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Why Is My Rabbit's Ear Floppy? Lop Genes and Other Causes

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Bunniez is a rabbit lover and has expertise in husbandry and grooming techniques for long-haired lagomorphs.

Why do some rabbits' ears remain upright throughout their lives while others' suddenly flop?

Why do some rabbits' ears remain upright throughout their lives while others' suddenly flop?

One Ear Up, One Ear Down: Floppy-Eared Bunnies

Why do some bunnies have ears that point straight up and other rabbits have ears that flop over? I was recently asked the following question:

Why does one of my bunnies' ears stay fallen over? None of his brothers have ears like that. He's a Netherland mixed with a Flemish giant and he is the only rabbit I have with one ear that will not stay up.

It is difficult to answer this question with complete confidence because we do not know the true breeding of the rabbits in question. If the rabbits have been bred in a home environment or purchased from a pet store for breeding, it is highly likely that you do not have pure Flemish Giant or pure Netherland rabbit genes in the mix. What does that mean? It could mean that some "lop" genes have snuck into the gene pool somewhere and expressed themselves in this one little rabbit.

3 Reasons a Rabbit May Have a Floppy Ear

  1. The rabbit may have "lop" genes.
  2. Heat can cause floppy ears in Flemish giants.
  3. Floppy ears may be the result of an injury.
One ear up, one ear down. So cute, but why does it happen?

One ear up, one ear down. So cute, but why does it happen?

1. The Rabbit May Have "Lop" Genes

Rabbits whose ears flop over are referred to as "lops." The lop gene is present in many different strains of rabbits. A common type of lop is the mini-lop, but there are also Holland lops and other kinds of lops. If a rabbit with any lop genes in its genotype was bred into the lines of your rabbits, that could explain a floppy ear. If the rabbits are very young, you may find that more bunnies develop floppy ears as they grow older.

2. Heat Can Cause Floppy Ears in Flemish Giants

There is another possible cause of floppy ears, however, especially in Flemish Giants, and that is heat. Rabbits do not do very well with prolonged exposure to heat in general, and Flemish Giants in particular are prone to developing floppy ears if they are too hot. In the case of this particular question, however, it sounds as if all the rabbits are being kept together and only one rabbit has a floppy ear.

3. Injury Can Cause Floppy Ears in Any Breed of Rabbit

Another possible cause is injury. Has your rabbit been subject to some sort of injury, either in its hutch or with other rabbits? It is hard to tell from the way the question is phrased if this is one rabbit from a litter that is being kept alone and has a floppy ear or if it is in with its brothers and sisters, in which case injury is a very real possibility.

Is There Any Way to Know for Sure?

So, to summarize, the answer to this question of "Why is my bunny's ear flopping over?" is "It depends." Possible answers include the following:

  • It could be a recessive genetic trait that's being expressed in this rabbit only.
  • It could be a trait that more rabbits will show as they age.
  • It could be the result of injury.
  • It could be a result of being too hot.

If your rabbit eats and drinks well and appears bright and healthy and not in pain, it is probably of no great concern.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


S on July 07, 2020:

Some rabbits are dose silly to pick up and have a hold of witch is not friendly to hold.

Sara on October 08, 2019:

Our rabbit that is 2 months old and his ears are allways down why?

Donna pullen on April 23, 2019:

Hi i have a giant flemish and recently both of her ears have flopped but to the same side i know flopped ear rabbits hang but they hang on both sides not just one side. What could be wrong with mine. Thanks

Toinette on June 08, 2018:

How do you make rabbits ears flop

Solorio Family on May 11, 2018:

I have a 2.5 month old female rabbit I don’t know what breed she is but when i got her ; her ears were up and she was tiny not even a pound . A weekend goes by her ears are fell over and she grew dramatically she weighs like 3 pounds now . She’s eating normal like she’s happy and healthy . Any explanations?

Angela on April 03, 2018:

um so if you have a lop like me and its ears (both) lop that is normal because of genetics there is something called a "crown" which is a bulk of bone on your rabbits head which causes their ears to lop.

lily franken on March 28, 2016:

thank you i have a rabbit named harold with the same isshu but i now know that he is alright

Carlos Soto on March 25, 2013:

In my experience it is due to the prolong heat exposure, what i do not know is if the ears will come up once the summer heat descends.

Texas Boer Goats on July 05, 2011:

Ahhh... how cute! I love your rabbit picture :P

gwyneth24 on July 05, 2011:

i know is so cute loria moore

Rabbit Breeders on May 24, 2011:

Sometimes rabbits with huge ears in general have this trouble.

Rochelle on April 04, 2011:

My rabbit is 6months and was part of a home bred litter.. And some were along the lines of my rabbits family they was crossed with a lopp.. In many it never showed and only in some it did.. When i got my rabbit his ears were straight but now his left ear lopp's and the right stays up but can bend down witch he never does.. The vet has looked at his ears a number of times and his ears are fine.. So it depends on the history of his late past family :) x

loriamoore on October 11, 2010:

So cute.