Is Belgian hare suitable as a pet or just for meat purposes? Can one rare these domestic rabbits with ease? No doubt, if you love raring animals, then you should find the Belgian hare intriguing.
However, the Belgian hare is known to be nervous around people. They also require a lot in terms of maintenance. Therefore, you should spend more time understanding how to care for a Belgian hare before raring one.
So, what are Belgian hares, and how do you breed or care for these domestic animals? Let’s find out more in this guide.
What is a Belgian Hare?
The Belgian hare refers to a domestic rabbit breed obtained through selective breeding. Belgian hares are large rabbits that have a close resemblance to wild hares. Although they are sometimes skittish, Belgian hare rabbits are beautiful and clever pets.
Belgian hare originated from Belgium in the 18th century. But today, they are popular pets in the United States. They also make exciting delicacies for meat lovers. Have you seen those rabbit look-alike with long ears and powerful hind legs? Well, you could be looking at a Belgian hare!
Belgian hare has undergone selective breeding. That’s why the rabbit looks like wild hares. But you will discover that Belgian hare is fine-boned rabbit breeds. They have slender and wiry body frames with pretty long and strong limbs.
On average, an adult Belgian hare can weigh between 6-9 pounds. Their intelligence and attractiveness make them popular pets and show animals. Once domesticated, the Belgian hare looks beautiful and clever. They are intelligent, attractive, and could be skittish. I guess that’s why Belgian hares are popular as pets.
Just like other domestic animals, Belgian hares require special care. Do you intend to get a Belgian hare for keeps? Well, this guide is for you. Let’s help you get the correct information to start breeding this lovely rabbit.
What are the Best Belgian Hare Breeds?
There are no best breeds or variety of Belgian hare. So, are you looking to get the finest species of fine boned Belgian hare? What you may end up with is a wild hare or rabbit.
However, you can search for purebred Belgian hare. But, the National Belgian Hare Clubs agree that purebreds are now very rare.
If you finally find one, expect quite a lot of mood swings and temperamental issues. Belgian hares are excitable fine boned domestic rabbits. It is about the most temperamental breeds available today.
Are Belgian Hares Rabbits?
Yes, Belgian hares are not actual hares. Instead, they are domesticated rabbits that have undergone selective breeding to look like wild hares. The American Rabbit Breeders Association ARBA identifies the Belgian hare as a rabbit breed. Although Belgian hares are somewhat common, purebreds are rare. However, the American breed conservation agency says that the Belgian hare is a recovering breed.
Belgian hare breeding was as a rabbit for and to serve as meat in the 18th century. The others underwent care as Belgian hares from the wild. These finer breeds of hares were used more for fancy exhibitions due to their good looks. So, in the United States, they served as meat and sports.
Belgian Hare Characteristics and Behaviors
The Belgian hare is a large rabbit breed and is well known for its slender frame. It has an arch back, with long, straight forelimbs and powerful hind feet.
The Belgian hare has a rich coat or fur like that of a wild hare. Therefore, you will discover different coat colors. They have black, chestnut, red, tan, black, and tan types of Belgian hare.
Belgian hare also has a face that is more similar to that of a wild hare. As a result, the Belgian hare has a longer head than those of other rabbit breeds. They also have long and straight ears, which further distinguishes them from other rabbits. It is due to the hare-like features the Belgian hare earned the nickname racehorse of rabbits.
Belgian hares are very active and energetic domestic rabbits. But please monitor their activities because they could hurt their hind feet from leaping. They are also very clever rabbit breeds and are easy to train. Belgian hares can undergo training on how to respond to their names. Is it time to feed them? Simply call out their pet name, and here they come running to mama!
Since Belgian hare has a skittish nature, they quickly get startled by a sudden noise. So they love running and jumping around the yard. It is a great way to burn their energy and relieve tension.
Belgian hares are not aggressive but detest sudden noise. But they can kick at the slightest feeling of being under threat. Typically, they like being on the move or free. But they will understand and get used to been domesticated.
Belgian hare do not fancy being cuddled and pampered as most pets do. Instead, they loved to run and jump about in the yard. Also, maybe because of their thick fur, Belgian hare detests highly humid environments.
Do Belgian Hares Make Good Pets?
Belgian hares are lovely, active, and intelligent pets that are easy to rare. But because they are active animals, they are not suitable for indoor living. They prefer to run and jump about in the open. So, are you thinking of getting a Belgian hare for keeps? Then it would help if you got an outdoor enclosure for their home.
Once they get accustomed to their new outdoor home, they will stick around.
How Well Do Belgian Hares Get Along With Other Pets?
A Belgian hare can get along with other rabbits, especially other Belgian hares. However, because they are nervous and prey animals, they don’t get along well with other pets.
It would be disastrous to pair a Belgian hare with a cat or a dog. If you’re breeding Belgian hares, then you should protect them from these domestic predators. Belgian hare can become familiar with rodents and other household pets but still prefer their space.
Maybe due to their excitement, the Belgian hare serves as a source of entertainment at shows. But, unfortunately, this species of rabbit will soon go extinct because very few people still breed them.
How Long Do Belgian Hares Live?
Belgian hares have a lifespan of 7-11 years. However, some are known to have lived a bit longer. The life expectancy can improve with better care. But they rarely live to see 11 years due to size. The smaller Belgian hare rabbits tend to live closer to the end of their lifespan.
To have a rabbit with a long lifespan, I suggest you go for the Belgian hare bunny. Bunny rabbits are more adaptable and require less maintenance, unlike the Belgian hare.
