Before You Get a Rabbit

Throughout the year, especially at Easter, people see adorable baby bunnies in pet stores and impulsively purchase these little balls of fur.

Sadly, for every rabbit purchased from a pet store or breeder, a rabbit must be killed in a shelter for lack of a home.

Even sadder, most of these impulsively purchased, adorable bunnies end up in shelters themselves, and face eventual death there!

To purchase a rabbit, therefore, is:

  • To condemn an equally wonderful bunny to death
  • To reward people for and encourage them to breed and sell rabbits, when there is already an enormous over-population of rabbits
  • To put the life of the rabbit you purchase in jeopardy if you purchase from pet stores or “bad” breeders. (See information on “good” and “bad” breeders). This is true also when getting rabbits from multi-animal shelters if they aren’t able to provide detailed information on good rabbit care and problem-solving. It is rare to find a pet store or a breeder or a multi-animal shelter which is able to do this

PLEASE don’t participate in this cruelty!

When you are considering getting an animal, you want the animal to be physically and mentally healthy; you want to know the pitfalls of having that particular animal; and you want good information on caring for the animal. You are far more likely to accomplish these things by working with rescue organizations than with pet stores, breeders, or even with most multi-animal shelters.

The primary purpose of pet stores which sell animals is to make a profit from selling them.

  • Rabbits from pet stores are often ill; many don’t survive their first three months
  • Clerks at pet stores seldom know anything about rabbits, but usually think they do
  • Few pet stores have books providing the most needed kinds of information
  • Pet stores usually carry many products which are actually harmful to rabbits, and few that are good for them

Breeders breed and sell for a variety of reasons, depending on the individual breeder. Please click here for information about breeders. Suffice it to say here that purchasing from a breeder means encouraging them to continue breeding when there is a severe over-population of rabbits.

Multi-animal shelters try to find good homes for animals, but often have as little knowledge and information on good rabbit care as pet stores do!

Rescue organizations may be thought of as “good” or “bad”. “Bad” rescue organizations often attempt to take purebreds from shelters and sell them for profit. “Good” rescue organizations tend to know the animals they rescue and work to match the characteristics of their animals with homes, so an adoption is a positive experience for both humans and animals. They typically have much more complete and extensive information about care, solving problems, and special medical aspects of the animal they rescue than any other of the sources of these animals.


As a “good” rescue organization, the Colorado House Rabbit Society

  • Works to heal our rabbits physically and mentally before finding them homes
  • Knows rabbits exceedingly well – know how to match the characteristics of our rabbits with prospective homes so the animals and the people are happy
  • Has enormous resources to help understand and solve any problems which occur in an adoption
  • Knows the best products to maintain healthy animals
  • Has no financial motivation to sell anything which isn’t good for the rabbits or the people adopting them

Before getting a rabbit, please work with the Colorado House Rabbit Society or any of the other chapters of the House Rabbit Society across the country, to learn and to avoid the pitfalls of having rabbits. You will be maximizing your pleasure if you then get house rabbits.


 

Before impulsively purchasing any animal, consider what an outrageously selfish act it is to purchase an animal if any of the following are true:

  • You plan to hide the animal in a rented home where animals are not allowed
  • You have not determined if any one in the home is allergic to the animal or to hay, it’s primary food
  • You fail to consider whether you will be in a stable enough situation for the life of the animal to provide for him as long as he lives
  • You fail to make a commitment to solve any problems which may arise and to maintain time and a safe environment for animals you take into your home

To fail in any of these things is to put the life of the animal in jeopardy, for it is the animal, not you, who must go to a shelter and face euthanasia. This is also a cruel thing to do to the personnel at shelters, who love animals. They are then forced to put these innocent victims of human selfishness to death because there are no homes for them.

Finally, because most rabbits in shelters have grown beyond the destructive baby stage, and because they have been spayed or neutered, socialized, and litter-trained, they make far better companion animals (“pets”) than baby bunnies. We urge people to adopt rabbits rather than to purchase baby bunnies.

In any case, if you plan to get a rabbit, you should know:

  • Rabbits are a prey animal, who startle easily. They need gentle, patient care to develop a sense of security. They are also very delicate, physically. For these reasons, they are not appropriate for young children.
  • There are no advantages to getting a baby bunny and many advantages to adult rabbits one or more years of age:
    • Getting a bunny as a baby does not add to the bond between human and the rabbit as an adult.
    • At puberty (at 2½ to 4 months), males may become aggressive; females may become grouchy.
    • A new relationship must be established with a rabbit as she passes through various stages of the first year.
    • Personality and level of affection may change rapidly through the first year.
    • What you find in a baby bunny has nothing to do with what the bunny is like when she grows up.
    • Babies are very destructive. Adults do less chewing and can be trained to chew only on appropriate items.
  • Rabbits are sensitive, intelligent creatures who deserve for the people taking them into their families to provide a lifetime of care for them. When kept as house rabbits, they are a delight. However, there are many pitfalls to having rabbits in the house. These can be avoided by learning how to prepare for rabbits in your home, and what to expect from them before they are taken into one’s home. This is a service we offer at the Colorado House Rabbit Society
  • It is difficult to sex young rabbits. If you get two “females,” and don’t keep them apart until they are spayed, you are likely to have a litter of bunnies when the first two rabbits are only 3½ to 4½ months old. They may mate as early as 2½ months and can produce a litter at 3½ months. Furthermore, you will have a second litter on the way, because rabbits mate immediately after the birth of a litter.
  • Hutch rabbits are likely to become nothing more than a chore, especially during winter months when the children spend less time outdoors with them. When you have to care for an animal but get nothing in return, you are not likely to provide very good care, and are likely to “get rid” of him or her.