Did you know there are approximately 1.7 million rabbits kept as pets in the UK? This makes them the third most popular pet after cats and dogs. There are many different breeds all varying in size, shape and personality. It is generally thought owning a rabbit is easy. However, as they need daily attention, have quite complex needs and can live for a long time (typically 8-12 years or even longer) keeping a rabbit is a major commitment.
Buying a rabbit
If you are looking to get a rabbit, going to a reputable breeder is a good option. They will have planned the breeding carefully and the baby rabbits should have a good temperament. They will have handled them from a young age so they get used to being picked up. You will also know the exact date of birth which will give you peace of mind that you are not taking the baby rabbits away too young.
Another option is to go to a rescue centre. Every year many rabbits get abandoned because the owners either lose interest or can’t look after them properly. If a rabbit goes into a rescue centre they will receive a vet check to ensure it’s healthy before being put forward for adoption. The rabbit’s temperament will be checked to ensure they will be safe for children to handle. Also, many centres will ensure the rabbits are micro-chipped and neutered before you take them home. You may need to fill in forms, have an interview and possibly have a home visit. This is done to ensure you are able to look after the rabbit properly.
A lot of people will get their first rabbit from a pet shop. However, very few of them will get their rabbits from private/reputable breeders. They will more than likely get them from commercial breeders and the rabbits have been born as part of a mass breeding programme. These types of breeders are aiming for quantity rather than quality. Also, the baby rabbits won’t have been handled before reaching the pet shop which means they may be more afraid of humans. If you do go to a pet shop, ensure the staff know what they are talking about and are able to provide you with all the information you need.
When getting a rabbit there are a couple of other things to consider:
Rabbits are very social animals and do not like to be alone. If possible you should keep your rabbit with another friendly rabbit unless your vet has told you otherwise. Rabbits can get bored very easily and can suffer if they have no company or nothing to do. If you have been told to keep your rabbit on its own make sure you interact with it every day.
If you already own a rabbit and you are getting another one, introduce them gradually and do not leave them on their own at first. It may be a good idea to put them in a space that is new to both to them. Normally, young rabbits that are bought up together will get on, but if they are introduced as adults they may fight.
If you have other pets, a cat or a dog, do not leave your rabbits unsupervised when they are around. Even if you know they all get on. It’s better to be safe than sorry
Finally, unless you are planning on breeding it would be advisable to get your rabbits neutered as this can reduce the likelihood of fighting in both male and female rabbits. Another advantage is neutering female rabbits also stops them getting uterine cancer.
In the next part of our blog we will look at diet and advise on where to keep your rabbit – indoors or outdoors.
As always, if you have any questions you can call us at the clinic or leave a question on our Facebook page. Also, you can pop in to get a free check up with one of our rabbit nurses who can give advice on diet, dental, neutering, vaccinations, housing and boredom breaking activities to help keep your bunny happy