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mane pictorial



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Mane Pictorial

Mane and Coat Development


Lionheads have some unique genes that cause a wooly "mane" to grow around their neck, over their forehead, chest and shoulders (like a tiny lion). These genes can also cause wool to grow on the lower sides and the hips (a "skirt"). There are a few different factors at work that influence how and where and why this happens.


First, rabbits get half of all their genes from each parent. So a lionhead can get one copy of a gene for a mane (or a single-mane lion) or two copies of the mane gene (a double-mane lion). As a general rule of thumb, a lion with one mane gene often has a nice mane and little wool on the rest of the body as a youngster, which is desirable, but then as an adult might shed out most of its mane. A double-mane lion has a denser, thicker mane but often excess wool on the rest of its body – wool on its lower sides and butt (a "skirt" - not desirable, but permissable). To have the correct coat for a lionhead, there HAS to be a clear, distinct break between the wool of the mane and any wool on the rest of the body. The break is normal fur and occurs just above the foreleg. The saddle area (over the back down to the hips and tail) must shed out any baby wool and carry normal fur also, for a showable rabbit.


Newborn Rabbits


Reddish fur growing in and bald areas (inside
red line) where wool will grow in


Second, the lionhead's coat also goes through a lot of extreme changes in a relatively short length of time. Newborns start life naked but within hours, visible fuzz appears on the body. If the rabbit carries 2 genes for a mane, it becomes obvious very quickly. Within a couple days, distinct specific areas are still nearly bald – the top of the head, cheeks, back of the neck and over the hips. This is where the wool will grow in, much more slowly (for several weeks) than the rest of the fur. (Single-mane lionhead babies just have normal fuzz all over).


Baby lionhead 8 weeks


Wool on face coming in
looks more like a guinea pig
10 weeks


Very long wool beginning
to shed out a break
and clear saddle


Saddle clearing (red)
still needs to clear (green)


Third, as the rabbit matures, the wool becomes longer, thicker and denser, often even obscuring the young bunny's eyes. At the same time, any baby wool on the bunny's back should shed out to normal fur and a break should appear behind the mane.

Mature lionhead coat - adult doe with fully cleared saddle area,
(obviously a "break") and some wool left on hips.



Last edited on 4/24/10 7:35pm EDT by