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Things To Think About Before Buying A Rabbit

Updated on June 16, 2010

What a cute companion

Do Rabbits Make Good Pets?

Rabbits make wonderful pets. Every rabbit has a different personality, just like people do. You can enjoy teaching them and playing games with them. Yes rabbits can be trained. They can learn commands, games, and even to use a litter box!

Is A Rabbit Right For You?

There is no single type of rabbit that is right for everyone.  There is a wide range of breeds to choose from in different sizes, shapes, colors, and temperaments.  You also need to choose male or female, and decide if you should get one, or more than one.  Rabbits are great companions that want to have fun with you, and even learn from you.  However, there are aspects of a rabbits personality that are not so appealing.  For example, rabbits love to chew and have to be monitored and trained so they don't chew on carpets, baseboards, and electrical wires.  Some rabbits do not like to be cuddled; others are easily scared, and may bite or run as a result.  When you are choosing a rabbit, try to pick one that has been handled and doesn't seem overly anxious.  Before adding any pet to your house, be sure that you and your family are ready for the financial and time responsibilities.  Consider a rabbit as a pet carefully if you have very young children.  Rabbits are not good pets for children under the age of seven.  They are delicate and can be easily injured by children.

Different Breeds Of Rabbits

This is a mini-lop eared rabbit.  They are medium sized, and the average male weighs about 5.5 lbs.  They have short, soft fur, a big block-like head, and looped ears.  They are relaxed, easygoing, and friendly.  They come in white and agouti.
This is a mini-lop eared rabbit. They are medium sized, and the average male weighs about 5.5 lbs. They have short, soft fur, a big block-like head, and looped ears. They are relaxed, easygoing, and friendly. They come in white and agouti.
This is a ruby-eyed White English Angora rabbit.  Their face and floppy ears are covered with all that fluffy hair.  When mature, they weigh 5 to 7.5 lbs.
This is a ruby-eyed White English Angora rabbit. Their face and floppy ears are covered with all that fluffy hair. When mature, they weigh 5 to 7.5 lbs.
This petite rabbit is the Neterland Dwarf.  They have ears that seem short even for its small body.  The head is round and high set.  Ears are erect, well furred, and ideally two inches long.  This is one of the most popular breeds.
This petite rabbit is the Neterland Dwarf. They have ears that seem short even for its small body. The head is round and high set. Ears are erect, well furred, and ideally two inches long. This is one of the most popular breeds.

Here Are Some Honest Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • Will my other pets learn to accept a new rabbit?
  • Who will be responsible for cleaning the cage everyday?
  • Can I be sure the rabbit will be fed two times a day?
  • Can I afford a pet, including the cost of veterinary care?

Finding The Right Rabbit

First and foremost, never buy a rabbit on impulse. Also, never feel pressured to buy or take a rabbit just because you are there, or feel sorry for one that looks sickly. When you are sure a rabbit is right for your family, and know who will be responsible to care for him or her, it is time to get one! There are several places to look. If you are looking for a young rabbit or specific breed, your best bet is to go to a local breeder or pet store. Contact the Local Rabbit Cub and ask for a list of reputable breeders and pet stores in your area. Another good way to learn about different breeds and meet breeders is to go to agricultural fairs. These fairs will have a house or barn where they have show rabbits on display. Breeders or rabbit club members are available to answer your questions. Some shelters and rescue groups will occasionally have rabbits. Owners no longer able to keep their rabbits can put an ad in the local paper trying to find them a new home. Do not commit to purchasing a rabbit before you have the opportunity to see him or her and the environment in which he is kept. Young rabbits should be active and plump. (but not potbellied) Their coats should have a fine sheen, and not be matted in any way. A rabbit's body should appear "balanced."

Little Baby Rabbit

Cool Rabbit toys, treats, food, and neccesities

Peter's Woven Grass Play Ball for Rabbits
Peter's Woven Grass Play Ball for Rabbits

Rabbits LOVE to chew on things, they will love this toy; I have one for my rabbit. It will also help prevent him chewing on furniture, etc. in your home.

 

Rabbit Behavior

You can learn a lot about pet rabbits by discovering how wild rabbits act. Rabbits are naturally ground creatures. They are most active in the evening and at dawn; some are active all night. Rabbits eat plants and are very good tunnelers. Because rabbits dig to form burrows, digging is an important natural behavior for them. Young rabbits are especially prone to digging. Just because it is "normal" doesn't mean you have to put up with your rabbit digging up your carpet. You should provide an alternative place for your rabbit to dig. A carpet box or a tunnel box will work. Whenever you catch your rabbit digging in a place you don't want him to, give him a firm verbal reprimand and put him in the box. When he digs in the assigned box, you can give him a treat as a reward.

