Holland Lop Rabbit: From Perfect Pet to Breeding Adventure
Murphy's Jingles: solid black buck
Are you looking for the perfect pet? One that's clean, quiet, easy to care for, somewhat independent, soft to the touch, full of personality, and ready to accept your love? A pet that you don't have to take for walks with a plastic bag in your hand? A pet that you can house indoors or outdoors? A pet that will be easy for a neighbor to look after when you're away? Look no further than the Holland Lop bunny.
My son is allergic to everything that has fur, yet my daughters wanted a fluffy pet. Holland Lops filled the requirements for us to keep a soft, fluffy animal (the fish didn't quite cut it!), while managing my son's allergies.
Enter Daphne, our first Holland. We got her as a ten-week-old in 2019 and kept her in our 9'x13' Kloter Farms cedar gazebo, a luxurious habitat for one little rabbit. It was the perfect arrangement. She was surrounded by sunlight yet protected from the wind by the vinyl screens when needed. And it was right outside our back door so we could visit her easily every day.
And guess what? She was easy! We rarely had to brush her. She basically trained herself to use the litter box. She enjoyed us when we were there, but also liked her independence. Food costs were minimal. Her habitat was a one-time investment supplemented only with cardboard tubes and paper bags. We gave her free-roam time, but she also preferred having a safe cage where she could escape to when she got tired. She was the perfect mix of companion pet and independent agricultural animal. Sort of a cross between a dog and a cat, if you like. Very curious, very funny. Our wonderful neighbors who knew nothing about rabbits were eager to help care for her when we went on vacation. Simple instructions: food and water daily, plus a handful of hay and a couple of Cheerios. Clean litter box twice a week. Easy peasy.
Daphne's breeder, Jason Goulet (Connecticut) allowed us to breed her to his buck (male bunny), another bunny from Proud Ears Rabbitry in New York. What an exciting moment to see the babies arrive 31 days later! The five little bunnies convinced us that this was a venture worth repeating.
Today, with around twenty bunnies, our gazebo has become our rabbitry. This is a good size for us. It allows us to give them the daily care they need without skimping on the love. (Even so, I have a friend come once a week just to cuddle the rabbits, just in case!) I enjoy spending time with my Hollands, but I know that if I have a really busy day, they will be okay with just the twenty minutes in the morning and evening that it takes for me to feed and water them. Of course twice a week, cages and litter boxes are cleaned, so that takes an hour or two. And then there's the time you take to teach them to pose, and to clip their nails, and to give them turns in the exercise pens, but that's all part of the fun!
I took the long route. I kept a bunny as a single pet for several months to see if this was something I would enjoy, and then slowly built up my herd with a few quality animals from reputable and well-known breeders Dyan Murphy (Pennsylvania) and Carrie Campo (Washington state). I have easily spent over 100 hours online searching through breeders' websites, ARBA and HLRSC publications, and content regarding health, breeding, genetics, showing, and general care, in an effort to be a responsible and informed breeder.
I am still mid-process as a breeder and shower, but the process is so much fun. Like dog and horse shows, there are rabbit shows, where the judges compare the rabbits to each other to see which is conforms best to the "standard". The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) publishes the Standard of Perfection, which shows what the perfect rabbit in each breed should look like. That is what I breed toward. I'm not in it for the money. I want to see improvement in my animals' conformation to the standard, if possible, within each breeding. It is a slow but rewarding process. The thing that makes it fun for me is the interaction with the rabbits themselves. There's nothing like it.
The first photo of Daphne, before we picked her up.
Daphne's first litter