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Netherland Dwarf Rabbit Care

Netherland Dwarf rabbits are inquisitive, loving pets, and make great family pets in households with older children. The Netherland Dwarf is one of the smallest breeds of rabbits, typically weighing 2-3 pounds when fully grown. They come in many different colors, and personalities and have an average life span of seven to 10 years.


Oftentimes, rabbit cages commercially available are too small for day-and-night housing, so prepare a secure play/exercise pen for your rabbit to enjoy and explore for a few hours each day. Your cage and exercise pen should include the following:

  • Timothy hay should always be available 
  • Water bottles or heavy water bowls that cannot be spilled.
  • Flooring should be solid, non-slip, and lined with bedding such as Feline Pine Cat Litter (no additives), carpet, towels, and/or reusable pee pads. Always avoid bedding that contains cedar as it is unhealthy for rabbits. When using wire bottom cages, we recommend using resting mats or grass mats to give your rabbit a place to rest their paws.
  • Offer plenty of hiding spots as rabbits are a prey animals and need a safe place to escape when overwhelmed. Cardboard boxes, tunnels, huts, or beds are great options.
  • We recommend litter training. Rabbits can be litter boxed trained. Start by placing the litter box in a corner area. Line the litter box with litter and hay. Place hay above the litter box and change out litter daily or as often as needed. If you notice your rabbit is not using the litter box, move the litter box to your rabbits chosen spot.

Ensure your Netherland Dwarf is always supervised when outside of the rabbit proofed area. They can easily hide and can be destructive to furniture, cords, and other hazardous household items.

To satisfy a rabbit’s innate chewing behavior and provide enrichment:

  • Offer natural chew toys or plastic toy stacking cups, and/or  apple and willow branches. Never offer cherry, peach, apricot, plum, and redwood as they are all toxic to rabbits.
  • Cardboard boxes, grass mats & huts, and tunnels provide hide spots and a space to explore, scratch, and chew.
  • Hide treats and hay in paper towel tubes or under plastic toy stacking cups.


While content, rabbits often lay on their stomach or side, with their hind legs extended out behind them. Happy rabbits may also binky, a behavior in which they run around quickly and jump in the air, shaking their whole body. Rabbits feeling unhappy or unsafe will runaway/hide, thump their back legs, and/or their bodies may become tense. Sometimes rabbits get moody and need space and time to feel better.

It is crucial to properly pick up and set down a rabbit as they are fragile and can easily be hurt with poor and/or improper handling. When picking up a rabbit, it is important to support their whole body and hold their bottom.  Always place a rabbit back into the its territory rear-end first. This decreases the likelihood of them jumping from your arms and getting hurt. It is best to build a bond with your rabbit and earn their trust before handling.


Rabbits are herbivores. A rabbits diet should consist of unlimited hay, fresh greens, and good quality pellets. We recommend the following diet brands: Oxbow Animal Health, Sherwood Pet Health, and Small Pet Select.

Hay: Senior (adult) rabbits should be fed unlimited timothy hay. Rabbits should eat a pile of hay at least the size of their body daily. Alfalfa hay should only be fed be to junior (young) rabbits (six to eight months old), pregnant, and/or nursing rabbits only due to its high calcium content.  Eating alfalfa hay can cause health problems in adult rabbits. Hay is an essential part of a rabbits diet and their gastrointestinal health. Hay also helps prevent dental disease in rabbits.

Greens: Offer a limited amount of vegetables, such as romaine, mustard greens, dandelion greens, carrot tops, red leaf lettuce, parsley, cilantro, bok choy, radish tops, watercress, kale and escarole. Add one vegetable to the diet at a time to prevent stomach issues, soft stools, and/or diarrhea. 

Pellets: Feed 1/8 cup of pellets to adults daily. Feed unlimited pellets to junior rabbits until 2-3 months old.  Avoid pellet mixes with seeds and dried fruits as they can lead to gastrointestinal and dental issues.

Treats: Sparingly offer fruit, vegetables, and herbs such as strawberries, carrots, banana, squash, basil, dill, and/or mint. 


  • Common diseases in pet rabbits include dental disease, gastrointestinal stasis, external parasites, and cancer in older rabbits.
  • Consider spaying and neutering pet rabbits. Female rabbits have a high chance of cancer which can be prevented by spaying. Prior to neutering, male rabbits may mount and spray urine. 
  • Although rabbits do not require vaccinations, yearly, routine physical exams may help keep your rabbit healthy and/or detect any diseases in the early stages. 
  • Rabbits that stop eating suddenly, producing feces suddenly, or is having trouble breathing, should immediately be seen by an exotic veterinarian as these can be signs of life-threatening issues.
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