Learning About Lionheads

Leo the Lionhead's ManesSo before we had Leo, I had seen some pictures of Lionhead rabbits and knew they had manes. I also knew they could be single or double maned, but had no idea what that actually meant. Seeing Leo’s picture and then seeing him in person, I thought the mop of fur between his ears was super cute, but he didn’t have the thick ruff of mane around the head that I had seen with some Lionheads. You can see in the top picture what I mean. Except for the between the ears mop, his fur was pretty short.

In the time we have had Leo, I have learned that cute mop of fur between his ears is also called a “fringe” or “wool cap”. Whatever you call it, it just always reminds me of the hair on a troll doll. I loved playing with those troll doll mops of hair. Messing with Leo’s fringe of fur is just as much fun. He doesn’t mind because it means he is getting his head petted which he loves.

Leo was thought to be a year and a half old when we got him. We learned pretty quickly that could not have been true. First, the teenage hormones hit with a bang within days of bringing him home. Second over the first two months we had him, he was still growing. Leo didn’t have his adult fur coat until a few months later. You can see in the second picture that Leo in addition to that mop between the ears now has the around the face mane too. His isn’t as pronounced or thick as some I have seen in pictures of other Lionheads, but it is there now.

After he got his adult coat, I noticed what seemed to me like a strange fur growth pattern where the fur from his waist and around his behind on low on his sides had grown to where it was dragging on the floor. It looked weird to me since the fur along his backbone and to the sides of his backbone was much shorter. I was describing this on Etherbun and that is when I learned that Leo is double maned. I had assumed that a double mane must mean a thicker or second-growth of fur around the head. In reality, a double maned Lionhead has a mane around the head and a “skirt” of fur that runs around the lower sides and back of the body from waist to waist. Skirt is actually a very good description of that fur.  You can see in the last two pictures how the skirt can really hide his tail and feet.

So living with Leo has been a bit more challenging than we had expected. Since the shelter thought he was over a year old, we thought the fur coat we were getting in the first picture was the adult fur coat. We weren’t expecting all the fur in the lower pictures. The Lionhead coat has some decided challenges. First the shedding is awesome with little poofs of white fur floating around everywhere. I’m thankful I’m not allergic to rabbit fur.

That skirt mane is the second challenge.  The skirt drags everything around it comes in contact with. It is like having a living, breathing Swiffer broom in action. Everything on the floor he comes in contact with gets moved around all over the place and deposited where he stops. So little piles of fur, hay, paper or cardboard he has chewed off of boxes, all get swept up by the skirt and then redistributed all around the room. If my living Swiffer could learn how to deposit what he gathers up straight to a trash can, cleaning would be so much easier.

I’ve found that a weekly comb out of Leo is necessary.  His head mane and body fur on his back are usually in good shape, but the skirt mane is another story. The skirt tends to get tangled and sometimes holds on to bits of hay. If not attended to on a weekly basis, it would start to clump up and begin to form fur mats.  He begins to feel like he is attempting to grow multiple tails on his hind end.

Leo is not a happy camper about the grooming. He really hates it and no matter how gently I do it, he starts off with the heavy breathing, bugged out eye look the minute he is picked up for it. If he has some tangled areas, it can take a few minutes to gently work through them and he will sometimes start a pitiful crying sound which makes it really hard to keep grooming him. I am hoping he will grow more accustomed to handling over time. Tigger would do the same thing when very little, chattering her teeth when we had to do things for grooming or medications. As she got older, she finally seemed to realize that we weren’t seeking to harm her every time we picked her up. She still didn’t like it, but at least she stopped with the chattering teeth.

Leos Lionhead status is clear when looking at his two manes. My understanding is that a double mane Lionhead needs to have both parents be Lionheads. What confuses me though is that Leo’s adult size is above and beyond the size of most Lionheads. He was three and half pounds when we got him. Since Lionheads are not usually above four pounds that was one reason we at first thought the shelter might have his age set right. However, Leo was still growing and is now somewhere in the four to five pound range. So I am not sure if he had some recessive gene for a bigger size than normal.   We appear to have a giant Lionhead. It is kind of weird to be thinking that because Leo is a small rabbit.  He is just very very big for a Lionhead rabbit.

When Leo hens up to sleep, he has a bit of a fluffy marshmallow with chocolate sauce look which is so cute. I haven’t caught a picture of him like that yet and will have to try for one in the future. One thing is for certain and that is that his fur is the softest rabbit fur we have ever felt.  Previous rabbits Portia and Shadow were both fur breeds. Portia’s Chinchilla fur was soft due to its thickness. Shadow’s fur was Havana and it was the satin sheen of his fur that was notable. Tigger who was not a fur breed actually had the softest to the touch fur because it was such a baby fine fur. Leo beats out Tigger having even softer fur. It also amazes me the whiteness of his fur and in spite of dragging his skirt around everywhere just how clean the fur stays. I guess Leo and I together do a good job of keeping him well-groomed.

Later this week Leo is scheduled to have his yearly check up with a new vet. I’m going to see if she has any better suggestions for making his grooming routine more acceptable to him.

4 thoughts on “Learning About Lionheads

  1. Awww!!! He’s all grown up. Living Swiffer, lol. I fostered a French Angora who was a living Swiffer as well. Luckily she was much more tolerant of being groomed.

    My first experience with Lionheads was a litter brought to Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue back in 2006. Wendy kept one and named her Halo. I guess maybe a year later MHRR got Anastasia & Porscha, two double maned Lionheads. That’s when I learned about single mane vs double mane. Halo and her siblings were all single maned.

    • Leo’s objections to grooming seem a bit like the little boy thing with the “Aw mom, but I don’t want to get my hair combed”. Halo is a super cute and creative name for a Lionhead.

      • Actually I don’t know if the fact that she was a Lionhead came into thought with the name “Halo” although it really works. The name she came with when surrendered to the rescue was “Angel” and Wendy already had a bunny named Angel (BEW ND) so she wanted to change the name but keep it in the same spirit. Her husband, a fan of the video game Halo, I think was the one that suggested the name.

        • Well it seems that things happened in a way to bring Halo to a really good and unique name for her to have. Poor Leo didn’t even have a name with his first family. The shelter said they were just calling him Mr. Bunny but not even often enough for him to recognize that as his name. The shelter gave him the name Leo, but said we could change it if we wanted to since he hadn’t had time to connect the dots yet with that as his name. We thought it was a good name and stayed with that.

Leave a Reply