Help the Rabbits By Spreading the Word………               

            Things to Consider BEFORE You Adopt a Rabbit

Do you want a long-term relationship with a pet? Rabbits can live 10 years or even longer.  Don’t get a rabbit if you aren’t willing to make a long-term commitment. Do NOTexpect a child to make a 10 year commitment. Rabbits are the third MOST abandoned pet in the U.S. and children are the number one reason when they tire of the bunny.

Rabbits are happiest and healthiest as house pets. Summer and winter’s extreme temperatures and spring and fall’s sudden, drastic temperature changes make survival difficult for outdoor rabbits. Natural predators including dogs, cats, raccoons, hawks, owls, fox, coyote, and snakes are also a serious threat to rabbits kept or left outdoors.  Even the threat of these predators nearby can cause death to a rabbit from fear.  These predators abound even in urban and suburban areas.  Flies can also kill them.

If someone in your family has allergies, think carefully before adopting a rabbit. Many people who are allergic to dogs and/or cats are not allergic to rabbits. That’s the good part.  Be aware, however, that hay, an important part of a rabbit’s diet, can aggravate allergies if you have severe hay fever. If you want a rabbit and are concerned about allergies, check with your doctor or contact The House Rabbit Society and arrange to visit one of our foster homes to see if your allergies are bothered by bunnies or hay.

In addition to water in a bowl, special food, and fresh produce, rabbits need daily exercise, affection, and companionship.  Check carefully into dietary needs.  Also, they should have 3 to 4 hours exercise out of their cage each day. If your rabbit will spend a lot of time in a cage, it must be large enough for hopping and some exercise inside the cage. (Note:  wire floored cages are cruel on a rabbit’s sensitive feet)  Consider a pen rather than a cage or a 42” or 48” metal dog crate with plastic (easy to clean) tray floor.

Size.  All baby rabbits are small but not all breeds stay small.  Adult domestic rabbits are larger than the wild rabbits you see outside and some domestic breeds reach 10 pounds or more.  The average size is 6 lbs.  Do research on breeds before you decide.

Rabbits are NOT “pocket pets” for children.  Rabbits are not the cuddly, easy to pick up and carry type of animal that many believe them to be.  Rabbits are ground lovers and fear being picked up. They may struggle drastically resulting in disastrous consequences.  Children are not able to hold a struggling bunny and both the child and the rabbit could get hurt.  However, rabbits do love gentle petting and will beg for such attention.  If there are small children, a larger rabbit is a better choice as a family pet for several reasons.  A child is less likely to be able to pick up a large rabbit against its will. Many larger breeds have especially gentle, laid-back personalities that make them good with children.   Also, a rabbit should NOT be housed in a child’s room away from adults.

Rabbits are NOT low maintenance pets.   A rabbit is every bit as much work as a dog. They are not at all like hamsters or guinea pigs.  If easy care is a concern, get a stuffed animal.  A live animal is a serious commitment.
Rabbits require health care from a veterinarian experienced in rabbit care.   Many wonderful dog and cat veterinarians know very little about rabbits and some of the normal medications or anesthesia used for a cat or dog can kill a rabbit.  Using an experienced rabbit veterinarian is vitally important.  Rabbits are considered “exotics” so their health care can be expensive.  Medicine, x-rays, surgeries, etc. cost as much for a bunny as they do for a cat or dog.  Twice annual health checkups are recommended.

Adults in the family should plan to be the responsible caregiver for a pet rabbit.  Children are children and cannot be expected to be consistent with food, cleaning, or exercise although they may certainly help with these things.  More importantly, they are not likely to observe the subtle signs involved when a rabbit is sick and any delay in noticing these things can result in a quick and untimely death for your pet.  

Also, what will happen to the rabbit as your child grows?  Consider the age of your child and add 10 years.  What will happen to the rabbit and who will care for him when your child goes to high school?   Starts driving?  Starts dating?  Goes off to college?  Gets an apartment?  Gets married?

The number one reason rabbits are “dumped” is from parents complaining “The kids won’t take care of IT anymore.”  A rabbit is not a toy to amuse a child only to become expendable as soon as the child loses interest.    A family rabbit housed in a room frequently used by the family, like the family room, kitchen, etc. is a happy rabbit.

Rabbits can coexist happily with other pets, including many cats and dogs. However, if you have an aggressive dog or cat, don’t get a rabbit. Also, no matter how gentle your dog or cat is, careful supervision is critical.   Rabbits do not get along with ferrets (ferrets may kill your bunny) and must be housed away from birds whose droppings contain salmonella which is deadly to a rabbit.  A rabbit should also not eat seeds and nuts that may be dropped by a bird.

Unless you are willing to tolerate dramatic personality changes at puberty, don’t get a rabbit less than a year old. Adolescent rabbits can be every bit as difficult as teenage children.  It is not at all necessary to get a baby for a bunny to be social and even babies given lots of attention may not turn out the way you want.  Older rabbits that have been neutered or spayed are easier to litter box train, are more sociable, and chew less than younger rabbits.   Adult rabbits are more settled and are better for children.

If adopting a rabbit is right for you, consider adopting a pair of rabbits as single rabbits are more likely to be bored and get into trouble. Two rabbits who have not been raised together need to be introduced slowly and should be carefully supervised at first or they will likely fight and cause
serious injury to each other.   A neutered male and spayed female will normally accept each other more easily than will neutered same-sex pairs, but they, too, must be slowly and properly introduced.   Once bonded, bonded pairs can be friends for life and will entertain and provide companionship for each other as well as their humans.  The easiest thing to do is to adopt a pair already bonded.  (Please – NEVER put unneutered, unspayed rabbits together.)

Remember that domestic rabbits are completely dependent on humans for survival. If you discover you can’t care for your rabbit, do not turn him loose -- he will not survive  and will likely suffer a horrible death.  Domestic rabbits do not know how to hunt for food or protect themselves from predators and are subject to many diseases and parasites when left outdoors in addition to death by cars or weather.

If you decide you cannot keep  your rabbit, please contact The Missouri House Rabbit Society at (314) 995-1457 or e-mail for suggestions that may save your rabbit from death.