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So you've decided you want a bunny?  Where do you go from here?

Bunnies are the third most popular pet after dogs and cats.  You'll find them at pet shops and breeders but I would strongly suggest going to a Rabbit Rescue or animal shelter to adopt.  The cost is often less, especially if you consider you're getting them already spayed or neutered.  Plus, you'll be providing a home for a bunny that really needs it.

An important reason to get your bunny from Rabbit Rescue organizations is the information and education they provide.  A pet store is a business.  The bottom line is they are making money.  They buy rabbits for $10 from breeders and sell them for $40+.  If the rabbit is sick they will not provide vet care because the cost is higher than the price they expect to get for it.  A breeder is much the same.  

I learned first hand how much a business this is when I bought another bunny from a pet store after our first one passed away.  We brought him back to the store almost immediately as we had concerns about his health after observing him and they wanted nothing to do with us, despite their "health guarantee".  He ended up passing away shortly after which was horrible because we were already devastated at losing our first bunny earlier that year.

Having said that, I must credit pet stores for at least introducing people to the idea of having a pet rabbit.  My first rabbit was from a pet store where the clerk explained what great pets they make.  They are often the first place people are exposed to domestic rabbits.

Rabbit Rescue will be there for you after you take your bunny home.  They will take the time to educate you on how to handle and care for your bunny properly.  Their goal is to provide a healthy, happy environment for the bunny, not to make money off the sale.  You may wonder why they charge a fee at all.  They do this to guard against people buying domestic rabbits for consumption by people or other pets, for example, snakes.  Fees also help support their efforts in rescuing, providing healthcare and daily necessities for the bunnies in their care.

You also need to consider other pets and how they may get along with a bunny.  All pets have distinct personalities so any advice has to be given in context.  I know many people with multiple pets including bunnies, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hedgehogs, hamsters, and so on.  You need to take into consideration the personality of each pet you have and introduce them slowly and under direct supervision.  Rabbits are high stress animals so a dog may just be playfully chasing and barking but it could literally scare your rabbit to death.  Adult cats usually get along quite well with rabbits.  Kittens may irritate a rabbit with their playfulness and eventually the rabbit could give them a warning bite!  Just remember rabbits are prey animals which often makes them vulnerable.

I have received some emails from people asking about children and rabbits. Most of what you read online would discourage having rabbits in the house with small children. Personally I think it depends. Having any pet with young children can be an fantastic learning experience. Of course, children don't understand at a young age that certain things they do can hurt animals. Our son is 6 now and very good with all our rabbits. But it took a lot of supervision and stern reminders any time he was even a bit rough or tried to pick them up. It was obvious he wasn't deliberately trying to hurt them, he absolutely adores all of them, but they're cute fuzzy walking stuffies to a child that age and they have to learn they're not toys. I believe it all comes down to how the parents deal with it and the level of supervision they are prepared to provide. Some basic ground rules would be:

  • Children must never be allowed to pick up a rabbit. Most rabbits do not like being picked up and they will fight and struggle to get back to the floor. A child will almost certainly either drop or tightly grip the rabbit resulting in injury or death.

  • Especially if the rabbit is new to the family, a child must be constantly supervised when in the same room as the rabbit. If you leave the room, your child will probably take that opportunity to "play" with the bunny. You need to observe the interactions between your child and the rabbit for some time before taking any chances. Not only could the rabbit end up hurt, but so could your child if they frighten the rabbit. Rabbits are capable of giving some pretty nasty bites if they are feeling threatened.

  • Children should be encouraged to participate in the care of the rabbit.  Refreshing water and hay is a good way to teach responsibility and a rabbit can never have too much of either. A pet rabbit can teach your child empathy and about caring for animals, and by extension, all living things. Its such an important and valuable lesson.

  • Rabbits are not classroom pets despite the popularity of them with many teachers. They are high stress animals that do not do well with the constant noise and movement one finds in a class of 20 or 30 children. Invariably, there will be some form of nuisance in terms of sticking fingers or objects in the cage, taping or banging on the side of the cage to get a reaction when the teacher is not aware. Rabbits require a stable home with constant fresh water and hay. This is not possible when the rabbit is being taken home by various children in the class on weekends and holidays. I hope teachers will reconsider before getting a rabbit as a classroom pet. Pets are for home, not school.

