The Pet Rabbit Guide
A FAQ from an ARBA registered breeder.
The Pet Bunny FAQ
Over the years I've sold quite a few pets- sometimes pure pet quality, other times brood or show that I couldn't hang on to any longer, or that the person wanted badly enough to pay brood or show price for. Here are the most frequently asked questions of pet buyers!
Which makes the better pet? A boy or a girl?
I am of the opinion that a male rabbit makes the best pet. In my barn, time and again the bucks are the ones who are most likely to meet me at the door for head rubs. They are sweet, curious and in general more laid back than the females. When a female reaches maturity, her hormones go crazy and she can become aggressive. Each rabbit is different of course, but for a cut and dry answer, males tend to be the best pets.
What breed makes the best pet?
Ahhh! This one is hard- I know 90% of breeders think their rabbits are awesome pets! I've found, in general, mini lops tend to be the sweetest of the three breeds I have (Mini Lops, Holland Lops and Jersey Woolies). Likewise, larger breeders are a little more cuddly and laid back. However, I've got a holland buck who licks my hand and a jersey wooley buck that plays "soccer" with me in his cage. Really, it depends on how much time was spent with them when they were younger. I know if I'm really busy and can't love the babies as much, they aren't as cuddly. Try to visit with the babies before buying one- that one that runs to the back is gonna be harder to win over than the one pushing to the front to lick you.
Can I litter box train it?
Yes! I've successfully litter trained a rabbit (and taught it to play hide-n-seek). The best method is to figure out which corner it likes to go potty in, and place a litterbox (with some hay in a corner) there. Scoop up a few poo balls (and we used a paper towel to sop up an accident and buried it under the litter) and place them artfully around the box (or dump them in there, I don't care :) ). This tells your rabbit "Hey- go potty here!". It's best to start litter training in the cage (even if it's a wire bottom). Slowly move to letting the rabbit out of the cage and in to a small area (one room or part of one room) and repeat the process- find the favorite corner and put a litter box there. Patience! Puppies don't potty train in a day, rabbits aren't going to either.
Should I get my bunny "fixed"?
It depends. If you have only one rabbit, it's not as necessary. Sometimes bucks will spray urine (I've seen does wanting to be bred do it too...), and neutering can help fix this problem (most of the time!). Having your rabbit altered can extend the life, especially in females, which can get cancer in the uterus if they aren't bred. Again, this will not happen every time! It is a risk, however. It may also head off the problem of her becoming aggressive when she hits puberty. If you want to have more than one rabbit live together, one or both will need to be altered for your greatest success rate.
What kind of cage should I get?
I prefer the wire bottoms, like the Wabbitats. They are much easier to clean, though you may want to sit it on a puppy pad, sometimes they back up too far and pee out the side on to the floor *by accident, of course*.
How much lettuce/carrots can I give my pet?
If it's under 6 months old- none. I do not give treats to babies, it can cause diarrhea or death. I prefer to be safe and wait until after 6 months old. Once your rabbit is old enough, go light on the carrots. They are extremely sugary (relatively anyway) and can lead to a weight problem. NEVER EVER EVER GIVE ICEBERG LETTUCE! Your rabbit should have dark greens such as romaine lettuce, kale and broccoli. As a rare treat, carrots, apples and raisins are nice. We also give papaya pills (the Walmart brand) occasionally- they think they are treats- little do they know it helps prevent wool block! Try to avoid processed store treats- they are nothing but sugar and junk.
Will my bunny get lonely? Should I get him/her a friend?
Hm. Well, if you want the rabbit to bond more closely to you than the bunny friend, I say no. IF you decide you do want a pair, I highly recommend one (and really both) be fixed. I have had unaltered females live together well in to a year. I had a pair of unusually laid back gals. Bucks, under no circumstances, should live together unaltered. I've seen siblings start fighting at 3 months of age! Your best bet for a pair of rabbits are a neutered buck and a spayed doe, or a pair of sisters that have been fixed. They don't HAVE to have a bunny friend and some are just as happy without! A cage-mate is no excuse to not spend time with your animal.
Did you say your cat loves your bunnies? Doesn't she eat them?
Can you believe, I've heard stories about a BEAGLE who licked baby bunnies clean, and to help them use the bathroom when their own mom wasn't taking care of them? I've heard of an Australian Shepherd who is very protective over "his" bunnies. And yes, my cat loves rabbits- she grooms them and plays with them! (She got her butt kicked by a mean holland doe when she was 7 weeks old- she has a deep respect for ALL living things that belong to me- even the rat!)
The point is, yes, your rabbits can become friends with your other pets! HOWEVER do not just throw the rabbit into the middle of the living room and let your lab go to town sniffing. Make sure the rabbit is in a secure cage (I like to put it next to a wall, so their back is protected from probing cat paws). Make sure the rabbit has had time to get used to the new smells of the house, you, the water- everything! Then allow the pet, let's say a cat this time, into the room to visit the rabbit. There will be a lot of sniffing, probably a good deal of thumping- you never know. Once they get used to each other, you can open the door to the rabbit cage and let it hang out up close and personal- with supervision! Remember, take time, they usually aren't going to be best friends in 5 minutes, don't be afraid to string this out over days or weeks!
*Note* If your cat has a tendency to leave you dead things by the door, or your dog is a known squirrel menacer, you may need to be *VERY* slow and *VERY* cautious in introducing a prey animal to them!
Hope this helps!