What Makes Rabbit Ears Go Floppy?
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 simply because we do not truly know the 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
- The rabbit may have "lop" genes.
- Heat can cause floppy ears in Flemish giants.
- Floppy ears may be the result of an injury.
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 rabbit. 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'. It could be a recessive genetic trait that happens to be 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, or 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.