How to Breed Belgian Hare at Home
Bringing Your Domestic Rabbit Home
When you bring your Belgian hares home, you must quarantine them. Please do not touch or let the kids play with them. Instead, keep the Belgian hares isolated. During this period, it’s essential that you carefully observe the Belgian hare’s behavior. You want to see any sign of illness or discomfort requiring medical attention.
Quarantining helps ensure that new Belgian hares do not have infectious diseases. Thus, you can protect other pets in your home from such conditions. And because animals experience stress during shipment, quarantining helps the rabbit adjust to its new environment.
Ideally, it is better to house the Belgian hares outdoors. However, they are large rabbits with a need for more playroom. Putting them in smaller spaces could make them fall sick.
The minimum enclosure per Belgian hare should be 24 by 60 by 24 inches. A pregnant Belgian hare would require larger housing. The cage should have three compartments, each for feeding, nestling, and litter.
You may need to plan once the Belgian hare becomes expectant. You can have a tray and water bottle in the feeding area of the Belgian hare. You can ideally separate the nestling area from the litter area.
It is more suitable to use an enclosure with a latch. That will help the Belgian hare differentiate the nestling area from the litter room.
The litter area is where your Belgian hares go for potty. So, you don’t want the hare infecting itself or other rabbits.
Most American rabbit breeders use litter shavings for the potty area. Therefore, it is a lot easier to clean the shavings. Plus, Belgian hares are pretty easy to potty train. Thus, cleaning your Belgian hare house may seem easier than you think.
When it comes to breeding rabbits, fresh water and quality hay cannot be ruled out. Like other rabbit breeds, Belgian hares need a rich supply of fresh water and hay. Hay accounts for 70% of the diet of Belgian hares. In addition, hay helps for easy digestion because of the fiber or roughage content.
Of all the varieties of hay available, Timothy hay is most popular amongst American rabbit breeders. You can get Timothy hay from any pet store, such as the National Pet Stock.
So, how about the other 30% of the Belgian hare diet? Vegetables, fruits, pellets, and leafy greens make up the remaining 30 percent. But you can make these meals part of their dinner only. It will help the hare utilize these nutrients without disrupting their main hay diet.
Belgian hares can do well under a wide range of temperatures. However, they thrive best in more temperate regions. Thus, extremely hot or humid environments are not suitable for breeding Belgian hares.
Keeping Your Domestic Rabbits Healthy
Just like other pets, Belgian hares require regular sanitation. However, they usually like a clean environment and will gladly take part in the cleaning exercise. That means you don’t have to clean their coats each time they play in the yard. They will gladly clean up their fur and paw using their tongues. A well-trained Belgian hare knows where to go for potty, eat or sleep.
Having spacious play and resting areas will help improve the overall wellbeing of the Belgian hare. So, give them enough playroom to exercise their feet. Such exercise is vital for burning their nervous energy.
However, since they are vulnerable domestic animals, they also need special attention and care. So how can you ensure your Belgian hare gets the required attention and care?
A good practice is to ensure your Belgian hares get quality feeds. Feed them with quality hay, vegetables, fruits, pellets, and leafy greens. In addition, try to provide a constant supply of clean freshwater.
Remember not to feed your Belgian hare with an inappropriate diet like iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value for domestic rabbits.
Another way to keep your Belgian hares healthy is to ensure they’re free from ear mites. Also, watch out for flystrike. Flystrike is when flies lay eggs on the damp furs of your Belgian hares. If you notice any of these issues, please take your Belgian hare to the vet immediately. You will also need to de-warm your domestic rabbits regularly, preferably every fall and spring.
Keep Their Teeth in Check
The fact is, the teeth of rabbits never stop growing. Thus, it is a suitable breeding practice to care for their teeth. You can do this by providing them with something to chew. Chewing roughages help keep their teeth filed and trimmed.
Accessories for Belgian Hares
Belgian hares can get really nervous sometimes. Thus, they need mental stimulation. Belgian hares can play with golf balls as well as PVC tubbings. Putting these and other toys in their enclosure will keep them entertained. It is an excellent way to relieve tension from the rabbit.
Reproduction in Belgian Hare
Belgian hare breeds more during summer. Therefore, they usually require adequate lighting when it is breeding time. Remember, they are temperamental and conscious of their environment?
However, it doesn’t mean Belgian hare do not breed at other seasons. You only need to provide adequate lighting in their home. Lighting creates a warm environment and can even stimulate breeding.
It is better to bring the doe to the buck if you intend to breed Belgian hares. That’s because they are territorial animals and will try to protect their space. However, once they are in an enclosed space, they will sooner see the buck as their mate.
Bucks, on the other hand, are more accommodating. But if no mating takes place after 10 minutes, take the buck out. Then, reintroduce them in the enclosure when things have settled.
You require a lot of patience when it is time to breed Belgian hares. You may need to reintroduce the buck several times before the mating process begins. Also, you may need to start planning for a bigger home for the pregnant doe. Belgian hare litter size is generally between 4 and 8 kittens.
Should You Buy a Belgian Hare?
Belgian hares are naturally energetic animals. Therefore, they need bigger enclosures than other rabbit breeds. Nevertheless, they are relatively easy to take care of and train. So, if you have an adequate outdoor section, you can consider getting a Belgian hare. On the other hand, it may be challenging to breed Belgian hare. It is worse with breeding Belgian hare with minimal outdoor space.
Belgian hares are an exciting breed to rare. Caring for these long-ear rabbits may seem challenging at first. But once you understand how to care for Belgian hare, you will enjoy the ride.