Even with the best care, rabbits do not live as long as dogs or cats.  A rabbit can live 8-10 years, although we have known people to have rabbits as long as 14 years.  However, if you find yourself in the position of having to explain the death of the family pet to your child you may find my experiences helpful in my section on Explaining the Loss of a Pet to Young Children


If a Shelter Bunny Could Talk

Hello, I am a little bunny that is sitting in a shelter now and I don't know what I did to end up here. Or maybe I do. I don't want to give my real name as I am ashamed of my situation. Though it must be my own fault I guess. So call me Joe. Joe the bunny.

Me and my friends that sit here everyday want to share our stories so that other bunny rabbits out there know to be good so they don't end up here with us. We sit in our little cages now and know our time is coming. You see we suffer from a terrible terminal illness. Its as deadly as cancer and sometimes even faster moving. Our terminal illness is called Unloved and Unwanted. I know I'm dying and I know its soon. There is only a very very small chance that someone will ever come to see me and want to take me home and save me from my terrible fate. But I stopped hoping for that a long time ago. Now I just sit quietly and wait... my suffering will end. One way or another.

Oh but if I ever get that chance I will know to be the bestest behaved bunny ever! I really will, I SWEAR I WILL! I know now that its my own fault I was brought here. I know now that I never should have gotten so excited about my food that I would accidentally bite my peoples hands. I know I was wrong. And it doesn't matter that my people sometimes forgot to feed me for days. I should have behaved better. Maybe if I was a good bunny they would have fed me more often? It was my fault I know. And I really did try my best to ration my water and make it last until it was filled again sometime next week but I was sooo hungry I put whatever was available in my tummy. I was greedy and I'm so sorry for that. And it doesn't matter if I was confused about where my litter box was because my whole cage was always dirty. I should have held it in and not gone to the bathroom in my cage. Maybe if I had done that they wouldn't have been so disgusted by me and my house when they came to clean it once a month? I wish I had been better about that too. My own fault. And who was I to be upset about not ever coming out to play? Really I asked to much. I guess to need just a little exercise. After all my owner was only 8 yrs old and not her fault she didn't want to let me out to play. Really, it was all my fault. I was selfish.

And though I pray someone will some day soon save me from my fate I don't think anyone is coming for a badly behaved bunny like me. I'll get what I deserve soon. The clock on the wall beside is always ticking at me. Tomorrow.... then next day.... soon, I know I'm dying.

So I can only hope to try to save other bunnies from my fate. I hope that all the bunnies in the land read my letter and remember "You are the bunny. You must behave right or else." But alas I know most bunnies simply cant help themselves. We are just bunnies after all. So to the humans that may read my story I ask that if you ever should decide to come to our rescue we will ask for little but I guess more than we deserve...

We ask for just a small area to call our own. Look around you now. There may just be a corner you could squeeze a cage in. We don't need a whole room or house, just a little room. And I know it may be a lot to ask but we do so love to stretch our legs. So maybe if you could find it in your heart to let us out to play for just a little bit everyday... It doesn't have to be hours and hours. We've been in these little cages so long anything would be heaven. Some of us have never had play time. We ask if it isn't too much trouble for just a little food everyday. We don't eat much. And if you felt so inclined to let us try some hay that too would be heaven. I've heard talk of this "hay" thing but I've never tried it. It sounds delicious. And most of all, though we obviously don't deserve it, or we wouldn't be here ... it would mean the world to little ones like us to know the feeling of a kind and gentle hand touching us. An affectionate head pat ... a soft cheek rub and maybe, just maybe, a kind word or two. Maybe if we try really hard you may just some day say "I love you"... that would be heaven ... and I would be good.


Rosalind Glousher
Rabbit Rescue Inc,
Ontario, Canada


Petfinder.com - adopt a pet in your area, including rabbits, dogs, cats and more.  They have listings from shelters and rescue organizations all over North America.

Rabbit Names (A-M)/(N-Z) - Need a name but you're drawing a blank?  Here's a whole list of suggestions.

Rabbit Names (Pairs) - For the more ambitious with bonded pairs, here's a site that has cute name pairings.  My favourite is Bacardi and Diet Pepsi but that's another story!

Rabbit Names - this site is really extensive.  If you can't find a name for your bunny here, you're going to have to name them "hey you".

Rabbit Breeds - this is an interesting site because it has photos of many rabbit breeds.

Sexing Rabbits - how to find out if you have a boy or girl (buck or doe).


Everything you ever wanted to know about rabbits but were afraid to ask ...