Lionhead Babies – Professional Photo Shoot #2

Our first three litters of 2016 – they are now a week old.  If you are interested in these babies, they will be ready to go by the end of March.  We will do our best to figure out their genders in six weeks.

A new color to our rabbitry – blue!



Below – we just had to do this…. it’s referencing for those who don’t remember this from years ago…. 🙂



Another new color for us – blue tort!







This is Blue Girl’s litter…. these have half of a pedigree (we do not have a pedigree on Blue, but we have one on Thor, her father).

From what we can see, we have one black, one blue, two blue torts, and three black torts.



These next ones are Khaleesi and Thors (full pedigree)…  We have two blue VCs, two blue torts, two black torts, and a black VM.



These are Dolly and Stormageddon’s (half pedigree) –  It appears we have two sables, two black VM otters, one dark otter that we are unsure of the color, a black VC, and a black otter.   Her last litter only had one otter – we are floored that there are so many.  You can see the two on the outside that are very tiny – those, Erynn is now hand raising.




Orphaned Baby Rabbits

What a blizzard…. We were hit with quite the blizzard this weekend….

norrisville maryland

The three does had very healthy litters last week.  There were no dead kits, and each mom had a perfect nest, and were caring well for them.  However, Erynn found two orphaned kits from Dolly last night.  Sometimes this happens.  They were kicked out of the nest.  It’s strange to see, but these two were not thriving – they were smaller than the rest even though they all started out the same.  If you look at the gray/blue one, you can see a shrunken wrinkled belly.  This indicates that he/she was not being fed enough.  None of the other five in this litter look like this.

ophraned-rabbitsThe only thing we can think of is that Dolly is not producing enough milk for all seven.  The other litters are fat and healthy.  Erynn took the two orphans and flipped Dolly over and forced her to nurse.  They nursed frantically, but not enough to fill them.  They were not satisfied and continued to be restless.  Because Khaleesi’s litter is super fat and healthy, Erynn flipped Khaleesi over and had her nurse the orphans.  They were nice and full.  Erynn will continue to do this until they are ready for solid food.

Why don’t you just put them in with another litter?  We could.  However, they only have 8 nipples.  We could put one of the orphans in with Khaleesi and one with Blue Girl – but, they are so much smaller, we are afraid they won’t be able to vie for that last spot.  We can also insure that they are being fed several times a day if we do it our way, and help them catch up to all the others.

So put them in with another litter when they catch up?  By the time they do catch up, we are risking the others rejecting as they may be too old for an easy transition.  So what will we do?  Erynn will just be handling them separately and in our house.  Currently, she is carrying them around in a pouch to keep them cozy and warm.  They are doing really well.  Very active.

runt-rabbitBut look at the size difference between another one in the same litter.   They all began the same size.

Now  we know that we will never breed Dolly without another rabbit also bred.  When Dolly has more than five kits, we will probably move some to another litter since Blue Girl and Khaleesi do not seem to have a problem with larger litters.  Or, we will just be vigilant and intervene when necessary.

Why not bottlefeed?  Bottle feeding baby rabbits is not a good idea unless it is last resort.  I have personally tried to raise a few wild litters and was very careful about feeding, etc., and still lost all but one.  When there is mother’s milk available, it is better to utilize it.

We handle our babies a lot, but one perk of now hand-raising these orphans is that they will be handled even more than the others.


Check out the video of “force nursing” with Dolly.   Have you ever seen a rabbit nurse?  I haven’t!  Not until now anyway.

Not sure Dolly is thrilled to be forced to nurse

A video posted by Jodie Holstein Otte (@jodieotte) on

Khaleesi is being pretty patient and allowing these two to nurse on her.  I don’t think she’s happy about it, but at least she is letting it happen.

I have to give a little shout out to my daughter.  As soon as Erynn found the two orphans outside the nest, she immediately took Dolly and flipped her – she didn’t bother consulting me, but she didn’t need to – this girl has already researched scenarios such as these and knew exactly what to do.  I’m a very proud momma!  🙂

Erynn has Khaleesi being a part time wet nurse for Dolly’s two orphans.

A video posted by Jodie Holstein Otte (@jodieotte) on

Three healthy litters!

The recent births….


newborn-rabbitsI wanted to get this out earlier, and if you follow my instagram or my facebook account, you may already know about all of this, so let’s recap….

