Netherland Dwarves are the worlds smallest rabbit breed at around 0.7-1.5kg in size. Featuring a small body, round face, large round eyes and tiny short ears, they are a very popular breed currently in the UK and one which has changed a lot in recent decades. Affectionately known as "nethies", they have a reputation for having "little man syndrome" and can be stubborn, fiesty and cheeky. Busy, active and playful, they are always up to something!
With this tiny doe eyed breed, comes a lot of care. What are these care needs?
Eyes - If they have large bulging eyes watch for signs of ulcers (pain when blinking, over watering or spots on the surface of the eye). Watch for excessive watering or discharge which can be a sign of the teeth roots pressing on the tear duct causing it to be overly active.
Teeth - Have regular professional dental checks done, ensuring extra time and care is taken to check the molars for signs of dental overgrowth. Feel along the side of their jaw and face daily to feel for lumps which could indicate a dental abscess. Foul smelling breath indicates a dental infection. Look and feel under the chin for dampness on one or both sides. Drooling indicates dental overgrowth.
Gut & Diet - the digestive sensitivity they have should be taken into account where diet is concerned. nethies do well on a dry diet (plants, grasses etc dried rather than fresh) and the diet should be very high in fibre. Excess cecotrophe production is common so having easy to clean surfaces is ideal. Starchy fruit and veg should never be given as this will not be tolerated by their digestive system and will not promote healthy gut and dental health. Offer very stalky thick stranded hay to help with dental wear and things to gnaw on.
Breathing - The environment they live in should be as dust free as possible and fresh air should be provided daily if they live indoors. Their sensitive respiratory tracts require dust extracted hay and bedding. Use fleece or cotton for them to lie on and litter such as back2nature which is fragrance and dust free. Do not use synthetic fragrances or perfumed items in the home like candles or air fresheners around them.
Environment - As the smallest breed of rabbit, they are able to squeeze themselves into tiny places in the home. Ensure you bunny proof correctly and watch for small holes and spaces they could get their heads stuck in. While small, they are very active and need a lot of space to dash around and jump up onto things.
As always, #adoptdontshop and don't add to the breeding of these extreme breeds. This #caringforextremebreeds series is in conjunction with our #endextremebreeding campaign, we are highlighting how to care for these buns who already exist and need our help. Always have a good rabbit savvy vet who can detect issues and companionship is key.