Dwarf lops and Mini lops are relatively new rabbit breeds and have only been available in Australia since 1998. The Dwarf lops and Mini lops in Australia today have been bred from rabbits which originated in America and England and arrived via breeders in New Zealand. They have been developed from the Lop which is one of the oldest rabbit varieties. The term “Lop” stems from the characteristic ears of this rabbit which are extremely long and wide and hang either side of the head, touching the ground. The Dwarf lop was the first of the two varieties to be developed. This was achieved by introducing the dwarf gene to the French Lop rabbit. The Dwarf lops were then further dwarfed to produce the Mini lop.
Mini Lop Rabbits make great house pets due to their endearing personality. This breed of rabbits is small, weighing 4-6 pounds. They are naturally clean animals that can be easily trained to use a litter box. They are low odor pets who thrive in a quiet environment. They appreciate affection and can bond with their owners. Because they are small in size, they do not take up much room. In case they go out to exercise, keep an eye on them as they can be preyed on by predators. Mini lops love to explore due to their curious nature.
Miniature Lops are renowned for their intelligent and playful temperament. They enjoy playing with toys and being around their families but will get bored if they don’t have enough stimulation. As with any rabbit they can be skittish and fearful if they are not socialised from an early age, so make sure you buy from a reputable breeder and spend plenty of time handling them.
Most problems relate to inadequate diet. Ear mites are common. Mosquitoes and rabbit fleas can carry myxomatosis, a fatal disease which cannot be vaccinated against in Australia. Screen hutches and use flea powder if exposed to wild rabbits. Rabbits can be vaccinated against the Calicivirus (Rabbit Haemorrhagic disease) if this disease is considered to be a problem in your area. Rabbits are susceptible to extremes of heat or cold, especially if kept permanently outdoors. ‘Snuffles’ is the term given to a common infectious respiratory disease (Pasteurella multocida) seen in rabbits which are kept in draughty or poorly ventilated conditions. Other diseases to look out for include Coccidiosis (a protozoan parasite in the liver or intestine), Enteritis (a potentially fatal condition caused by sudden changes in diet).
Dwarf lops and Mini lops are very similar in appearance, size being the only real difference between the two. Dwarf lops are the larger of the two and may weigh as much as 2.5 kg. The smaller Mini lop has a maximum weight of 1.6 kg. Both varieties have a dense and soft coat and drooping ears. (Lops are born with upright ears which soften and droop as they age). There are over 40 different colours and patterns in the mini and dwarf lops worldwide, however not all of these are available in Australia.