Rabbits can be quite communicative at times. Sometimes your rabbit will tell you things by making sounds, and using his voice. For example, he might growl when he is in an aggressive mood. They will also squeal or scream when something bad happens to him, or when caught or in pain. A male (buck) that wants to breed may purr. It is his way of telling a doe that he is interested in her. (doe) Rabbits may also grind their teeth, which can be a sign of pain. If you aren't sure what your rabbit is trying to tell you with his voice, pay attention to what else he or she is doing. Check his attitude and body position. This will help tell you what he is trying to say.

There's other ways a rabbit will use his body to try to communicate with you. If he is ready to attack, his body will be stiffly upright and his tail will be stretched out. His ears may also be laid toward the back of his head. However, if the rabbit is stiff with his ears back but is SITTING, he is in a defensive position, considering an attack.

If you have a male, you might notice him rubbing his chin around the house and around his cage. This is his way of marking his territory. Rabbits have scent glands on their head, and the scent is rubbed onto things that he considers within his territory. If any other rabbits pass by, they would know that this territory belongs to another rabbit.

Some rabbits will be very clear with you about when they want or don't want attention. If your rabbit nudges you with his nose, he wants attention. If he scratches on the floor with his front paw, this may also mean he is asking for attention. While petting your rabbit, he may nudge your hand away. He is saying "thanks, but that is enough. Please stop." He is also trying to tell you he DOESN'T want your attention if he struggles when you try to pick him up. A rabbit might nip at you to get your attention or to get you to do what he wants you to do. This is different from an aggressive bite. You should respond by giving out a loud shriek to let him know he is hurting you. However, hurting you was not your rabbit's attention; getting your attention was.



Thumping

Rabbits will pound a back leg against the floor or ground (thumping) as a warning signal. Rabbits may also thump by hopping with both back legs but staying in one place. You are most likely to see thumping when your rabbit is anxious or stressed. Some rabbits will thump when your are moving toward them or attempting to pick them up. This is a warning sign. If your rabbit is not used to being handled yet, or gets scared easily, thumping may be followed by an attack. They may thump to get what they want, (such as food) or to try to keep you from putting them back in their cage.

Thumping Rabbit

Other Body Language

  • When your rabbit nips or nuzzles you, it means he likes you very much
  • If he is sitting up on his hind legs while in his cage, he wants to be let out
  • If he is out of his cage and sitting up, he is most likely  on the lookout.  This is how rabbits in the wild check for predators

It is important to learn to "read" your rabbit so you can build a strong relationship with him or her.  It is also as important that he learns to trust you.  A good way to start is not to grab for him or hold him against his will. 

Body, Ear, and Tail Position

There's other ways a rabbit will use his body to try to communicate with you. If he is ready to attack, his body will be stiffly upright and his tail will be stretched out. His ears may also be laid toward the back of his head. However, if the rabbit is stiff with his ears back but is SITTING, he is in a defensive position, considering an attack.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Melanie hernandez 

      5 years ago

      I getting a felmale rabbit right now in my house think you love melanie hernandez

    • ldparker10 profile image

      ldparker10 

      8 years ago

      Hi! I read the commment you put on my hub about rabbits so thought i'd check yours out... it is awesome! lots of info and some of those pictures are just adorable!!!

    • Totally Tiffany profile image

      Totally Tiffany 

      8 years ago from Henderson

      I raise rabbits---love them and they are for pets. It is easy to fall in love with each and every one of them even if you have a few hundred.

    • holdon100 profile image

      holdon100 

      8 years ago

      I have a little rabbit so joyful loves to run in the house

      my six year old son love it.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 

      8 years ago from Holly, MI

      Excellent hub!!! It is so important that people are ready for the commitment of a bunny or any animal before bringing it home. I am in LOVE with the picture of this Ruby-eyed white English angora!! It doesn't even look real it's so adorable!!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting - They are quite cute creatures. I like the point you made about going to Fairs and it's also interesting to learn the body language. So, if a rabbit nips me, there's no need for me to scream... lol. It's Rabbit Love. Best Wishes.

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I'm not into pets, but I LOVE to see rabbits outside when I go for a walk.

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