in their feces, and blood comes with it too sometimes.
Does rabbit poop have parasites?
Yes, it does. It is passed on their stool.
How do you deworm a rabbit?
Put piperazine citrate in the water for 2 weeks. Let your rabbit drink it.
What parasites can rabbits get?
They get fleas, mites, lice, ringworms, and other internal parasites.