The Belgian Hare is a fancy domesticated rabbit that has come about through selective breeding. Like a wild hare, Belgian Hares are beautiful while still being clever and sometimes skittish. Because of their attractive look and intelligence, the Belgian Hare is a popular pet.
Just as with any other pet, Belgian Hares require special attention and care. If you are thinking about getting a Belgian Hare, read on. This guide tells you everything you need to know about this rabbit breed. Let us get started.
Quick Facts about Belgian Hares
|Species Name:||Belgian Hare Rabbit|
|Temperature:||All climates; avoid extremely high humidity or heat|
|Temperament:||Active, intelligent, and nervous|
|Lifespan:||7 to 7 years|
|Size:||Large (6 to 9 lbs.)|
|Diet:||Water, 70% hay and 30% vegetables, fruits, and pellets|
|Minimum Enclosure Size:||24 x 60 x 24 in.|
|Enclosure Set-Up:||Outdoor enclosure, complete with nesting, litter box, and eating area|
|Compatibility:||Compatible for homes with large outdoor enclosures; not suitable for apartments, small homes, or indoor captivity|
Belgian Hare Overview
The Belgian Hare was selectively bred to look like a wild hare. As a result, this rabbit breed has incredibly long limbs and a distinctive look. Even though this rabbit is really attractive, this breed’s original intent was to create a practical meat source.
Because of their unique flair and spirited characteristics, they became incredibly popular throughout Europe and the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, they are more commonly used for pets and show animals because they are intelligent and attractive, though they are still produced for meat.
Belgian Hares are relatively common, but purebreds are rare. According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, a purebred Belgian Hare is considered threatened.
Generally speaking, Belgian Hares are considered a great pet breed. They are believed to be the only domesticated rabbit breed that has a rich red or chestnut coat. In other words, this rabbit will stand out amongst other rabbit pets. Plus, they can respond to their names and come to food.
Belgian rabbits typically are active and sweet, meaning that you can have some fun with them. Some are more nervous than others, though. Still, they have a fun nature that makes them a great rabbit as a pet.
In addition to their attractive and spirited nature, Belgian Hares are relatively easy to take care of. Although you will need to groom and clean their cage, Belgian Hares require less care than other pets.
How Much Do Belgian Hares Cost?
Given that Belgian Hares are a more desirable breed of rabbits, they are more costly than other domesticated pets. You can find Belgian Hares costing between $150 and $500. If you select a Hare from a reputable breeder, you may need to pay more.
In addition to the cost of buying the Belgian Hare, you will likely need to pay around $20 to $25 per month on food and litter. That does not even factor in the fees, vaccinations, and any rabbit-owning accessories, like toys.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
Belgian Hares are considered incredibly active and intelligent rabbits. As a result, domesticated Belgian Hares may respond to their name, and they will almost always want to be on the move.
One negative side to their temperament is that they are a bit skittish and nervous. Although they are not very aggressive, they sometimes kick if you handle them incorrectly, and they will want to run a lot to burn off their nervous energy.
Because of their energy and nervous temperament, they are better for outdoor living, and they would not be best for living inside an apartment.
Appearance & Varieties
One thing that sets the Belgian Hare apart from other rabbits breed is its unique appearance. Although this animal certainly is a rabbit, it is bred to look like a hare, even down to its coat. It is generally considered to be a large rabbit breed, often weighing 7 to 8 pounds.
A Belgian Hare typically has a slender and fine-boned body, complete with agile and strong legs. Its forefeet are straight and flat, but the hind feet and arched back are relatively prominent due to the rounded hindquarter. Because of its hare-like look, the Belgian Hare is considered the racehorse of rabbits.
As for their face, Belgian Hares typically have heads that are much longer than other rabbits, complete with large and straight ears. This allows them to have a much more distinct look even in the face.
Belgian Hares look like wild hares in more than just their body design. They also have coats that are more similar to a hare than that of a rabbit. They can come in a variety of colors, with black ticking on the coat. Most Belgian Hares will have black, red, tan, chestnut, and black and tan coats.
How to Take Care of Belgian Hares
Habitat, Enclosure Conditions & Setup
Because Belgian Hares are large for rabbits, they require large and open enclosures. The minimum enclosure size for a single Belgian Hare is 24 by 60 by 24 inches. If the Belgian Hare is pregnant, the cage will need to be larger.
In addition to a large habitat, it is ideal if the enclosure is outside. Belgian Hares like to run around. If their enclosure is in an inside cage, they will not have enough room to hop and jump. It is not recommended to keep a Belgian Hare as an indoor pet.
If you house your Belgian Hare outside, you need to ensure that the enclosure is protected from predators. You will want a cage that is lifted off the ground and sealed with fine mesh. This will ensure that predators cannot get to the rabbit.
Regardless of whether you house your Belgian Hare inside or outside, the enclosure must be large enough for them to stretch out completely and for the food to be separated from the litter tray.
