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Britannia Petite Rabbit

Kristin Hitchcock

May 17, 2021

The Britannia Petite Rabbit is one of the smallest rabbits in the world. Known as the “Polish” in Britain, these bunnies are active and energetic. They are more high-strung than other breeds and need plenty of exercise. The max weight for this breed is only 2½ pounds, with many weighing less than that.

They aren’t the easiest to handle, mostly due to their energetic nature. They don’t sit still for very long by any means. They take plenty of patience.

The Britannia Petite Rabbit is newer as well. They weren’t imported into the United States until the 1900s.

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Quick Facts About the Britannia Petite Rabbit

Species Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Family: Leporidae
Care Level: High
Temperament: Energetic
Color Form: White, black, chestnut, black otter, sable
Lifespan: 6-10 years
Size: Under 2.5 pounds
Diet: Hay, pellets, veggies

Britannia Petite Rabbit Overview

This rabbit breed sports a fully arched body type, has a bit of an attitude, and comes in various colors. They also only weigh 2½ pounds at maximum. This makes them the smallest breed of rabbit, right ahead of the Netherland Dwarf.

The first coloration of this breed accepted by the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) was the REW, or “ruby-eyed white.” This is still the most common coloration today. However, other colors do exist, such as black otter and chestnut agouti.

These rabbits are bred to have lots of “daylight” under their stomachs. They have a very curved body type and commonly stand up on their back legs.

As the name suggests, this rabbit was bred in England. They evolved in Britain around the late 1800s, and in the 1900s, they were imported into the United States. They have also been a rather showy breed and are still popular at rabbit shows.

Though these rabbits are relatively dainty, they have a high-strung temperament. It takes an experienced handler to control them, which is why we only recommend this breed for those who have plenty of experience with rabbits.

How Much Do Britannia Petite Rabbits Cost?

These rabbits generally cost the same as other rabbits. It depends mostly on where you purchase the bunny from. If you purchase from a backyard breeder, you can expect to pay $10 or even take home a bunny for free.

With that said, if you purchase from a qualified breeder, the price will likely be closer to $50. While this is more upfront, rabbits from qualified breeders are usually higher-quality and healthy. These breeders often put a lot of thought into their lines’ genetics and are careful about what rabbits they breed together. They are also more aware of the Britannia Petite Rabbit’s handling needs, which may lead to friendlier bunnies.

For show-quality rabbits, you may pay up to $200. Those that are sure to perform in the show ring will be more expensive than pet-quality rabbits. However, unless you’re planning on showing the rabbit, there is little need to purchase a show-quality rabbit.

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Typical Behavior and Temperament

Unlike most other small rabbits, the Britannia Petite Rabbit is not shy or skittish. Instead, they are quite energetic, confident bunnies. They do not like to sit still, so don’t expect them to cuddle with you. If you’re looking for an adorable rabbit to snuggle up with, this isn’t it.

They are best for experienced owners due to their handling difficulties. They aren’t as easy-going as some other rabbits. They are notoriously difficult to train, often because they would just rather be doing something else. While they can still learn basic bunny tricks, like stay and sit, this requires more patience than it does with other bunnies.

Because of their smaller size, they do better in smaller homes as well. They don’t require as much space or as big of a room to hop around in. They tend to get into everything, mostly due to their smaller size and explorative personality, so rabbit-proofing is necessary.

These rabbits need plenty of outdoor time to bond with their people and exercise. Most will enjoy toys of all sorts, including balls and commercial rabbit toys you’ll find at your local pet store

Appearance & Varieties

These rabbits have a full-arch body type. This means that they have a significant arch from the base of their neck to their tail base. When viewed from the side, they should look like a quarter of a circle. Their rump will be tucked up under the rest of their body.

They have a wedge-shaped head and large eyes. Their eyes seem to protrude from their head, similarly to a Shih Tzu dog. Their ears are short and very pointy. They stand practically vertically on the rabbit’s head.

Their coat does not require much care. They do a pretty good job of taking care of their own grooming needs, so this usually isn’t something the owner needs to take care of. They do shed a little bit, with the amount ramping up about twice a year. You’ll probably notice rabbit hair on your clothes often, just like you would if you had any other pet.

Because they do shed, these rabbits often benefit from brushing a few times a week – perhaps more during the heavier shedding periods.

These rabbits were first accepted as red-eye white rabbits. However, they have developed many other colors today. This includes blue-eyed rabbits and rabbits with two different colors. On top of white, you can also find these rabbits in black, chestnut agouti, black otter, and stable.

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How to Take Care of a Britannia Petite Rabbit

Habitat & Setup

Because these rabbits are so small, they only require a small cage. However, because they are energetic and need room to exercise, you’ll probably want to purchase an indoor enclosure suitable for a medium-sized rabbit. This will provide your petite with plenty of room to move around and exercise.

