Where to buy a Rabbit ?


In the past various veterinary authorities have made strong recommendations to the public about where they should or should not buy pets from. These recommendations followed scandalous reports in the '70's  about the neglect and abuse of puppies in so-called "puppy farms". As a result many countries (including the UK) have now introduced legislation to control establishments involved in the breeding and selling of animals.

If you are thinking about buying a rabbit the first thing to do is to realise the commitment you are going to have to make to look after it ensure that you provide all the necessary :

  • Environmental conditions - hutch, run, heating, bedding
  • Food
  • Water

There are several possible places you can get an rabbit :

  1. A neighbour, relative or friend - good idea as you probably know a lot about the background conditions and care of the animal. BUT see Guidelines below
  2. A specialist serious breeder - generally a good idea - if anyone knows how to breed and rear rabbits properly a breeder should. Still, see Guidelines below
  3. A casual breeder - careful - do they really know what they are doing ? Are they just in it for the money. See Guidelines below.
  4. A pet shop (small private concern) - not a bad idea if the rabbit has genuinely come from a good source and the pet shop is clean, well run and practices good basic hygiene - see Guidelines below
  5. A pet store (large chain) - not a bad idea if the Pet Store is well run, clean, practices good hygiene and they can give assurances about the origin of the rabbit. See Guidelines below.

Here are some Guidelines to follow before you buy an rabbit. 

If you follow these Guidelines you should reduce the chances of disappointment with your new pet.

a) Consider your situation first

  1. Do not buy a rabbit unless you are sure that the one you get will suit your life style, that you can afford to look after it properly,  and that you have the time to commit to it. 
  2. NEVER buy on impulse - for example, when you see a beautiful large white rabbit  in a shop window don't rush in and buy it.
  3. Can you afford to look after a rabbit properly ?
  4. Have you got the time to look after a rabbit properly ?

b) The premises

It is important to be satisfied about the health standards of the establishment that you are buying the rabbit from :

  1. The most important single Guideline is this : Whenever possible buy from a source that has been recommended to you by an independent person - a friend, neighbour, a well known breeder or member of the family. Someone whose judgment you can trust.
  2. Satisfy yourself that  the premises are clean and tidy. Is the animal's environment clean? Ask to inspect "behind the scenes"
  3. Are the animals themselves clean ?
  4. Is there fresh, clean water available ?
  5. Are animals from different sources kept separately (advisable) or are they mixed together (not desirable as this increases the likelihood of exposure to disease) ?
  6. If you have not been given a personal recommendation about the establishment - ask them to give you the names of three reference sites where you will get a positive endorsement.
  7. Where appropriate satisfy yourself that the establishment is a registered facility and that it satisfies all local registration requirements. Ask to see their Certificates of Registration.

c) The rabbit

Buying a sick rabbit is the worst possible start for you and for your new pet. There are plenty of healthy rabbits looking for a new home. Think THREE times about the possible consequences before you commit to buying a pet that is obviously  ill. Signs to look for are :

  • Not eating food
  • Abnormal appearance - abnormal colour, sores on the skin
  • Underweight
  • Overweight
  • Lethargy and dullness
  • Large number of surface parasites
  • Signs of abnormal discharges - especially from the nose or eyes as these may indicate  "Snuffles" - a serious and potentially fatal disease
  • Sores in the mouth or abnormal teeth
  • Diarrhoea - soiling under the tail and down the legs

This is particularly important if you are going to introduce the animal into a household with young children. They will be heartbroken if you have to take the rabbit back because of illness or if it dies.

  1. Never buy a rabbit that looks ill
  2. If you are buying an expensive rabbit insist that the vendor has the creature checked and gets a clean bill of health from a veterinarian who specialises in rabbits before you buy it 




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