Once known as the “Ingen’s Fire Eye” and often referred to as the mink of the rabbit world, the Havana rabbit breed is more than a century old. They get their name from the dark color of a Havana cigar, but they come not only in strong dark chocolate but also in other colors. Their incredibly soft fur makes them a beloved pet, but like other rabbits, Havanas need proper care to thrive.
COMMON NAME(s): Havana Rabbit
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Oryctolagus Cuniculus
ADULT SIZE: 4.5-6.5 lbs.
LIFETIME: 5-8 years, but some can live up to 12 years.
Behavior and temperament of Havana rabbits
Havana rabbits may be prized for their soft coats, but like other rabbits, they are also prized for their personality and mischief. Havana rabbits are not aggressive, they like to play and let off steam and are excellent pets. They can be very affectionate and friendly and are sometimes even considered one of the calmest rabbit breeds.
Havana rabbits are considered small to medium-sized rabbits. Some people refer to them as dwarf rabbits or miniature rabbits, but they are a bit larger than a dwarf. They are more compact than elongated and usually weigh around 5 pounds as adults. Their bodies are described as short and round.
You have many options for housing your Havana rabbit. Outdoor rabbit hutches can be built or purchased, but they must be very secure so that your little rabbit cannot escape and predators cannot get in. Make sure the floor of outdoor rabbit hutches is solid and not made of wire, which can lead to foot problems. Indoor enclosures can also be purchased, but since rabbits need a lot of room to roam, it is recommended that you have a cage that is at least 3 feet x 3 feet in size in addition to a secure rabbit play area in your home.
Special substrate requirements
If you choose a substrate for your Havana rabbit’s cage, avoid cedar and pine shavings. These wood chips can be aromatic and also contain oils that can cause respiratory and skin problems in your rabbit. Aspen shavings or recycled paper are a better choice if you want to give your rabbit a bed to sleep or run on. These same substrates can also be placed in your rabbit’s litter box, or you can use hay, paper-based litter, or, as a last resort, unscented, dust-free cat litter.
What do Havana rabbits eat and drink?
In addition to fresh water, Havana rabbits need a wide variety of vegetables and hay. About 1/4 cup of rabbit pellets (without seeds or food coloring) should be offered each day, but your rabbit should eat mostly grass hay and dark green leafy vegetables. Less than 5% of the food can be treated such as sugar-free cereals, crackers, fruits, and non-green vegetables. A water bottle and a water bowl should be available at all times so your rabbit can drink enough water.
Common health problems
Havana rabbits are usually healthy, but all domestic rabbits are prone to some of the following health problems:
- Dental problems
- Mites and ear infections
- Mites and skin infections
- Eye problems
- Problems with the respiratory tract
- Problems with the reproductive organs
All of these and many other health problems require the help of a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care.
Training your Havana rabbit
Havana rabbits are great rabbits to train to play ball, respond to their name, use a litter box, and more!
Training on the leash
If you want to keep your rabbit close to you while training with him outside, a harness and leash can be a great solution. Be sure to choose a harness that is specifically designed for a compact rabbit’s body, and soften him up to walking on a leash by giving him treats until he gets used to it.
House training your Havana rabbit is not very difficult and can help you keep your home clean. It will also encourage you to let your rabbit run around the house more when you know you are in for a surprise. Since rabbits like to eat and do their business at the same time, putting your rabbit’s hay rack in a place where he has to sit down to eat in the litter box is one of the easiest things you can do to start the process of cleanliness training.
Exercise is vital to your Havana rabbit’s mental and physical health. It needs plenty of room to run and play daily, find food, be mentally stimulated, find chew objects, maintain its muscle mass and keep its digestive tract moving. Gastrointestinal motility can decrease or stop due to stress and lack of physical mobility. If you do not provide your Havana rabbit with exercise, he may develop serious health problems.
The Havanna rabbit’s mink-like coat is very low maintenance, especially since rabbits are groomed like cats. However, it may still be necessary to trim the nails and groom the rabbit occasionally.
Havana rabbits shed their fur regularly, but the major shedding occurs twice a year, in the spring and fall. During these major shedding events, your rabbit will shed more hair than usual, but the Havana rabbit’s hair is very fine and short.
You shouldn’t need to brush your Havana rabbit regularly, but it doesn’t hurt to use a soft brush if you want to have a moment of togetherness with your rabbit. If your rabbit’s paws or hind legs become matted, there is likely an environmental or medical issue that needs to be addressed.
Since Havana rabbits groom themselves, you should not need to bathe them unless your rabbit is running around messily, is sick, and has a dirty rear end or a messy meal. If a bath is necessary, be sure to use lukewarm, not hot, water, and don’t submerge the rabbit completely or wet its entire body – bathe only the areas that need it, as they can tend to catch colds.
Cost of care
Caring for a Havana rabbit can cost more than expected. Because of the daily fresh vegetables, hay, and pellets, you should expect to spend about $50 a month on food and another $10 to $20 on toys and bedding for your rabbit. You should also budget for routine and emergency visits to the veterinarian if your rabbit needs medical care.
Advantages and disadvantages of keeping a Havana rabbit as a pet.
Rabbits require a lot more space and attention than many people think, but they also make very lovable pets. Havana rabbits are easy to handle and tame, but they need fresh vegetables every day and their bedding needs to be cleaned regularly.