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Buying a Rabbit

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Buying A Rabbit

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How To Choose a Rabbit

When choosing a rabbit, looking at a few simple things can help ensure that your new pet is a healthy one.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required:  10 minutes

Here's How:

1.   Look at the overall body condition - the rabbit should be neither fat nor skinny, with no swellings.

2.   The rabbit's coat should be well groomed, with no bare patches. Check for soiling aroung the rear end, as this may indicate a problem with diarrhea.

3.   Look at the ears, they should be pink, not red, and free of discharge. The ear flaps shouldn't be damaged.

4.   The eyes should be bright and free from discharge. Check the coat around the eyes for signs of wetness or tear staining.

5.   Check the nose - it should also be free of discharge.

6.   Try to get a look at the teeth, they should not be overgrown and should be well-aligned. Also check for wet or matted fur on the chin.

7.   Observe the rabbit's breathing, which should be quiet and not labored.

8.   Watch the rabbit move around - it should have no signs of lameness, stiffness, or reluctance to move around.

9.   Look at the rabbit's surroundings - a rabbit kept in clean conditions, without crowding will have less exposure to stress and disease.

10.   Observe how the rabbit reacts to people - ideally pick a rabbit that is relatively calm about being approached and petted

Tips:

  1. Although babies are cute, there are many adult house rabbits in need of homes, so consider visiting a shelter or rescue.
  2. It is wise to resist the tempation to adopt a sickly rabbit unless prepared for the possibility of expensive treatment and possible heartbreak.
  3. When buying from a breeder, make sure they are breeding for a specific goal (e.g. temperament and health).

Who to Buy a Rabbit From

The best place always to buy a rabbit is directly from a private or hobbyist breeder but this may not always be possible and therefore many rabbit owners buy their first rabbit from a pet shop.

The advantages of buying from a private or hobbyist breeder is that breeding has usually been carefully planned and thought through with regard to producing robust, healthy rabbits of good temperament. They are not the result of commercial breeding of mass numbers of rabbits. You will also have the opportunity to see the parents and know the date of birth of the rabbit you intend to purchase. Private and hobbyist breeders regularly handle their babies and so any rabbits they sell are used to being handled. Unfortunately the same cannot always been said for rabbits sold in pet shops that have come from commercial breeders.

Another option when seeking a rabbit as a pet is to obtain a rabbit from a rescue home. Many rabbits unfortunately become abandoned or homeless through no fault of their own every year.

Depending on the rescue organisation they may require the completion of a series of forms, interviews or even a home visit to assess your suitabilty as a potential rabbit owner. Their primary concern is to ensure the correct placement of the rabbits in their care with a suitable new owner.

Many pets shops also sell rabbits and this is often where many people will buy their pet rabbit. If you are buying a rabbit from a pet shop what should you look for? How do you tell a good pet shop from a bad one? The first impression of the pet shop will usually indicate their standards. A clean, tidy shop is often a good indication that the shop owners take pride in their shop and therefore are likely to take pride in the rabbits they sell. An untidy or dirty shop is best avoided.

It is always a good idea to find out about rabbits before you go looking for one. You can then ask information from the pet shop staff and this will give you a good indication of whether they are actually knowledgeable about the rabbits they are selling. Males and females should be housed in separate cages and staff should be able to tell the sex of the rabbits they are selling.

If you are not satisfied with the pet shop, their knowledge or their rabbits, walk out and find another one. It is no fun buying a unhealthy, pregnant or weakly rabbit and then dealing with the problems this presents afterwards - it can cause a lot of heartache so take your time and find a good healthy rabbit.

Shops have a wide variety of cages and equipment for your rabbit. Avoid cedar shavings and fluffy bedding as both of these are dangerous to rabbits.

What should you do if you find a bad pet shop? Apart from leaving and finding another shop to buy your rabbit you can report the shop an Animal Welfare organisation or your local authority if you feel the conditions warrant it.

Rabbit Breeds

Quick Guide

Rabbits come in an array of breeds with different colors, sizes, shapes and coat types. The subtle differences between breeds will be of most interest to those who show their bunnies. The average owner would probably be interested mainly in size and coat type. Keep in mind that a pet store rabbit is not necessarily pure bred or at the very least may not meet the ideal breed standards. This in no way reflects on their quality as a pet, though! This guide is just meant to help potential owners sort through the sometimes confusing array of breeds. Rabbits vary in size from the smaller dwarf breeds (at under 2.5 lbs) to some of the giant breeds (sizes up to 16 pounds). Owners also need to be aware that the longer coated breeds need daily grooming.

For photos of the various breeds, see the American Rabbit Breeders Association's Breed Photo page.

American
9-12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg)
Blue, white
Medium build, narrow head.

American Checkered Giant
11 lbs or greater (5 kg)
White with black or blue markings (along spine, body spots, cheek spots, colored ears, eye circles and butterfly mark on nose).

American Chinchilla
9-12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg)
Chinchilla
Dense, fine hair that is smooth and glossy (1 1/4 inch long coat).
Relatively round body.

American Fuzzy Lop
3.5-4 lbs (1.6-1.8 kg)
Variety of coat colors
Compact muscular body, dense, coarse coat, and of course, ears folded over to slightly below the jaw.

American Sable
7-10 lbs (3.2-4.5 kg)
Sepia brown
Medium build with soft, dense fine coat with coarse guard hairs.

Angora
Variety of sizes and colors
English angora: 5-7 lbs (2.3-3.2 kgs), long silky hair.
French angora: 7.5-10.5 lbs (3.4-4.8 kg)
Giant Angora: 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg) and up, soft fine undercoat (wool), straight stiff guard hairs, and a wavy fluff with a guard tip inbetween.
Satin Angora: 6.5-9.5 lbs (3-4.3 kg), very fine wool.

