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Lionhead Rabbit Care Sheet

Lionhead Rabbit Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Lionhead Rabbit
Scientific Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Life Span: 7 to 10 years
Size (Adult): Small, mini
Weight (Adult) 2.5 to 3.5 pounds
Habitat: Human homes, gardens and pet shops
Body Shape: Compact
Country of Origin: Belgium

Physical Description

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The Lionhead rabbit is a breed of rabbit that is recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association or ARBA and the British Rabbit Council or the BRC. The name comes from its wooly mane that is similar to a lion’s mane.

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What Are The Different Types of Rabbits?

An adult Lionhead rabbit has a high head mount, a compact body, short and well-furred ears at 3 inches, and has a weight of no more than 5 pounds.

The Lionhead has a small and compact body size with a bold head that is not round on all sides. It comes with a well-developed muzzle. The Lionhead’s legs have a medium length and have a medium-sized bone structure. According to breeder’s standards, the ears of this breed should not exceed 3 inches while the mane is at least 2 inches long, and it should form a full circle around the rabbit’s head and turns to a V at the neck.

The mane may become a fringe between the rabbit’s ears, and this makes a wool cap. The coat is luxurious with a normal rollback characteristic.  The coat is rollback with a medium length on the saddle. There are some rabbits with transitional wool along their flanks and wool on the cheeks and chest areas.

There are two kinds of manes. The first one is a single mane on the ears, chin, and chest, and a double mane, which is similar to the single mane but thicker and has wool on their flanks, which may look like skirts. The length of the individual hairs in a Lionhead rabbit does not exceed 2 inches.

The colors of the Lionhead are based on ARBA standards. These can be black, chocolate, turquoise, blue, blue point, ruby-eyed white, blue-eyed white, chestnut agouti, silver marten, seal, smoke pearl, sable point, pointed white and Siamese sable. The rabbit should not have any markings, according to ARBA. 

History of the Breed

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The Lionhead rabbit started in Belgium and was the product of a mix of a Swiss Fox and a Netherland Dwarf rabbit breed. The result was a rabbit with a mutation that caused hair to grow around its head and flanks. This gene was called the “mane gene.”

The Lionhead rabbit made its way to the United States in the 1990s, and it was only in 2014; it was accepted as part of ARBA. Meanwhile, the BRC has recognized this charming breed in 2002. As of 2014, the Lionhead rabbit is eligible to compete in a category known as the Best in Show to be close to earning the Grand Champion.

Fast Facts

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The Lionhead rabbit is not as calm as other pet rabbit breeds; this is why you must train your pet early. If your pet rabbit is skittish, do not force it to warm up to you the first time you get it from the shop. Allow it to naturally trust you as his owner. Use treats food and a lot of pats and cuddles, and soon, your shy and nervous pet will soon become a friendly and outgoing rabbit.

Reproduction

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The Lionhead rabbit is a domesticated rabbit that breeds and mates like a regular captive rabbit. Usually, this rabbit can breed all year round and may be ready to breed in just 8 months. Male rabbits may be ready at only 5 months.

Forced breeding is done by owners who want to breed baby rabbits. This is done by introducing the female to the male inside its cage. Breeders say that this is the best way to breed captive rabbits and increases breeding success as well. Lionhead female does will first run as the male bucks follows her around sniffing and trying to mount her.

The female may give in and just lay in the cage so the male can smell her better and thrust in her. Mating happens swiftly, and soon, the act is over, and the female may become pregnant in just 24 hours. After a day or two, remove the female from the cage and place her inside her own cage and place hay and plenty of water and food.

The gestation period for rabbits is 38 days, and soon, the female will be ready to give birth. She will avoid drinking and eating during this time and may also be restless as she finds a suitable nesting area. Once she finds a good spot, she will use hay and even her own fur to make the nest. It will be done in time for the birth of her kits.

The female rabbit will give birth to 3 to 5 babies, which are usually born without fur, are blind and deaf. The babies will need their mother for their food, but the mother will only nurse them in the evening. She will come back night after night until day 10 to 13 to wean her babies. The baby rabbits will open their eyes in 5 days and will be out of the nest in 10 days.

