Please, Please, PLEASE.... DO NOT BUY A RABBIT JUST BECAUSE OF THE HOLIDAY.
Easter is not a good time to buy rabbits. Many people are just milling out as many "cute babies" just in time for their new family to buy them as tiny as possible (usually 4-5 weeks( like "great" petstores down the street that are all about double the profit, double the fun! Oh yea, try having an employee accurately sex one! Just for kicks, I'll usually go into stores to feel them out, and haven't had one pass yet!), to over stress, give them an improper diet, and if they survive, most end up on craigslist a few months later because the kids got "bored", they have "allergies", they are "moving",etc.
If they are really unlucky, they get forgotten in a cage to live their life in their filth.
Sure, there are good,responsible pet owners out there, but the truth is, most people are looking to impulse buy around the holidays. I personally just won't deal with pet purchased for 5 days before and after because if you are truly serious about your new family pet, it can wait.
How do you know a rabbit is for you?
1) Are you expecting them to be like a little dog and lick you all over?
- Truth is, they are not dogs, they aren't cats. They are rabbits. As much as you want to carry around little Foo Foo, his natural instinct is to be on the floor. He is prey. He needs to feel secure, and the best place for him is on the floor. He doesn't appreciate a person mishandling him and startling him bad enough to break his back. Rabbits are social but usually just more entertaining to watch fling themselves in a happy binky across the room.
2. Are you allergic?
-Once you have the animal, that is not the time or the place to find out you are allergic. Get tested BEFORE hand.
3. Will my rabbit scratch?
- Now, my rabbits don't want to claw my eyes out, but they happen every now and then. They have claws for digging burrows! There are techniques you can use to lessen your chances and regularly trim their nails, but if you carried your dog and cat frequently, their claws, even trimmed, would be unavoidable. When you are with your rabbit, wear long sleeves! Accidents happen!
4. Where should they live?
-Personally, I like them outside. Easier to deal with them when they molt. We run an industrial fan for the rabbits,rubbed their ears with cold water, and provide ice blocks and even plan to install a misting system this summer. You need take precautions if they are going to be outside. They need shade, ice, and airflow! THEY MUST BE ACCLIMATED TO THE WEATHER. Do not expect a rabbit from a AC rabbitry its entire life, to do well in the July summer heat. If you want to bring them in and out during the summer, do it during the coolest parts of the day!
Having them inside is also a great option! Best if you have young children, so they aren't forgotten out in hutch!
5. Can I financially support my pet?
-Rabbits don't need much, but usually when you initially get your pet, you are looking to spend about $200-$300 on the rabbit, equipment, feed, hay, & toys.
6.BUT I WANT IT NOW AND I WANT A BABY CAUSE THEY ARE SOOOOOO CUTE
- Ok, how cute is this baby going to be down the road when it's all grown up? Everything grows up.
7.Won't my single rabbit get lonely?
-Not at all. How many cotton tails do you see cuddling? I'm not a supporter of bonding, just because I've heard to many sob stories and every pair I met has injuries/scars from fighting at one point or another. (Also coming from someone that use to bond rabbits/have my own pet bonded pair) For some, one usually ends up being the "favorite" , and the other is forgotten.
THE BIG ONE:
8. Do you feel your children/ you will be responsible?
-Rabbits are a lot of responsibility and usually a 3 year old and rabbit just don't make a great mix. They pull on their ears, poke them , drop them, STEP on them,etc. Usually the youngest I'd suggest is 6-7 years of age. Otherwise, the parent needs to take over most of the responsibilities until the kids can do it themselves.
If you feel like you don't have the time to overlook or come behind the kids after they have taken cared of them, then you probably don't need a rabbit. Parents need to always make sure things are getting done, because I've heard of things doing unnoticed with kids by accident. It can be the difference between life and death.
At the end of the day, give them a chocolate or stuffed bunny instead. Animals shouldn't be gifted unless it's something you have really done your homework on.
So you still want a rabbit?
Purchase from a REPUTABLE BREEDER. Usually you want to find breeders that are part of the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA). https://www.arba.net/breeds.htm
Pressing the breed image, it will take you to the club page and usually contacting the President or VP can help find a breeder near you!
1)Look for someone selling no sooner than 8 weeks
2) If they have pictures or allow you into their barn, how do the rabbits look? Are they bright eyed, alert, and of good condition? Is the barn/shed well kept? (Poop and pee and even fur on the cages (during molting/breeding) season especially) is normal, but an overwhelming amount/burning your eyes is not someone I'd be looking to get rabbits from.
Are they blowing snot, crusted, and just look downright unhealthy? (Run, don't walk! I know a lot of people feel bad a buy them to "rescue" but you literally just encouraged the practice)
3) What should I be looking for?
Check for teeth, feet, ears, and the body for any signs of growth,mites,etc. Make sure your teeth are correct. Bad teeth and poorly furred feet are a genetic issue that the breeder should be culling out of their barn. Larger breeds and rex breeds generally need a resting mat because their weight/fur, but otherwise, should be sore hock free.
4) What breed is for me?
I get this all the time. Usually people think smaller is better,but not all breeds are created equal. Sometimes the smaller breeds can be a bit more excitable and run away most of the time, but usually medium-large are a bit more tame, but they take up more space.
Temperament is genetic & environmental, so if that baby is a spit fire and clawing like crazy as a baby, probably going to do the same as an adult, if not worst. A lot of good breeders start handling & socializing them from day one until the day their go to their pet home.
5. What gender is best?
-Bucks! Most of my barn favorite are does, but bucks fulfill pet peoples needs better being a bit more social. (We personally do not sell pet does)
**So, how do you get one from a breeder?**
1. Be patient. Especially in a show barn. We want to provide the average joe with a healthy,social pet, but we are also looking out for the best of the litter for our program as we strive for better structure,health, and temperament.
2. Email them politely and don't start getting picky. Most breeders aren't concerned with your favorite color or the age that you get a rabbit from them. Our focus is on type,not color. (especially in my breed where body type is 80 points out of 100!)
Sometimes we don't have the genetics to make certain colors happen, and breeders do not know their keepers the day they are born. Sometimes we have to grow them out past 8 weeks before we make a final decision. (Sometimes as late at 6 months)
If you're getting a pet, then work with what is available at the time or wait for the next time rabbits are available.
3. If you have an appointment planned: Be on time & go over proper etiquette with your kids if they are coming. As much as I loved having one family's kids opening my cages, poking rabbits, dumping feed from my feed bin.... just no. SHOW RESPECT. I'm not there to baby sit your children or be the parental figure because you don't want to discipline them.
4. If you are emailing back and forth, and just stop responding abruptly or give me the run around, Facebook saves our past conversation and you will never get a rabbit from me, ever. So if you find something somewhere else or feel like you don't want to go through with it, let me know. I will understand! (This is a huge reason for our deposit & first come,first serve policy. Too many flakey people)
As much as people think we just play with bunnies all day long, for many of us this is a hobby that we love and work full time/part time jobs, have families, go to school,etc. It's like a boat: A money pit. I don't think I'll ever recoup the expenses for shows, purchasing show/brood rabbits,equipment, etc. I love it though! We love our rabbits and we want to make sure they will be loved on just like they would be at home. Our time is just as precious as yours and we want to share something better with you than you are ever going to find with a mill breeder or a pet store.
If you'd like to gather more information on rabbits, visit the ARBA website and purchase their care information or the Domestic Rabbit Magazine! Brings up great topics,tips, and information!