Blue Girl was the first to have her litter.  Sunday afternoon (January 17, 2015), Erynn found seven beautiful little babies in Blue Girl’s nest.  They are nice and healthy and look like little pigs – way different than Boosh’s premature litter here.


The fact that Blue Girl gave birth 3 days after Boosh definitely concludes that Boosh’s litter was premature.


newborn-lionheadThis is what these little ones are supposed to look like – plump and dry.  Boosh’s babies were very thin and sticky.  Sticky is the word I would have to describe for them.  Their skin was not ready to see the light of day.  The little ones stuck together and had to be gently pried apart.  I know that sounds terrible, but these articles are meant to be informative as well.  It was so nice to feel these plump, warm, and dry newborns…

We do handle the babies within the first day or two.  We want the does to continue to trust us, and we want the little ones to get used to human smells.  After all, they are meant to be handled as pets.


Khaleesi had at least six.

A video posted by Jodie Holstein Otte (@jodieotte) on

By Sunday evening, we noticed Khaleesi was frantically building her nest.  Erynn and I sat quietly in the rabbit house and watched her (Khaleesi doesn’t get phased by people around – she is a really great mother).   She turned her back to us birthed – guess what?  Another seven (we counted later) Check out the video above of the last one scrambling for heat….


Dolly gave birth overnight to – another SEVEN!  What are the chances that all four of the does would each have seven litters?

Erynn had to move Dolly and Khaleesi’s nests into the nesting boxes (because of this past fall’s surprise litters from them, they had birthed in the corners and must think that’s the place to birth as Blue Girl had no problem using the nesting box we provided.

All three mothers were doing a great job.  It has gotten very cold in Maryland.  I will do an article on our winterizing in the future.  They pulled out a lot of fur and covered their little ones and have been attentive.  Dolly is still her odd standoffish self, but Blue Girl and Khaleesi have exceeded our expectations.


Photographing Newborn Rabbits

With our two lionhead litters in Fall of 2015, we performed a bit of a photo shoot.  As the mom half of this rabbitry, I bring to the table, my years as a professional photographer and couldn’t wait to get my hands on these newborns for a shoot.

JODIE-OTTE-PHOTOGRAPHERI won’t tell all my secrets for getting these images, but it is a tedious and careful process insuring safety.  I will give a warning – this is not something that is easily accomplished, and I caution anyone who is trying this.  If the bunny is moving and not sleeping, the bunny is uncomfortable and needs to be returned to the nest immediately.  They can also be spastic with their movements if they feel discomfort or are hungry.  Do not force them.  I have 12 years of experience working with newborn human babies at J. Otte Newborns.

We will be doing an official photoshoot after each new group of kits, adding some interesting twists each time.  Already planning out our next one for our January 2016 births.

This was our natural photo shoot.  I didn’t want to get too proppy, and instead, just concentrated on the curled form of each little one.  We will get a bit more adventurous from time to time.

vienna-marked-lionhead sable-baby-lionhead BEW-lionhead-baby BEW-lionhead newborn-rabbit-lionhead lionhead-newborn lionhead-kit lionhead-babies chocolate-lionhead-baby chocolate-lionhead-newborn lionhead-baby-colors siamese-sable-baby-lionhead how-to-photograph-baby-rabbits

A True Anomaly in Lionhead – Sectoral Heterochromia

We named our rabbitry for the Vienna gene anomaly – not that it is a true anomaly, but it is not the most popular among lionhead breeders.

Check out two of our horses below – this is Stormy and Pixie, mom and daughter – both paint horses.  Mom has one blue eye, but their base coats are not white – the paint gene creates white over the base coats, similarly to the Vienna gene.

Fascinated with the paint gene, Erynn (the daughter half of the rabbitry), decided the vienna gene was what she would pursue in the lionheads.

paint horses

(by the way, Stormy and Pixie not only are paints, but they have a champagne gene, which is on the rare side, making Stormy’s other eye and both of Pixie’s eyes amber instead of brown, and their base coat colors are amber cream champagne and classic champagne respectively)


blue eyed vienna marked lionheadA Vienna-Marked Lionhead

As you can see here, this would be a Vienna-Marked lionhead – has a base coat (in this particular case, black is the base) plus the white markings and blue eyes.  This is typically how you would see a VM lionhead.

rabbit two color eyesSectoral Heterochromia

However, we had a surprise kit in Stormageddon and Dolly’s litter – we had a sable with one brown eye and one half brown/half blue eye which is called