Fun Facts

Some Lionhead rabbits look cute and pristine, especially when these are groomed very well. But when left alone and uncared for like the image above, the lovely mane can become dirty, matted, and could make the rabbit look old. It is also important to groom this rabbit, especially during the molting period, to prevent wool blocks. The rabbit can swallow their hair while the groom and the fur can block their stomachs and intestine, causing severe medical conditions.

Personality and Behavior

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The Lionhead rabbit is an energetic kind of breed and is also affectionate and playful when it is trained well. They may good pets and may love to be picked up and held by their human handlers if your pet has learned to trust you.

When a Lionhead rabbit has been trained well, it can roam around in their cages and may even chase after their human caretakers. Also, their small size makes them good apartment pets. Once this rabbit is already comfortable and trusts its owner very much, it can kick back and relax. They will enjoy being tiny lap dogs and may even enjoy watching TV with their owners.

Comparable Breeds

The Lionhead rabbit is comparable with two rabbit breeds like the Swiss Fox and the Netherland dwarf rabbit. The Netherland dwarf is a dwarf rabbit with compact body shape. It weighs less than 2.5 pounds and a lifespan of up to 12 years. It is quite skittish, shy, quiet, and sweet, making it a good rabbit pet for singles and for people who live in apartments or small spaces.

Meanwhile, the Swiss Fox is a medium-sized rabbit breed with compact body shape. It weighs less than 7.5 pounds and can live up to 8 years. It has a thick fur but does not have a mane like the Lionhead. It is best for first-time owners because it is easy to care for, friendly, docile, smart, and calm.

Care of Lionhead Rabbits

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Taking care of a Lionhead Rabbit is similar to caring for other breeds. An owner has to provide the correct diet, the right enclosure, rabbit companionship, and correct, professional medical treatment.

A vital part of a rabbit’s diet is hay. It is the bulk of a rabbit’s diet, but you may also provide rabbit pellets because this has added vitamins and minerals for your rabbit’s health. You may give small pieces of vegetables and fruits for a healthy and nutritious rabbit diet.

Provide your pets with fresh water and hay. Change water daily and place it in a heavy, shallow dish. Hay is also an important part of a rabbit’s daily diet because it is rough and will keep their digestive tracts healthy and regular.

Make sure that your pet is eating the right and safe kind of food. Protect it from pesticides, toxins, and herbicides with organic fruits and vegetables. Younger rabbits need alfalfa hay because it has high levels of calcium, which is a mineral needed for growing bones. Also, adult Lionhead Rabbits will eat legume hay.

Lionhead Rabbits are cute, lovable but this is gradually developed in a pet. You must train it well and interact with your pet rabbit daily. Rabbits are social animals and will need companions aside from interacting with their owners. Rabbits with constant companions and regular interactions with their owners are healthier, happier, and have well-rounded personalities. 

Lionhead Rabbits very meticulous when it comes to grooming. These will groom themselves to the point that it will take hours to do so. Rabbits may also be seen grooming one another, and experts to say that this or a way to bond or socialize with other rabbits. Also, mother rabbits groom her kits when she is still in her nest. But this behavior will not last, as she will soon be up and about to return only in the evenings to feed her offspring.

Lionhead Rabbits are active in the daytime and tend to sleep in the evenings. So, feed your pet Lionhead Rabbit in the morning when they are most active. Captive rabbits sleep 8 hours a day, in a huddled position to keep warm. When constructing their enclosure, make a large area where all the rabbits can eat, play, and sleep.

Supplies and Cages

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The enclosure for Lionhead Rabbits should be made of wire with a strong frame. The bottom must be removable where the rabbit’s droppings will easily fall. This makes it easier to clean the cage daily or weekly. The floor of the enclosure should be made of soft bedding so that it is comfortable for your rabbits.

Install a rabbit hay feeder on the side of the enclosure. Fill this with hay so your rabbit can eat when it feels hungry. For bedding, use hay, wood pellets, or pelleted bedding. Do not use flimsy and printed materials like newspapers, paper towels, or brown paper bags.

