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Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit

Nicole Cosgrove

May 25, 2021

When it comes to pure unadulterated cuteness, few animals come close to the Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit. One look at this bunny, and you want to take them home with you. Nonetheless, most new Lorraine rabbit owners do not anticipate the amount of effort it takes to keep this little ball of fluff happy.

A common misconception is that rabbits are easy beginner pets, such as hamsters. However, the needs of a Lorraine rabbit tend to rival that of larger pets such as dogs — only you don’t have to take the bunny out for walks.

In this article, we shall discuss everything you need to know about the Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit, as well as what goes into caring for them.

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Quick Facts about Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit

Species Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Family: Leporids
Care Level: Medium
Temperature: 50 ºF -75 ºF
Temperament: Docile
Color Form: Chestnut brown
Lifespan: 5-15 years
Size: 4.4-5.3 pounds
Diet: Herbivorous
Minimum Tank Size: 4’ x 2’
Compatibility: Good with socialization

Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit Overview

The Brown Chestnut of Lorraine is a domestic rabbit that traces its roots to the Lorraine region of France. Over there, it is known as the “Brun Marron de Lorraine.” Interestingly, it is one of the rarest breeds of domestic rabbits in the world, which came about from crossing the Garenne rabbit with the Tan rabbit.

Pet Lorraine rabbits can live both indoors and outdoors. However, indoor rabbits tend to live longer due to the more comfortable environment. As with all other rabbit breeds, the Lorraine rabbit is also a nocturnal herbivore, meaning it only comes out of its burrow at dusk to forage. They typically stay hidden during the day to avoid predators.

Some of the notable characteristics of the Lorraine rabbit include:

  • Large ears that give them an exceptional hearing ability
  • Muscular hind legs that allow them to achieve speeds of up to 50 mph
  • Continuously growing incisors
  • Constant communication with each other through low vocalizations
  • A high rate of reproduction with females giving birth to more than 30 offspring in one season
  • Average levels of intelligence
  • Consuming part of its own droppings to meet dietary needs

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How Much Does the Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit Cost?

Depending on the breeder, the Lorraine rabbit can cost anywhere between $20 and $60. However, as mentioned, this breed is rare.

Therefore, it might not be easy to find a genuine Lorraine rabbit breeder. When you identify several breeders claiming to have this rabbit, do a background check on each of them to ascertain their authenticity. This will include checking out their websites and social media pages to see how they go about their business, as well as feedback from their previous customers.

Alternatively, you can check out shelters near you to see whether they have the Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit. Adopting one is a great option, as you will be giving an abandoned pet the chance to enjoy a better life than the one they would get at a shelter.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

The Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit is a docile, playful, and social bunny, often forming tight bonds with its owners over time. However, since it is a prey animal, the Lorraine rabbit scares easily. As such, do not get upset when your new bunny runs and hides from you in the beginning.

The good news is that if you give them space and time, they will eventually warm up to you, sometimes coming over for some bonding time.

To get your Lorraine rabbit to trust you, consider the following tips:

  • Open the door to the enclosure and the back away slowly. Without making too much noise, sit on the floor and observe them. The goal is to get your rabbit used to your presence.
  • Do not pick them up unless necessary, as rabbits do not like being held.
  • Give them treats whenever they approach you. This will show that you are a friend.

Considering how frightful these rabbits are, they are not a good fit for young children, as kids might handle them roughly.

Appearance & Varieties

The Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit is a medium-sized breed, with its weight varying between 4.4 – 5.3 pounds. As compared to other breeds, the Lorraine is relatively slender but well-rounded. It has an angular head, prominent eyes, and a short coat with dense fur.

This rabbit gets its name from its characteristic chestnut brown fur.

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How to Take Care of the Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit

Habitat, Cage Conditions & Setup

Some pet stores might sell you enclosures meant for guinea pigs to house your rabbit. However, such cages are simply too small for the much larger rabbit.

The ideal cage size for a Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit is long enough to allow the rabbit to make at least three small hops from one end to the other. It should also be wide enough to allow the rabbit to lay outstretched without touching the sides. As for height, your bunny should be able to stand on its hind legs without its head bumping the top.

Therefore, the ideal enclosure for a Lorraine rabbit should measure at least 4’ x 2’. Alternatively, you could use a large dog’s crate as an enclosure for your bunny. The advantage of dog crates is that they provide the rabbit with plenty of space and are quite easy to set up and maintain.

However, avoid cages or enclosures with wire bottoms, as these can press the rabbit’s soft feet, causing sore hocks. If you must have a wire bottom, then lay a mat so that your pet does not have to stand on the wire.

If the pen has wooden parts, make sure that it is neither painted nor toxic. This is because rabbits will chew on anything to trim their ever-growing incisors. Therefore make sure that the wood used is not toxic. Steer clear of birch, cedar, and yew. Avoid painted wood, too.

Temperature

As mentioned, the coat of a Lorraine rabbit is quite thick, meaning they are susceptible to heat strokes when exposed to higher temperatures. This is why experts recommend housing your Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit in the lower areas of your home, preferably the basement. This is because those areas tend to have below-average temperatures.

During the summer, try to maintain room temperature below 75 ºF, especially if your area tends to have high humidity levels. During winter, set the thermostat to keep the rabbit’s room in the 50-70 ºF temperature range.

Litter Box

Bunnies are exceptionally clean animals, to the extent that they designate a section of their housing for pooping and peeing. They tend to eat and defecate simultaneously when consuming hay. Simply place a medium-sized litter box near where they eat, cover its bottom with digestible material such as newspaper shredding, and then set some hay on top of it.

Do Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbits Get Along with Other Pets?