It is not recommended to give these rabbits an outdoor enclosure. Their smaller size makes them prime targets for predators. Even the most durable cage can be infiltrated by snakes and similar animals, which will happily eat a little rabbit.

Their indoor enclosure should be made of wire with a solid bottom. Wire on the bottom can harm the bunny’s feet. Plus, these rabbits are sure to get their paws stuck if they try to walk on the wire because they are small.

The bedding should be spot-cleaned daily and replaced at the end of each week.

Even with a larger cage, it is essential to let these rabbits out every day to burn off their energy. It is nice to have a rabbit-proofed room for this reason. They aren’t the most affectionate rabbit, but they do enjoy playing with their people.

Do Britannia Petite Rabbits Get Along with Other Pets?

These rabbits don’t seem to pay much mind to other pets. They are not particularly shy or skittish, so they are usually not scared of most other pets.

However, they are tiny and make easy picking for cats and dogs. They should not be allowed predator animals of any sort. Even if you think your cat or dog is docile as can be, age-old hunting instincts are hard to counteract.

While you can keep a rabbit while you have other pets, it is best to keep the other pets separate from the rabbit unless they are small rodents. You should never leave your bunny to interact with another animal by themselves. But there is no reason you can’t have your bunny’s cage and another rodent’s cage in the same room.

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What to Feed Your Britannia Petite Rabbit

Proper diet is one of the essential aspects of keeping your rabbit healthy. Your bunny should be provided unlimited access to fresh water and quality hay. Your rabbit will mostly eat this hay, as it is nutritious, keeps their digestive tract working, and helps grind down their teeth. Overall, this hay should make up 75% of your rabbit’s diet.

Pellets, fresh vegetables, and leafy greens should make up the remaining 25% of their diet. Your rabbit does not need a lot of veggies to thrive, especially for their smaller size. Some acceptable veggies to feed your rabbit include leafy greens, carrots, fennel, broccoli, and cucumbers. They can eat fruits, but you should only feed them fruits that are low in sugar, like apples, for instance.

Keeping Your Britannia Petite Rabbit Healthy

These rabbits are not prone to any particular health problems. They are pretty healthy animals overall and usually do not require much veterinary care.

However, they are still prone to common rabbit problems, like overgrown teeth. Overgrown teeth are usually a result of your bunny not eating enough hay. The hay will slowly grind your rabbit’s teeth naturally, which prevents them from becoming overgrown. When your rabbit doesn’t eat enough hay, their teeth may grow too big and cause problems.

Usually, symptoms of overgrown teeth include a loss of appetite, fewer droppings, and lethargy. The teeth can grow into their jaws and face, which can be extremely painful. Check your rabbit’s mouth regularly to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Other common problems include flystrike. This is usually also caused by a poor diet. This disease involves flies laying eggs on your rabbit’s fur. When these eggs hatch, the larva will eat the rabbit, hence the name. Usually, rabbits that keep themselves clean don’t have this issue. It’s when the rabbit can’t clean themselves that they attract flies.

If the rabbit is obese, they may have difficulty cleaning themselves. However, most health problems will interfere with a rabbit’s cleaning since they won’t be feeling well. Diarrhea may also lead to a soiled coat, which your rabbit will have trouble cleaning. Usually, this is also caused by a poor diet.

Breeding

Breeding rabbits is a considerable responsibility. It isn’t something to take lightly, especially considering how many kits each rabbit litter will have. You’ll need to ensure that you can care for all of the litter, just in case you cannot find them all appropriate homes.

Because these rabbits are small, they reach sexual maturity in only a few months. They can be bred relatively young because they reach their full size rather early. You need to ensure that you have a home that is appropriate for the babies when they are starting to move around and an extra one for when they are weaning. By a few months of age, each rabbit will also need its hutch. This can take up a lot of room, so be prepared.

You should only breed healthy rabbits. The rabbits should not be underweight or overweight. You may want to take your rabbit to the vet to ensure they are healthy before breeding.

When breeding, always take the female to the male. The male will likely try to mark inside the female’s cage and may become distracted. Bringing the female to the male is usually more successful.

Once the female is pregnant, you will need to continue providing unlimited hay. She will probably eat more than she once did. Around day 25 of the pregnancy, a nesting box should be placed in the doe’s cage. The nesting box should contain some nesting material and should be just large enough for the doe to turn around in. You don’t want it too big, as you don’t want the doe spending too much time in it.

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Are Britannia Petite Rabbits Suitable for You?

These smaller rabbits are suitable for experienced owners due to their energetic temperament and handling difficulties. New owners may have difficulties getting these rabbits trained and will likely do better with a different breed starting out.

Though these rabbits are tiny, this doesn’t mean they take up only a small space. They are energetic and active, so they will require plenty of room to exercise.

As far as health and care go, these rabbits are similar to other breeds. They are not prone to any particular health problems but can be bothered by the usual rabbit problems, like overgrown teeth and flystrike.


Featured Image: vjmarisphotos, Flickr

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!