Polish Rabbit or Britannia Petite Rabbit

The Polish Rabbit is named after its shiny ‘polished’ coat, not because it comes from Poland. The little British Polish rabbit is a lively and intelligent bunny.

Size and weight of the Polish rabbit

The Polish rabbit is a dwarf breed weighing 0.7 to 1.2 kgs

Colour varieties of the Polish rabbit

The Polish rabbit comes in a variety of colours including:

  • Solid white (with or without red eyes)
  • Black otter
  • Black
  • Chestnut (Argouti)
  • Sable

Country of origin

The breed was developed in England.

Time of original development

The 1880s

Polish rabbit breed introduction and overview

Developed in the UK in the 1880s from rabbits of Dutch and Belgian origin and although small in size it was originally bred for meat – being known at that time as the Belgian Table Rabbit(!) and was a great delicacy. The British rabbit is more slender than the American version of the Polish that was developed from rabbits exported there in the early 20th century. In America the English Polish became known as the Britannia Petite. The names seems to be interchangeable now to many people in the UK, but it should be born in mind that the British and American Polish Rabbit breed are distinct from each other.

This very fine animal is like a hare in miniature, holding itself upright with a cresent shaped back, like a Belgian Hare rabbit. It has a small alert head, like a little triangle, with large eyes and constantly alert upstanding ears.

Habitat and feeding requirements of the Polish rabbit

To be happy, this active intelligent little rabbit needs lots of opportunities to exercise, sunbathe (though with shade available too) and nibble grass, it loves to be outdoors

Feed a standard rabbit diet to ensure good digestion, avoid obesity and give proper wear on the rabbit’s continually growing teeth. See our article on feeding your rabbit.

Does the Polish rabbit make a good pet for smaller children?

Despite their ‘cute’ appearance rabbits are not ideal for very small children to handle unless they are closely supervised together. Rabbits should be socialised young to human company and young people should be told how to hold a rabbit properly, so that it feels secure. If any rabbit becomes frightened, the rabbit’s desire to escape means that its powerful back legs can injure the human handler and can cause the rabbit to be dropped and injure itself. This rabbit is also inclined to nip and scratch

The Polish rabbit is not a great rabbit for small children, as it is not fond of being held. The breed is also very delicate and quite highly strung. Having said that they do enjoy human interaction if socialised young and can be very entertaining – they will enjoy being with people and being free to climb over their bodies! The rabbit can be trained to use a litter tray, and would appreciate somewhere to go for time out in a busy household. Hide all wires and cables and be careful to note that this slim little animal can fit into the tiniest spaces where you may not be able to reach it. Not recommended as a first rabbit given its quite excitable nature.

Always keep your rabbits safe from dogs and cats who may harm them. Even where pets ‘get on’, they should be supervised when together and you must ensure that your rabbit is not stressed by being exposed to other animals or people.

Grooming requirements of the Polish rabbit

The smooth short shiny coat would benefit from a good brush at least once a week more during moulting. Additionally, as rabbits’ teeth keep growing throughout their lives, eating the right food will help to keep the teeth properly ground down, but you do need to check, on a frequent basis that this is happening properly, or your pet may need to have its teeth ground down by the vet.

Health issues in the Polish rabbit

This rabbit is a reasonably healthy breed even though it is not long lived. As with all rabbits, however, check that its bottom is clean of any debris and is kept dry to avoid the danger of flystrike. Please see our article on flystrike. Keep your rabbit at the correct weight so that it can move easily to groom itself.

Teeth and also toe nails should be checked frequently to ensure they are not growing too long.

Female rabbits should be neutered if you do not intend to breed from them to avoid cancers in later life. Males will become less aggressive if neutered too.

As with all pedigree pets, it is very important to obtain a young rabbit or rabbit kit from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding any inherent problems found in the breed.

Average lifespan of the Polish rabbit

A Polish rabbit can expect to enjoy a life expectancy of between 5-8 years.

Estimating how much it will cost to keep your Polish rabbit

A pedigree Polish/Britannia Petite rabbit will cost around £30.

While the initial cost of a pedigree rabbit may seem very low compared to pure bred dogs or even cats, the costs of the following items and procedures make the cost of owning a rabbit mount up:

  • buying a sufficiently large hutch and run
  • specialised feeding and bedding
  • annual inoculations
  • neutering
  • on-going dental care
  • insurance

Rabbits should also be kept in pairs. It is estimated that two rabbits together could cost around £1800 a year throughout their lives, including the initial outlay. See our article on working out the cost of keeping a pet rabbit.