In the wild, dogs and cats are among the many predators that rabbits have to avoid. As such, your bunny has a natural fear for your dog or cat. Therefore, it is not a good idea to allow your carnivorous pets to interact with your frightful bunny unless you want to stress them out.

However, rabbits are social creatures, meaning they do not do well alone. Therefore, consider getting a pair of Lorraine rabbits instead of one. This will ensure that they do not become lonely when you are not at home. Don’t forget to neuter or spay your rabbits to avoid behavioral problems that come with reaching sexual maturity, such as battling for dominance.

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What to Feed Your Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit

Humans started domesticating rabbits around 600 A.D., which is quite recent in the grand scheme of things. As such, your bunny’s dietary preferences are still similar to those of their wild cousins. This means that you should have them on a diet that mimics that of wild rabbits.

For starters, they need lots of high-quality fiber. Fiber is essential to rabbits, not only for gut health but also for the maintenance of healthy teeth. Some of the ideal foods for bunnies include:

Hay and Grass

Grass-based products, especially hay, should make up to 90% of a rabbit’s diet. As such, make sure that you have plenty of both fresh and dry grass, haylage, and meadow hay for your bunny.

Vegetables

Vegetables are also essential to Lorraine rabbits, as they provide the animal with the vitamins and nutrients they need. Additionally, veggies also allow the rabbit to enjoy different tastes and textures. Nonetheless, the amount of vegetables in a bunny’s diet should be significantly smaller than that of hay or grass.

Water

Due to the high amount of fiber in a rabbit’s diet, they need to drink lots of water lest they risk dehydration. In fact, rabbits can die within 24 hours of not drinking water. This explains why wild rabbits build warrens next to water sources.

Lorraine rabbits drink up to 10% of the body weight in water. As such, make sure that your pet’s bowl can hold at least 180 ml of water, as they can drink as much in a single day.

Keeping Your Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit Healthy

In addition to adequate food and water, the following are some of the other things your Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit needs to stay healthy:

Exercise Space

Lorraine rabbits have tons of energy, especially when they are young. This means that you will have to provide your pet with adequate space for running around.

You can allow the bunny access to the whole house, or you could set up a special pen for exercise. If you decide to give them access to the entire house, you will need to rabbit-proof your home. Due to their tendency to gnaw on almost everything, consider covering all wires and pipes with flex tubing or plastic sleeves. You could also raise the wires, so they are out of the bunny’s reach.

Conversely, you could simply utilize the room where you keep their enclosure as their exercise pen. As mentioned, rabbits are typically most active at dusk and dawn. Therefore, those are the best times to let them out of their enclosure for exercise.

Toys

These rabbits can be extremely playful. What’s more, they will play with just about any toy. However, we recommend giving them safe rabbit toys so that they do not come into harm once they inevitably start gnawing on them.

Chewing toys are incredibly important for your Lorraine rabbit, as they help the animal to file their continuously growing incisors. Without a proper gnawing surface, your animal’s teeth could grow to a point where they inhibit its ability to eat.

You could also throw in some hard plastic toys for them to swat or toss around.

Proper Handling

We have mentioned how skittish a Lorraine rabbit can be. This is why you are advised against handling them frequently, as it puts them under a lot of stress. Nonetheless, with proper care and respect, your bunny will get comfortable with you holding them occasionally.

The proper way to pick up a Lorraine rabbit is by holding them by the scruff of the neck with one hand and supporting their rear with the other. This is because Lorraine rabbits have extremely weak spines, breaking easily when they kick out.

Grooming

As mentioned earlier, Lorraine rabbits take pride in their hygiene. Due to that fact, they do not require regular baths as other pets do. Moreover, the act of bathing them can be tremendously stressful to the bunny.

All you need to do, therefore, is simply brush their coat at least once a week while trimming their nails after every 6 weeks. Familiarize yourself with proper nail trimming techniques for rabbits so you do not injure your little one in the process.

How to tell if Your Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbit is Sick

Lorraine rabbits are remarkably good at hiding illnesses and injuries. Therefore, unless they are very sick, you might not notice. However, there are some common telltale signs of a sick rabbit. They include:

  • Lack of appetite, even for their favorite treats
  • Lethargy
  • Not pooping
  • A change in litter box habits
  • Sitting hunched over
  • Bloated belly

If your bunny displays two or more of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately for an examination. It is also good practice to take your Lorraine bunny for checkups frequently, even when they look to be of sound health.

Breeding

If you do decide to breed Lorraine rabbits, ensure that you have adequate resources to cater to both parents and offspring. Additionally, make sure to consult the vet before, during, and after the pregnancy.

Does (female rabbits) attain sexual maturity at just 4 months of age, producing between 4 and 12 kits per litter, and can have up to six litters in a single year. Therefore, make sure you are well prepared before you start breeding this rabbit.

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Are Brown Chestnut of Lorraine Rabbits Suitable For You?

As long as you have some time on your hands, you won’t have trouble taking care of this rabbit breed. But you must have a great degree of patience when dealing with these animals because they are susceptible to stress.

This is why you must teach your kids to respect the bunny. Additionally, never leave children with the rabbit unsupervised, as it can result in injuries on both ends. Yes, Lorraine rabbits can bite in an attempt to free themselves.

Conclusion

The Brown Chestnut of Lorraine rabbit is mind-blowingly adorable, which is why most people consider adopting them. However, unlike cats and dogs, they are prey animals, meaning they are pre-programmed to avoid predators.

Therefore, do not expect them to hop onto your lap the moment you get home — it will take time. Over time, however, Lorraine rabbits develop extremely tight bonds with their owners, making some of the best pets around.


Image Credit: Dagmar Hijmans, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.