Talk to me about rabbits

(23 Posts)
Lexie1970 Sun 31-Mar-13 17:52:07

We are looking at getting a couple of bunnies - the last small creature I had was nearly 30 years ago!!!

Been reading up on things and realise they are better in pairs if they are going to be outside bunnies - do you thing girl/boy or girl/girl are best?

Re hutch -totally agree bigger is better - been looking around in pet tores and the hutches seem small and flimsy -any recommendations for getting decent hutch.

On subject of hutch also thinking split level would be good - do you put sawdust on both levels - do you need sawdust/shavings and if it is outside does it not get wet. We will get it a run for the garden as my concern is that I'd they have free range of the garden they may disappear.

Do you think it is better to get babies or adopt a pair from a rescue centre. As you can see I am giving this a lot of thought before we get them....

I want our bunnies to be happy bunnies grin

cathers Sun 31-Mar-13 20:04:50

We have a boy and girl bunny. Both neutered / spayed and they get on wonderfully. They have a single level hutch which has sawdust then hay on top. I wouldn't think you need sawdust on both levels- just the top one.

Our bunnies were babies when we got them which meant they had to be kept separate, though in contact, till neutered- a pair of rescue bunnies will probably already be bonded for you so they could go in to the same hutch together straight away. However, as babies, our buns were handled regularly from a young age and so are very, very placid now. I imagine a pair of rescue buns, unless young, may take longer to tame.

Hi Lexie-

Disclaimer: I'm not a bunny person. I like my Super Furry Animal to be squeaky, greedy , non tailey and with little floppy ears.

Who are the rabbits FOR?. Is it DC who want them or are they for you? You'll be doing 99% of the rabbit related work , y'know.
They are not considered to be good children's pets. Some don't take to being lifted.

If you are going down the Rescue Route they will have some bonded pairs. They'll be neutered and immunised before you get them (you'll pay a donation but you'd have to pay for this anyway)

You might find some that have been surrended for no fault of their own (allerfies, owners moving) .There will be some there for behaviour problems but you can say that you want friendly ones.

And they'll give you an honest idea of what you'll need WRT to space, rabbit runs, protecting them from predators and escape.

Read up about their diet needs.
And factor in vet bills for annual boosters.

Lots of bunny threads on here to peruse at your leisure. I think it's very sad that rabbits are the most neglected small pet.
Probably because people don't understand what rabbits need and what they're about. I can think of fewer things more depressing than a rabbit in a hutch alone.

Enjoy your research and those rabbits are waiting for you grin

FernieB Mon 01-Apr-13 15:03:59

Go online and search for hutches as there are a lot of places that make much bigger hutches than anything you'll find in a pet store, although these are not cheap.

Definitely get 2 bunnies and definitely get them neutered whatever gender you go for - this is essential for health and temperament reasons. I think it cost about £60 to have our boy neutered. You also need to factor in annual injections/health checks which can be pricey. On a practical note, you should also consider how happy you will be to clip their claws (rabbits don't always like this and may not be co-operative - they are very strong when they struggle and could inflict some nasty scratches) or whether you'll need to pay for this to be done. Additionally, think about who is going to look after them if you go away - hopefully you're lucky enough to have a friendly neighbour who'll do the feeding and let them out for a run, but if not, is there a bunny boarding facility nearby? These can charge anything from £6 - £12 per day. One other thing re: diet - bunnies have sensitive tums and a change in diet can upset them. Whichever food they are started off with, you really need to continue with. You can change them to something else but this must be done gradually. Previous bun was eating the most expensive stuff available and we had to keep her on it! Current bun loves the cheap stuff.

As 70 says, rabbits are not really recommended as pets for kids as they don't generally like to be handled, although are very happy to be stroked just so long as all four paws are on the ground. If you go for babies, you'll have a better chance of having friendly bunnies so long as you handle them a lot whilst young so they get used to it. Older bunnies may be set in their ways and it can take a long time to get them used to you depending upon their background. You may be able to get some babies from a rescue - they do quite often end up with pregnant females.

The amount of research you're doing suggests that your bunnies will definitely be happy buns, so good luck and hope you get settled with some long-eared pals soon.

FernieB Mon 01-Apr-13 15:05:50

70 - Current bun is greedy, a little bit squeaky and has enormous floppy ears - does this qualify him as an honorary GP?

Meglet Mon 01-Apr-13 15:12:16

Rabbits are very hard work IME, not really suitable for children. I've had one rabbit but several g-pigs over the years.

Personally I prefer them to be free range indoors and outdoors, more like a cat / puppy than a guinea pig, I think they are happier with lots of space. Mine had a kennel in the daytime then the sofa at night hmm. She was a big bruiser though so the local cats kept well clear.

She ate the flowers and chewed through any cables she came across. But she was (almost) litter tray trained in the house so she slotted in fairly well. Football was popular too smile. She was a great pet but I'm not in a position to have another one these days.

Lexie1970 Mon 01-Apr-13 17:03:20

Thanks for all your bunny advice smile the bunnies are for 6 year old son but I realise it will be doing the bulk of the rabbit care.

As we currently have a cat that will only eat hi-life food at 75p a pouch I know pet care is not cheap!!!

I will keep looking for suitable hutches smile

Floralnomad Mon 01-Apr-13 17:10:07

We got our hutch several years ago from the local RSPCA and its one level and huge ,but we have a huge bunny . I also agree with the other posters who have said that rabbits often don't make good children's pets , guinea pigs and rats are much better .

