Before choosing a rabbit for your family, you should consider exactly what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a big rabbit or a small one? A long coat or a short?One rabbit or two (or more!)? Each type and breed have its specific requirements and I’ve tried to go through them all for you here.
What age of rabbit you’re looking for is also important. Baby rabbits are cute and you’ll have the pleasure of watching your bunny grow up – but you’ll also have to deal with the hormonal ‘teenage’ months before your bunny reaches full growth, take care of neutering your pet and remember that many rabbits change their characters as they grow up. A cuddly clingy baby may grow up into an aloof adult – or a stand-offish baby may become an attention-seeking cuddle-monster!
On the whole, big rabbits, like big dogs, have shorter lifespans than their smaller relations. The real giants are expensive to feed and house because of their sheer size, while the tiny dwarf breeds are more fragile and need gentler handling, but may live for many more years.
Very long haired rabbits, like Angoras, need the time and attention of daily grooming. Don’t consider choosing a rabbit with long hair unless you’re able to commit to this daily routine! If you’re short on time, look for a short haired breed. Long-haired breeds can’t be kept outdoors – so if you’re looking for a garden rabbit who may get wet from time to time, don’t choose a long-haired bunny!
When you do decide on the sort of rabbit which will suit your requirements, you then need to think about the source for your rabbit. If you want to breed or show your pet, you need to find a breeder who has your chosen breed. You might want the reassurance of knowing exactly what your pet will look like and choose to buy a pet-quality bunny from a pedigree breeder even if you’re not planning on showing your pet.
If you’d like to rabbit adoption and have some experience or don’t mind putting in some work winning over an older rabbit, you could consider helping a rabbit that needs rehoming.
If you already have a rabbit and are looking for another to be friends, rescue organizations are worth considering. You can arrange to take your current pet along to see if he or she hits it off with any of the available rescues – if so, the hardest part of your work introducing bunnies to each other is done! See under ‘introducing rabbits’ for more details on this!
There are other sources for rabbits.You will see adverts in the small ads section of local papers, cards in shop windows, friends of a friend who have unexpected baby rabbits needing homes – and, of course, pet shops.
The problem with these sources is that you don’t know anything about the background of your new pet. By choosing a rabbit from these places, you may be indirectly supporting poor-quality breeding, negligence (all pet rabbits should be neutered!) and the commercial breeding of rabbits in less than ideal circumstances – to put it mildly – unless you know the breeder personally, you won’t know!
Many people who have pet rabbits end up with an unplanned litter of kittens (the correct term for baby rabbits). I’ve done it myself, admittedly – been surprised to discover one of my bunnies was a boy when I thought they were both girls – and I’ve had rabbits almost all my life. The only certain way to avoid unplanned rabbit multiplication is to have your pets neutered by a vet – look in my Vet Section for details.
Similarly, many pet shops buy their stock from reputable breeders and provide healthy stock and top-quality advice and help. I bought Biscuit from a pet shop, and Bigwig was rehomed via a pet shop – but in both cases, I asked questions until I was sure I knew enough about the background of both bunnies to know what I was getting.
If you go through the various categories above, you should find all the information you need to choose your perfect pet bunny.
Once you’ve considered all these factors in choosing a rabbit and selected your perfect bunny, or if you’ve happened across a rabbit soul-mate unexpectedly – then make sure you read the articles on rabbit proofing , introducing rabbits, settling in and building a relationship… preferably before you bring the new family member home!