Buying a rabbit is cheap, and they are popular pets because they are cute and affectionate. But, as commonly believed, far from low-cost or easy to keep and may live for ten years.
Becoming a pet can have its advantages for a rabbit but does not change its basic needs or instincts. Hence, you may be the most significant disadvantage to your new pet living the good life.
So before buying your first pet rabbit, check out the essential rabbit keeping facts below. However, you should never buy a rabbit considering it a child’s pet and easy to keep.
things to consider before buying a rabbit
Buying a rabbit may not break the bank, but what about suitable accommodation? Notice the absence of the word cheap? However, there is more than one way of suitably housing your new rabbit with adequate space to exercise.
But a bunny’s needs are far higher than the cheap cage or hutch with an internal or add-on run. Rabbits need to behave naturally! Without the space to do so, their physical and mental health will suffer!
So, before buying a rabbit, you should consider: –
Where you are going to keep it,
The cost of maintaining the rabbit’s environment, feeding and veterinary care for the average rabbit lifespan of ten years.
If a rabbit is a suitable for you, your child or family.
So, are rabbits good pets? Yes but, having a pet rabbit, is as much, and can be more, of a commitment than owning a dog! However, if you are going to invite a rabbit into your life, you should prepare its new home in advance.
rabbits need protection and careful handling
Low in the food chain rabbits need a lot of protection from predatory animals and birds of prey. However, not all predators are wild! Your neighbour’s cats and dogs will also be a danger.
Therefore, your pet rabbit will also need adequate protection from them! As the shock of even a failed attack can kill them.
Rabbits hide pain
Rabbits hide their pain by instinct. Why? Because in the wild, showing an injury would make them more vulnerable to attack and becoming a predator’s meal.
So, before buying a rabbit, consider this fact about rabbits. They are fragile and often suffer broken bones, dislocated joints, and spinal injuries caused by mishandling.
So, if you accidentally drop, hit, or kick, your pet rabbit, it may be in pain, even if it does not show.
Spotting an injury is not always easy, but if your rabbit is not eating or hiding away. It is in pain and needs treatment from a vet experienced in treating rabbits without delay!
Rabbits need to be neutered
The first and most important reason for neutering rabbits is to prevent them from breeding. Doe (female) rabbits start breeding from 3 to 6 months old and give birth 28 days later.
Producing on average 5 to 7 Kits (baby rabbits) and can become pregnant again within hours. Hence, in just one breeding season, you could end up with up to thirty more rabbits than you wanted.
However, that is not the only reason. Neutered rabbits are less aggressive and easier to manage, especially the Doe. At the start of the breeding season, she will prepare by making a nest. Then, aggressively defend her territory from any intrusion, even if she is not pregnant.
My neutered Doe rabbit Babe has been with me for four years and has nested every breeding season. She is not aggressive towards me, but Bob, her partner, does keep his distance. So, neutering may change bodily functions but does not necessarily alter their instinct to prepare.
when buying one you should prepare for two
Wild rabbits live in social groups, never alone or confined. Becoming a pet has not changed this basic need for the company of its own kind. Another for grooming, sharing body heat on a chilly night, and playing.
A solitary rabbit living an unnatural life may suffer mentally and become destructive, aggressive, and challenging to manage. Not the adorable, affectionate, fun-loving pet you wanted.
However, male, and female rabbits are best for pairing but should live apart until neutered. Therefore, I recommend adding a second rabbit (if needed) and bonding them once the neutering of the first is complete.
Choosing your new rabbit
When ready to add a rabbit or two to your family, you can pick them from the various breeds available. However, each rabbit has an individual temperament, so choose them carefully looks and body style are not everything.
However, as pet rabbits, standard, lops, and lion heads etc., share their ancestry, their needs and instincts are the same.
rabbits need to be part of your family
Like dogs and cats, rabbits need lots of attention, are affectionate, and are full of fun. But that is where the similarity ends. Dogs and cats are predatory animals, while the rabbit has the instincts of their prey.
Predators have eyes in the front of their heads, looking to focus on their prey, like yours. Now, you’re buying a rabbit with eyes on the side of its head, providing overall vision for better protection; from predators like you!
In the wild a rabbit’s feet will only leave the ground when it is about to become a predator’s meal. So, it will struggle, bite, and/or die of shock from the attack.
Now, at four months old, both my pet rabbits would let me pick them up. And sit happily in my arms for a fuss. But as they matured and their instincts kicked in, they became less inclined to do so.
When necessary, I can still pick them up, but they are not happy and struggle after a few minutes. So, you may be able to hold a young one while buying a rabbit, but when it matures?
consider its diet
Before taking your rabbit home, ensure you have hay and the same brand of feed supplement in its diet. Because sudden changes in diet will cause it problems. You should make any changes gradually once your rabbit has settled in.
Rabbits will eat anything we give them, even if it will cause suffering and death. So, understanding your rabbit’s digestive system is fundamental to its health.
Because rabbits digest their food by bacterial fermentation, feeding unnatural foods can cause the colonisation of pathogenic bacteria. Stop the fermentation and kill your pet.
In writing this post, I do not intend to put you off buying a rabbit but to make you think about what you are taking on. Too often, rabbits end up in unsuitable accommodation because parents believe a rabbit is a child’s pet, as did I!
Yes, I am guilty of buying a rabbit, thinking it is a child’s pet, so it would be easy and cheap to keep. I know better now!
Finally, If I had all the information above, would I have bought my rabbit, Babe? In a word, yes!
My only regret is the fifty-seven years between my childhood pet rabbit and Babe. That’s how long it took me to discover the true nature of rabbits. Cared for and treated well, rabbits are affectionate, fun-loving friends who enjoy human company.
They have changed my life for the better. So, regardless of the cost and the work, I would happily do it all again without a second thought.