To maintain the cage, remove your pets and secure them in a safe and clean enclosure. Never use household cleaners or bathroom cleaning products because these can harm your pet. Use natural cleaning products such as white vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice. These are more effective and can remove smells and stains too.

Have a separate or extra cage if you plan to breed Lionhead Rabbits. Baby rabbits are born naked, deaf, and blind and need a warm enclosure to keep them at the right temperatures. Use a smaller cage with a cage lamp or lighting to keep babies warm, dry, and safe from predators.

Also, Lionhead Rabbits will love chewing on things, anything that they can lay their eyes on. If these are kept indoors, these will chew on anything made of wood like wooden walls, fixtures, and wooden furniture. This can also chew on electrical wiring and may suffer from electrocution. To avoid these accidents, provide hay or chew toys in their cage together with their food. Rabbit-proof your home before releasing your pet rabbit from its cage.

Health Concerns

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A Lionhead Rabbit is one of the healthiest breeds and is not affected by a specific disease. This could be due to its extensive breeding for show.  The most common conditions that the Lionhead Rabbit may be affected with are pests due to their thick and lovely mane and impressive coat. Pests such as ticks and mites may also be naturally found in their environment.

Meanwhile, the Lionhead is not immune to common rabbit diseases. You must monitor your rabbit’s health and temperament because any change could be a sign of an illness or medical condition. So, as early as your pet is able to open its eyes, take it to the vet for important vaccinations and tests.

Your vet will conduct basic tests to assess the overall health and development of your rabbit. He will also rule out digestive system problems because small rabbits could be prone to different health conditions that affect the gut, such as enteritis, bloat, and stasis. Rabbits, which are less than two months of age, are commonly affected.

Watch out for ear or fur parasites such as mites, fleas, and ticks. Rabbits that are affected by these usually have poor hygiene and are in dirty surroundings and enclosures. Cleanliness is next to good health when taking care of rabbits.

Be mindful of any signs of illness such as poor appetite, nasal and eye discharges, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. Other unusual signs are unsteady gait, restlessness, teeth grating, and sleeping for extended periods and are usually signs of a serious condition.

Very important in taking care of rabbits and other household and domesticated pets is deworming. Your Lionhead Rabbit must be treated for worms twice a year and should be done during springtime and fall. This applies especially to rabbits that are from the wild or are bred from wild parents

All rabbit breeds should be dewormed. With a small amount of deworming paste, place this in the rabbit’s mouth. The rabbit will lick and swallow the medication. Consult your vet for the best dosage and when to deworm again.

Dental Care

A rabbit’s teeth will grow until it is an adult, and sometimes, their teeth can grow to extreme lengths, which can pierce the mouth and gums, causing pain and too much discomfort. As an owner, you must make sure that the rabbit’s teeth do not overgrow.

You can help by giving offering hay because this grinds the rabbit’s teeth down naturally as it vigorously chews. You may place small blocks of wood, wooden baskets, or other accessories that can help fill the rabbit’s teeth. Check your rabbit’s teeth regularly to save on expensive dental bills.

Spaying or Neutering

Rabbits are very promiscuous, and responsible pet owners need to control this by spaying or neutering their pets. Spaying and neutering are done when the rabbits are still young. Some vets perform the surgery when rabbits are six months old to be safe. The bucks are also neutered at a young age to reduce aggression. Usually, vets neuter bucks as young as three months, but your vet may consider neutering later. For any questions about spaying and neutering, and for post-surgical care, consult your vet.

Grooming

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Lionhead Rabbits have very luxurious furs and thus may need regular brushing daily. Brush its fur to keep it clean, shiny, and free from pests. Groom using a small brush at least once or twice a week. You must help your pet avoid wool block by grooming it, especially during the molting period.

Fur can accumulate in the digestive tract causing blockage and more complications if you do not help your rabbit groom. And if your pet is very dirty, do not give it a bath because this can stress it. You may use a damp towel to spot clean the dirt. Just wipe the rabbit down with a damp towel and use a dry one afterward.

