Personally, I hate to read this news about those adorable, floppy-eared rabbits. I had one as a kid, and it was one of my favorite pets ever – he was funny and sweet and loved to snuggle as much as he enjoyed a well-timed nip.
The sad truth, though, is that lop-eared rabbits aren’t natural – they only exist because of intentional human breeding, and they suffer multiple health problems and not-insignificant discomfort because of it.
A new study compared the aural and dental health of lop-eared rabbits with that of erect-eared rabbits and found that floppy-eared bunnies are more than 15 times more likely to show signs of being in pain during examinations.
Researchers discovered that their discomfort is likely due to their warped skull shape, a narrowing of the ear canal, and the resulting build-up of ear wax. It leads to a condition called otitis externa, an inflammation of the ear canal.
Most lop-eared rabbits examined were also hard of hearing, if not completely deaf.
None of the erect-eared rabbits had any of these issues.
The alterations that allow for their ears to flop also affects the rabbits’ teeth, making them 12 times more likely to have oversized molars, and 23 times more likely to suffer from diseased incisors.
Study author Charlotte Burn hopes the findings from this study will be supported by more like it in the future, and that people looking to own rabbits will take note.
“People now need to weigh up whether those cute floppy ears are worth the risk of pain, deafness, and difficulty eating for the rabbit, not to mention the extra vet bills.”
I hope that people care more about the health of their pets than the way they look, but the fact that pugs and French bulldogs are still so popular don’t give me much hope.