Inside your enclosure, the cage should have three areas: one for eating, one for nesting, and one for going to the bathroom. The eating area will be pretty straightforward. It requires a little tray for food and water bottle. Make sure it is separated from the litter area.
The nesting area is simply an area away from the bathroom area. Ideally, select an enclosure with a latch so that you can teach them their nesting location. The third section is the litter area. Belgian Hares are easy to potty train. Use litter shavings in this area for easy cleaning.
Like many other rabbit breeds, Belgian Hares are suitable for most temperatures and environments. Make sure not to house them in an environment that is extremely humid or hot, however. More temperate conditions are best.
In their enclosure, make sure you put toys. Belgian Hares need a lot of mental stimulation. Golf balls, hardwood, and PVC tubing are great options to keep them entertained.
Do Belgian Hares Get Along with Other Pets?
Given that rabbits are prey animals, Belgian Hares do not typically get along with other pets. Even though they will not fight another animal, their nervous nature makes them less suited for other animals because they will be stressed and hide.
Dogs, cats, and other predators should not be paired with the Belgian Hare. However, you can pair Belgian Hare with other rabbits. Take precautions so as not to have too many unwanted babies.
Because you should keep a Belgian Hare in an outside enclosure, you can have other pets alongside your rabbit, so long as they are housed separately. Make sure that the predatory animals are kept separate from the Hare, and that the enclosure is safe.
What to Feed Your Belgian Hare
Because Belgian Hares are so big, many people assume that they have a different diet than other rabbits. This is not true. Just like with any other rabbit, Belgian Hares should have constant access to fresh water and quality hay.
70% of their diet should come from hay. Hay ensures that their digestive tract is working as it should. There are a variety of hay types you can choose from, but Timothy hay is the best. You will be able to find Timothy hay at any pet store or major supermarket chain.
The remaining 30% of their diet comes from pellets, vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens. Balancing fruits and vegetables in their diet ensures they get the needed minerals and vitamins they need.
Instead of giving your Belgian Hare constant access to vegetables and pellets, only feed them these items for dinner. This allows them to get their nutrients while maintaining a primary hay diet.
It is important to note that not all vegetables and fruits are suitable for rabbits. Iceberg lettuce, for example, has no nutritional value and can give rabbits diarrhea. Do not feed your Belgian Hare iceberg lettuce.
Additionally, other fruits and vegetables should only be fed in moderation. You can feed tuberous vegetables, such as carrots, and high sugar fruits, like apples, occasionally as treats but not every day.
Keeping Your Belgian Hare Healthy
Belgian Hares are pretty easy to keep healthy. Because they are so active on their own, they typically get the required exercise they need. They also groom themselves, meaning you do not have to do a lot for grooming maintenance.
There are a couple of ways that you can ensure your Belgian Hare stays as healthy as possible. Most importantly, be sure to feed them an appropriate diet, complete with constant access to water, hay, and occasional vegetables.
Additionally, make sure your Belgian Hare has enough space to run around and move. If you put them in an enclosure too small, they will not be able to exercise and run around as they see fit.
Make sure they are free from ear mites and flystrike too. Flystrike is whenever flies lay eggs within their wet fur. Take your Belgian Hare to the vet if you suspect either of these issues. Additionally, give your Belgian Hare deworming pastes every fall and spring.
One last thing to keep in mind is that rabbits’ teeth never stop growing. Provide them with items to chew on to keep their teeth filed down.
Like other rabbits, Belgian Hares breed in the summertime. If you want to breed them at some other point in the year, you will need to give them extra light to simulate the summer. Additionally, you will need a larger cage for the pregnant rabbit. Have one in advance.
If you want to breed Belgian Hares, it is best to bring the doe to the buck. Does are protective over their space and will try to see the buck out of their enclosure instead of mating. It is a good idea to watch the doe and buck during the mating process.
If they do not mate within 10 minutes, take the buck out of the enclosure and reintroduce them after things have settled. You may need to do this several times before the doe takes the buck. The litter size is typically between 4 and 8 kittens.
Are Belgian Hares Suitable for You?
Belgian Hares are a beautiful and fancy rabbit breed, making them a favorite pet and show rabbit. Despite their beauty, these rabbits are not for everyone. They require a lot of space to live and roam.
If you have a large outdoor enclosure suitable for Belgian Hares and like the idea of having an intelligent and active rabbit, then this rabbit breed is great for you. You will be able to give them the space they need to live a happy and healthy life.
On the contrary, you should not select a Belgian Hare if you live in an apartment and do not have ample space for them to roam. Given that they are so much bigger than other rabbits, they need a large enclosure outdoors.
Other than the large outdoor enclosure, Belgian Hares are relatively easy to take care of and should not give you much trouble. Just keep them away from other animals, watch their teeth, and feed them right!
Featured Image Credit: Cassidy Te, Shutterstock