Trim your rabbit’s nails and check for overgrown teeth. Clean its ears and inspect for mites and ticks that usually stay hidden under its very fuzzy ears.

Availability – Where to Get One?

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The price of buying a Lionhead Rabbit may depend on where you are getting it: from a breeder or a retailer. The price will also depend on whether you are getting a Lionhead for a pet or for show. Expect the price to vary depending on gender, color, size, coat quality, and overall appearance.

If you are searching for a reliable breeder, make sure that you are getting one that is healthy with no genetic disorder. Purchase Lionhead rabbits from reliable breeders who raise healthy rabbits. You will find this breed in trade fairs and events and from shows and contests sponsored by the ARBA and other associations and clubs for the breed.

How to Care for a Lionhead Rabbit

This is a summary of how to care for a Lionhead Rabbit. Providing the correct diet, housing, companionship, and medical care of a Lionhead is similar to that of any kind or breed of domesticated rabbit.

The main food of captive rabbits is hay. Hay is important to grind their every-growing teeth, to keep their digestive system regular, and to maintain a healthy gut. You may also give rabbits pellets, vegetables, and fruits for a well-rounded diet. You may also give them food that is found in their natural habitats such as grasses, twigs, roots, and seeds.

Always keep fresh water and hay inside the rabbit’s cage. You must place water in a large, heavy shallow dish and change this twice daily. The dish is heavy, so your rabbits will not knock it over as it moves inside the cage.

Captive-bred rabbits can only adopt a calm, friendly, and docile temperament when you take time and effort to train it. It would help if you train and interact with your pet daily. Rabbits are social animals and will need a rabbit companion or companions. So, if you do not have space, resources, and patience to care for more rabbits, then consider another pet. A rabbit will only grow healthy, have a good temperament, and a docile behavior when it socializes with companion rabbits and with its owner.

And most importantly, take your pet to the vet. It needs regular checks, vaccinations, tests, and a clean bill of health before you can place it in a common enclosure and before your family can hold and interact with it. Understand the different signs of illness, and for any symptom, consult your vet at once.

FAQs

Where do Lionhead Rabbits live?

Lionhead Rabbits are domesticated rabbits, and thus, these live in human areas and commercial establishments, including pet stores, breeding kennels, and inhuman homes as a pet. For Lionhead Rabbit pets, these are housed in large cages indoors or outdoors in groups for socialization and companionship.

What happens when the teeth of Lionhead Rabbit grow longer?

When the teeth of the rabbit grow longer, these can pierce the rabbit’s mouth and gums, causing a lot of pain, and this can also affect its appetite. Your pet rabbit must see a dentist on a regular basis. You can also help by feeding it hay since this can grind their teeth shorter as the animal chews.

How often does a pet rabbit visit the vet?

Rabbits should get a checkup at least once a year. Young rabbits should get vaccinated against rabbit diseases early, and they need to have an initial visit when they are just a few weeks old.

Can you keep a Lionhead Rabbit as a pet?

Yes, you can keep the Lionhead Rabbit as a pet because of its friendly and sweet behavior. It is a good pet for families but not for families with very small children because of the size of this breed.

Should you rescue a wild rabbit from the forest?

Do not pick a wild animal from the forest. You cannot tame a wild rabbit, and you will not be able to make it a pet because it will remain wild. If you find an injured rabbit, you may call animal services to rescue it.

Are Lionhead Rabbits endangered?

No, Lionhead Rabbits are not endangered because this is a domesticated breed. There is a large population of Lionhead Rabbits from local and international breeders as in pet shops and in human homes as pets.

Can Lionhead Rabbits swim?

Yes, Lionhead Rabbits can swim just like other rabbit breeds won’t swim as good as other water animals. However, most rabbits don’t want to get wet and will not like a bath since water can stress them.

How do you tame a rabbit?

A wild rabbit cannot be tamed, and we don’t recommend this since you can get bitten or getting hurt. You can train a captive-bred rabbit instead because these have a docile behavior and are calmer than wild rabbits. However, these may need constant handling and interaction with their handlers to remain happy and healthy even when in captivity.