Belgian Hare
6-9.5 lbs (2.7-4.3 kg)
Reddish tan or chestnut with slate blue undercoloring. Slender build, fairly stiff coat.

Britannia Petite
Under 2.5 lbs (1.1kg)
Ruby eyed white, black otter, black, chestnut agouti.
Slender, fine boned build with a sleek, silky coat.

Californian
8-12 lbs (3.6-4.5 kg)
White, with black nose, ears, feet and tail.
Rounded body, medium build, and short smooth coat.

Champagne d'Argent
9-12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg)
Bluish white with black hairs interspersed and slate blue undercolor.
Plump body. Black at birth; white hairs start showing at about 2 months.

Checkered Giant
Over 11 lbs (5 kg)
White with black or blue markings (along spine, body spots, cheek spots, colored ears, eye circles and butterfly mark on nose).
Long, hare-like body.

Chinchilla
5.5-6.5 lbs (2.5-3.1 kg)
Chinchilla
Fine boned.

Cinnamon
8.5-11 lbs (3.9-5 kg)
Rust or cinnamon color with grey ticking on back and grey on belly. Rust colored spots inside hind legs as well as butterfly mark on nose and eye rings.

Creme d'Argent
8-11 lbs (3.6-5 kg)
Creamy white with orange undercoat, and butterfly marking on nose.

Dutch
3.5-5.5 lbs (1.6-2.5 kg)
White with black, blue or brown, chocolate, steel or tortoise.
The front of the face, body, and the back feet are white; the rest is colored.

Dwarf Hotot
Under 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
White with black eye rings. Rounded body.

English Lop
Over 9 lbs (4.1 kg)
Agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked or wide band color groups. Very long lop ears.

English Spot
5-8 lbs (2.3-3.6 kg)
White with black, blue, chocolate, gold, grey, lilac or tortoise. Marking include butterfly mark on nose, colored ears, eye rings, spine marking (which is herringboned) and a spot on the cheek and a chain of spots along the body. Long arched body (like a hare).

Flemish Giant
13 lbs (5.9 kg) and over
Black, blue, fawn, light grey, sandy, steel grey, white. Long rabbit, heavy build (but shouldn't be fat).

Florida White
4-6 lbs (1.8-2.7 kg)
Pure white. Rounded body.

French Lop
10 lbs (4.5 kg) and over.
Agouti, broken, self, shaded, ticked or wide band groups.
Muscular heavy build.

Giant Chinchilla
12-16 lbs (5.5-7.3 kg)
Chinchilla coloration. Heavy build, rounded body.

Harlequin
6.5-9.5 lbs (3-4.3 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate, lilac.
Striking patterns alternating bands of color and white, with half the face white and the other half colored, and the ear on the white side colored, and vice versa.

Havana
4.5-6.5 lbs (2-3 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate. Compact, rounded body.

Himilayan
2.5-4.5 lbs (1.1-2 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate, lilac. Coloration develops on cooler extrmities - ears, nose, tail, feet and legs.

Holland Lop
Under 4 lbs (1.8 kg)
Agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide band color groups. Muscular build, lop ears.

Hotot
8-11 lbs (3.6-5 kg)
White with black eye ring. Well rounded body.

Jersey Wolly
Under 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
Wide variety of colors, long wooly coat.

Lilac
5.5-8 lbs (2.5-3.6 kg)
Lilac coloration. Compact body and dense coat.

Mini Lop
4.5-6.5 lbs (2-3 kg)
Agouti, broken, pointed white, self, shaded, ticked, or wide band color groups. Muscular and compact.

Mini Rex
3-4.5 lbs (1.4-2 kg)
Black, blue, broken group, castor, chinchilla, chocolate, himilayan, lilac, lynx, opal, red, seal tortoise, white.

Netherland Dwarf
Under 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
Self group, shaded group, agouti group, tan pattern group, fawn, himilayan, orange, steel, tortoiseshell. Ears seem to short for head.

New Zealand
9-12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg)
Black, red, white. Long muscular body.

Palomino
Under 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg)
Golden, lynx.

Polish
Under 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate, blue-eyed white, ruby-eyed white. Also has very short ears.

Rex
7.5-10.5 lbs (3.4-4.8 kg)
Black, black otter, blue, broken group, californian, castor, chinchilla, chocolate, lilac, lynx, opal, red, sable, seal, white.

Rhinelander
6.5-10 lbs (3-4.5 kg)
White with black and bright golden orange markings (6-8 round markings on each side of the back part of the body, as well as a spine marking, butterfly mark on the nose, eye circles, colord ears, and round cheek spots).

Satin
8.5-11 lbs (3.9-5 kg)
Black, blue, broken group, californian, chinchilla, chocolate, copper, red, siamese, white.

Silver
4-7 lbs (1.8-3.2 kg)
Black, brown, fawn with silver/white guard hairs.

Silver Fox
9-12 lbs (4.1-5.5 kg)
Jet black with silvering.

Silver Marten
6-9.5 lbs (2.7-4.3 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate, sable with silver-tipped guard hairs.

Standard Chinchilla
5-7.5 lbs (2.3-3.4 kg)
Chinchilla coloration. Rounded body.

Tan
4-6 lbs (1.8-2.7 kg)
Black, blue, chocolate, or lilac with tan (eye circles, nostrils, jowls, ears, backs of legs, toes, chest, belly, tail and neck collar).

Breeders are your best guarantee to getting a healthy, purebred rabbit....but don't forget...there are plenty of great rabbits in shelters too!

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