Sectoral Heterochromia

– a true anomaly!



blue eyed white lionhead breederBlue-Eyed White (BEW)

Vienna Marked or Vienna Carrier Lionhead Rabbits are the result of breeding one or more rabbits that have the Vienna gene – but keep in mind, breeding two rabbits with the Vienna gene will do the following:

(This is straight from Erynn)

Two VMs bred will give 25% BEWs and 50% VMs and 25% noncarriers (which we label as VC on our pedigree as we cannot test definitively ourselves which are carriers and which are not).  VM bred to BEW gives 50% BEW and 50% VM.

 BEWs are a showable color in the lionhead world.

Lionhead Rabbit Babies

We are a lionhead rabbit breeding facility located in Northern Maryland.  We service the areas of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and West Virginia.   We do not ship our rabbits, but you are welcome to road trip our way by appointment!


While we do not breed every doe year round, we do typically have something available or we can tell you a date when we are expecting.   Check out what we are expecting here.

Below, you will see two of our litters that we photographed at approximately two weeks old.  We do breed for pet and show quality depending upon what we are working on at the moment.  Prices range from $35-$75 depending upon what is produced at the current time.

We typically expect to see the following colors:

Sable, Siamese Sable, Black Torte, Black, Chocolate, Blue-Eyed White


However, we are very clear which lines contain the Vienna gene (the vienna gene is what creates white or blue eyes in rabbits – similarly to the paint gene in horses – at this time, vienna markings are not permitted in showing lionhead rabbits, unless they are blue eyed white – BEW).  We document the following in our pedigrees if they apply (we do not always breed with vienna genes):

BEW – Blue-Eyed White  (BEWs result from breeding two VM or VCs together or breeding two BEWs)

VM – Vienna Marked – This is obvious white markings or blue eyes that can be observed

VC – Vienna Carrier – This means that in the pedigree, there are VM rabbits.  This indicates that the rabbit potentially carries the Vienna gene even if you cannot see it.  Future breeding could result in a Vienna-marked offspring.


Baby Lionhead Rabbits for sale

Very very excited for this weekend.  My daughter and I are taking on a project with the current nine kits.  The outskirts of the hurricane are keeping us indoors – all horse shows and photo shoots have been canceled due to rain, so it’s time to “play”….. stay tuned, this is going to be a super fun project.

They are growing so quickly, we must do this project NOW.

I know, I may have a problem, but when I see a little face like this, I just want to kiss this baby bunny lips…. that’s weird, I know…..

baby lionhead rabbits for sale

The Build…. Chicken House converted into Rabbit House

Poor Erynn had six rabbits in her room in various cages, boxes, etc. for a few weeks.  Dean and I finally managed to get the chicken house converted into a rabbit house.  There is much more work that needs to be done, but here is the progress.

Dean did an amazing job.  I would have thrown something together that would have been sufficient but not as well done as what he did.

This chicken house was purchased six years ago at an Amish market near us.  It is still in great shape.  When I first bought the house, I had put in the cheapest tile I could find, and I am so thankful I put that over the plywood because it made cleaning much much easier.

chicken house beforeI started with power washing out the entire inside.   I pulled up a few of the tiles that were damaged and replaced them.

I then placed simple styrofoam insulation between the studs of just the bottom level (we will be doing the roof and upper portions prior to winter).  Next, Dean enclosed insulation with plywood.  This insulating had to take place before we could build the hutches as we wouldn’t be able to insulate later.

The complete project.   We based the dimensions on the dog crate trays that I had purchased for $10 each online months ago.  They are 2 feet by 3 feet – more than enough room for comfortable bunnies.

Dean did the construction, I built the dividers and the doors.  Teamwork!

do it yourself rabbit hutches


While there are currently eight indoor hutches, I will be adding up to four more on the top level prior to winter.  The next step is to build the outdoor hutches that will be for the heat of the summer – shaded, protected, etc.

I had to add the bench in here – it’s so clean and lovely to sit down and visit with the rabbits.  The wall on the right has four windows, and the wall with the door also has a window.  We may add one more window, some shelves, and I will be covering the windows with shade cloth as it gets warm and while we are building the outdoor area.

rabbit hutchesrabbit hutch

More than enough room.  I will start the nesting boxes next as some of the rabbits want to use their litterboxes as beds.