Are Lionhead Rabbits carnivorous?

No, these rabbits are not carnivorous and are, in fact, herbivores, which means that these won’t eat meat. It will only consume plants or plant parts such as roots, bark, leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, seeds, and many more.

What do Lionhead Rabbits eat?

Lionhead Rabbits are herbivorous, and this means that it will eat plants, commercially prepared rabbit food or pellets, vegetables, and fruits.

Do Lionhead Rabbits eat fruits and vegetables?

Yes, Lionhead Rabbits can eat fruits and vegetables. And aside from these, you may also feed your Lionhead Rabbits pellets or rabbit food, which contain nutrients that your pet needs for proper growth.

Will Lionhead Rabbits eat their poop?

Yes, just like all rabbit breeds, Lionhead Rabbits will eat their poop because these still have nutrients in them. But after eating their droppings once, they won’t do it the second time. It is still unknown why rabbits eat their poop, and you can prevent this by removing their droppings as soon as you see them.

Can you leave a Lionhead Rabbits indoors to play inside your home?

You may allow a rabbit to stay indoors but only under constant supervision. You must use a portable perimeter fence to cover areas that the rabbit can’t go. You have to rabbit-proof your home before you let your rabbits lose in your home.

Do you place a Lionhead Rabbit’s cage indoors or outdoors?

The location of a rabbit’s cage may depend on your preference. You may place the cage of your pet indoors to protect it from the sun, heat, and rain, but most indoor cages are small and may not be enough for an adult Lionhead Rabbit. When you place your cage outdoors, the rabbits may need to bear the cold, but at least they will have a large area for playing, running, and socializing.

How do you clean a Lionhead Rabbit’s cage?

Place the rabbit in a separate clean cage. Remove the pan where the poop is found and dispose of the droppings carefully. Use a hose, a brush and cleaning product, and clean the walls, floor, accessories, and toys. Always make sure that everything is dry before placing your pet in the cage.

How do you take care of baby Lionhead Rabbits?

If you want to breed Lionhead Rabbits, put the kits in a warm and comfortable enclosure. Feed this soft-pureed food and keep these safe from predators like your house cat or pet dog. For wild-caught rabbits, call animal services to have these rescued properly.

How large should a Lionhead Rabbit’s cage be?

One Lionhead Rabbit must be placed in a large enclosure because of its size and energy. For two large rabbits, double the size of this area. You must never overlook the size of the enclosure and the number of rabbits you intend to keep.

Are Lionhead Rabbits territorial?

Experts say that Lionhead Rabbits may become territorial when these are placed inside a small cage or enclosure. Males can develop aggressive behavior become very aggressive to other males, especially in the breeding season. These can bite, scratch, and kick in the attempt to establish hierarchy.

Do you need to place a heater in a Lionhead Rabbit’s cage?

You can use a cage lamp to provide heat. However, in cold climates, you must use a small portable heater and place this near the cage for a comfortable place for your pet. This is also a good setting for warming kits.

Will a doe Lionhead Rabbit eat her young?

There are some rabbit species that will eat their young. Breeders don’t have an idea why does do this, but if you spot a mother, Lionhead Rabbit eating her young, remove it from the litter or nest and don’t let it breed ever again.

Can you keep two or more Lionhead Rabbits inside a cage?

Yes, you can keep two or more rabbits in one cage as long as their cage is large to keep your pets in. Keep in mind that the cage should be large, comfortable, and safe so your rabbits can remain inside comfortably.

Can rabbits survive the cold?

Yes, rabbits may remain in the cold and survive by looking and digging for food that is under the snow. Rabbits will use their short legs to dig out snow and eat food like roots, shrubs, berries, and other things that they can find.

Can Lionhead Rabbits remain outdoors?

A pet Lionhead Rabbit may be allowed to stay outdoors, but you must rabbit-proof your yard first. Portable perimeter fencing is a good way to limit the area where the rabbit can move. Remember to bury the poles of the fence to prevent the rabbit from digging the post out and escaping from the cage.

Are Lionhead Rabbits bites dangerous?

