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CIRCUS LIONS RABBITRY

Lionhead rabbits for sale in Northeast PA

Lionhead Mane and Coat Development Pictorial

 

Lionheads have some unique genes that cause a wooly "mane" to grow around their neck, over their forehead, chest and shoulders (like a tiny lion). These genes can also cause wool to grow on the lower sides and the hips (a "skirt"). There are a few different factors at work that influence how and where and why this happens.

First, rabbits get half of all their genes from each parent. So a lionhead can get one copy of a gene for a mane (or a single-mane lion) or two copies of the mane gene (a double-mane lion). As a general rule of thumb, a lion with one mane gene often has a nice mane and little wool on the rest of the body as a youngster, which is desirable, but then as an adult might shed out most of its mane. A double-mane lion has a denser, thicker mane but often excess wool on the rest of its body – wool on its lower sides, hips and butt (a "skirt" - not desirable, but permissable. This is "transition wool" and is not to be over 2" in length, per the standard. If there is wool on the face below between the ears, this must not be over 1").  To have the correct coat for a lionhead, there HAS to be a clear, distinct break between the wool of the mane and any wool on the rest of the body. The break is normal fur and occurs just above the foreleg. The saddle area (over the back down to the hips and tail) must shed out any baby wool and carry normal fur also, for a showable rabbit.

 

Newborn double mane lionhead rabbits

 

Double mane lionhead rabbit kit a frw days old showing bald areas (inside red line) where wool will grow in. Single mane lionheads have normal fuzz all over and no bald areas.

 

Second, the lionhead's coat also goes through a lot of extreme changes in a relatively short length of time. Newborns start life naked but within hours, visible fuzz appears on the body. If the rabbit carries 2 genes for a mane, it becomes obvious very quickly. Within a couple days, distinct specific areas are still nearly bald – the top of the head, cheeks, back of the neck and over the hips. This is where the wool will grow in, much more slowly (for several weeks) than the rest of the fur. (Single-mane lionhead babies just have normal fuzz all over).

 
 

baby seal point lionhead 8 weeks

 

blue point lionhead rabbit doe
10 weeks

 
 

This young lionhead doe has very long wool almost everywhere on her body.  She's beginning to shed out a "break" behind her front leg and her saddle area has begun to clear.

 

The same rabbit from above. She has started to shed out to normal fur inside the red line but still needs to shed out the whole area within the green line.

 

Third, as the rabbit matures, the wool becomes longer, thicker and denser, often even obscuring the young bunny's eyes. At the same time, any baby wool on the bunny's back should shed out to normal fur and a break should appear behind the mane.  Ideally, there should be no wool on the body, except for the mane around the neck, but rabbits that keep a mane often have wool on the hips and a skirt.  I had a judge recently disqualify one of my rabbits for "no break" when he had a mane but a clean body.  This judge was incorrect and misunderstood what the standard calls for; apparently he thought the transition wool was supposed to be there, probably from seeing it on so many lionheads that he'd judged.

If you look at Suki in the photo below, you can see the obvious "diffusion" of the black color in her wooly mane, making her appear to be a rabbit with 2 different colors, black and gray.  She's definitely a black rabbit and just one color.  It's one of the nice features of black; it shows the contrast between the mane and the normal fur so distinctly.

 
 

Mature lionhead rabbit coat - adult doe with fully cleared saddle area,
(obviously a "break"-normal fur between mane and any other wool) and some wool left on hips
Mountain's Infineon - "Suki"

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