Yes, Lionhead Rabbit bites and the bite of all rabbits are dangerous because rabbits have rabies. Also, rabbit ears are huge and can easily tear off the flesh and also lead to a deep and infected wound.

Can rabbits see well in the dark?

Yes, despite having very small eyes and a thick mane, the Lionhead has good vision, especially at night. This is the reason why some species prefer to forage food at night. Rabbits like the Lionhead Rabbit also have a good sense of smell and hearing to let them recognize predators that could be lurking nearby.

Are all female rabbits cannibals?

Eating their young is present in some rabbit breeds. Experts say that this is because the female is hungry or thirsty inside its cage. This is also a good way to remove any traces of tissue, blood, and smell in the nest, especially when the baby is stillborn.

How young do you spay or neuter a rabbit?

It depends on the vet as to when to spay or neuter a rabbit. Some bucks are spayed as young as 3 months, while some vets will wait until these are 6 months before spaying or neutering.

Can you train your rabbit to use a collar and leash?

Some pet owners were successful in training their pet rabbits to wear a collar and a leash, but some say that it depends on what breed you are trying to train.

Can Lionhead Rabbits escape their cages?

Yes, Lionhead Rabbits can escape their cages by kicking or knocking their cages. These cannot jump and escape but will use force to escape the enclosure.

Do Lionhead Rabbits have good hearing?

Despite the Lionhead Rabbit having smaller ears than other rabbit breeds, this has good hearing. It can hear its predators from afar, and thus it still has time to jump and escape.

Will Lionhead Rabbits recognize their owners?

Some rabbit owners say that their pets can recognize them and can tell if they are being held by their owners or by a stranger. Hence, the rabbit may struggle or become uncomfortable in the hands of another person or someone, not their owner.

What to do with abandoned baby rabbits?

If you find abandoned wild kits in their nests, call animal service. You should never get baby rabbits from the wild to become your pets.

How many rabbits can you keep as a pet?

You can keep three or more rabbits as your pet as long as you have a large cage or enclosure to keep these pets comfortable and happy. Keeping one rabbit will make it depressed and will only affect its health.

Can you prevent a Lionhead Rabbit from eating his poop?

You can stop a rabbit from eating poop by removing the droppings right away after these defecate. But no matter what, these will still eat their dropping because they know that it still has nutrients in them.

Does it hurt when a Lionhead Rabbit hits you with its hind legs?

Yes, because Lionhead Rabbits have very sharp claws on its hind feet. This can kick very hard with its feet, which can inflict damage. The Lionhead will only do this when it feels threatened or afraid.

Can rabbit diseases harm humans?

Some rabbits may affect rabbits, while some are dangerous to humans. If your rabbit is sick, take it to the vet as soon as you can. You must learn how to check for the different signs of illnesses such as poor appetite, loose stools, constipation, sneezing, difficulty in breathing, and any changes in behavior. Take your pet to the vet as soon as you can.

Can pet rabbits tolerate children?

Some rabbits are very skittish and do not want to be held by young children with unsteady hands. Some are calm, docile, and friendly and will be okay to be held and petted by young children.

Will your pet rabbit survive the cold?

Some rabbits can tolerate very cold climates and will find food under the snow. Some rabbits can change their coat color to adapt to the winter weather; however, some rabbit breeds do not survive, especially desert rabbits.

Can you place the cage of Lionhead Rabbits near other rabbit pets?

Yes, you can let your Lionhead rabbit stay in a cage near other pets or rabbit breeds because it is very friendly, docile and calm. This will not be a problem at all.

Will rabbits eat insects?

No, rabbits will never eat insects. This animal will eat only plant and plant parts, commercially prepared food or pellets, fruits, and vegetables. Make sure to provide organic produce to avoid chemicals and toxins that can harm your pet rabbit.

Where do rabbits sleep in the wild?

In the wild, rabbits may sleep in warrens or burrows that they dig as deep as a meter to remain there all day. Rabbits can sleep in dens and nests. In captivity, they live in an enclosure that can accommodate rabbits and should be safe from predators.

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