Fernie current bun may well be all these things -and more- but can you tuck him in your cardigan and go to the fridge to raid the salad tray? I do tell the boars that they shouldn't have salad out of the fridge but they won't listen grin

I rest my case. Court adjourned.

cathers Mon 01-Apr-13 18:38:38

I think if you are getting a bun that will be handled by children then a young pair will probably be best.

I think alot of the opinions of rabbits being unfriendly, scratchy etc, come from experiences of rabbits that have been poorly socialised. However, if handled frequently and correctly, they can be excellent pets. Lots of handling early on, understanding that they are prey animals and fearful of lifting initially can really bring them out of their shell. Our two are almost 'dog like', they wait for dc's by the gate when they come home, walk up the road with them and greet the postman! All our guineas have been very timid and much less confident personalities.

Lexie1970 Mon 01-Apr-13 21:47:34

So..... What is the best age to get the bunnies - some seem to be about 8 weeks and others closer to 12.

V.v.v. Conscious that current cold weather is not conducive to baby bunnies!!

zeeboo Mon 01-Apr-13 23:30:09

Please consider a shed rather than a hutch, or a chicken house with a big run. If you do use a hutch allow them to be free range during the day and only hutch them at night.
Please read this
http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/ahutchisnotenough.htm
Leaving a rabbit in a hutch even what pet shops call 'large' two tier ones is cruel if done for more than just over night.

midori1999 Tue 02-Apr-13 09:46:34

The minimum space required for a rabbit is a 6ft x 2 ft hutch and permanent access to a run of at least 8ft x 4ft or equivalent. I have never seen a hutch in a pet shop big enough for rabbits.

I would suggest approaching a good rescue. (Not all are good) there are many, many rabbits in rescues and personally I don't think it's ethical to buy from irresponsible breeders or pet shops that add to this problem. A rescue will only be interested in he welfare of the rabbit and will therefore be honest with you about the requirements needed and what you can expect from a pet rabbit. Whereas anyone like a pet shop wanting to make money from selling animals isn't going to have the welfare at the forefront of their mind. Rescues often have babies in too, so getting a rescue doesn't mean you rule out a baby bun. However, the cost of neutering a pair of bunnies would be close to £200, whereas rescues almost always neuter adult buns before they are homed and many are very tame still.

Our rescue bun is as friendly as our 'raised from a baby with snuggles' (not by us, he came from a vet nurse friend) but neither particularly like being picked up. They follow us around and will come and sit on our laps for ages and will sit there if we plonk them there, but they do prefer not to be picked up at all. I can't see either of them dreaming of biting, but again, I have to agree with those who say they aren't ideal pets for children and having owned many guineas as children I think guinea pigs are infinitely better pets for children, although like all animals, need gentle handling.

Floralnomad Tue 02-Apr-13 11:42:54

My bun is relatively friendly ,in that he will let you stroke him and pick him up without having a hissy fit but he would prefer to be left alone . We previously had a Belgian Hare and he was much more dog like ,followed us around etc so if you are going for a breeder and babies it may be worth checking them out . They are also extremely beautiful .

WRT what zeeboo wrote.
My guineas have a playhouse (wooden like a little Swiss Chalet. On a raised wooden plinth. A door with a removable screen /wooden door and the wooden 'proper' door. 4 windows, one that is removable with a re-inforced flyscreen and fox-proof bars behind it.

It's brilliant because it's roomy, airey and we already had it (the DC outgrew it). You can customise a shed to suit your needs and build different levels. My GPs are very much ground level though.

There's lots of deals on Ebay/Freecycle for sheds, cost wouldn't be much more than a hutch.

We have a concrete bit at the back, I'm planning to get DH to make an attatched run for them for summer,

FernieB Tue 02-Apr-13 20:24:04

Lexie - baby bunnies are lovely and if you get them you'll be able to handle them a lot to make them more docile, but they are very silly. My Current Bun is almost 2 (his birthday on Thurs grin) and is just settling down and beginning to be trainable! From 8 weeks they should be fine - previous bun was this age when we got her and she was handled a lot from birth and she would let us pick her up. She also loved cuddles and would sit on me all evening watching TV especially if Masterchef was on!

FernieB Tue 02-Apr-13 20:26:40

70 - I could fit Current Bun easily into the front of a maternity cardigan and take him to the fridge but he'd probably be more interested in trying to climb the shelves. He spent all yesterday evening lying in the pigs cage pretending to be a pig. Smoothpig cuddled up with him and Scruffypig came into the living room and pretended to be a rabbit.

Hmmm Fernie you need to get Current Bun and ScruffyPig up on the couch and ask them to "Tell me about your childhood".

DD and I saw 2 rabbits (in a Petshop) pretending to be firseide rugs (ie motionless)

DD was unimpressed to say the least.( She used to look after School Bunnies)

I thought the poor little souls needed a big grassy lawn to Free Range on. sad

SoftSheen Tue 02-Apr-13 22:30:27

I second what others say about getting a very large hutch and a large attached run, or better still, free access to the garden. Rabbits like to run around!

The hutch should be high enough for the rabbit to stand up on its hind legs (many hutches aren't!). I used to keep Netherland Dwarfs (a very small breed) for which a 5 foot hutch was adequate but most rabbits will need a 6 foot hutch. Bare in mind that most pet shops sell bunnies as babies which will mature to a considerably larger size.

IMO it is acceptable to confine rabbits to their (large) hutch at nighttime in order to protect them from predation. However, bear in mind that rabbits are most active at dusk and dawn and so ideally, you should let them out in their run at the crack of dawn and only put them away when it starts to get dark.

Rabbits are quite a lot of work compared to other common pets such as cats or guinea pigs. A lot of people would say that they are not really suitable for children but personally I think this depends on the child and rabbits in question. Most rabbits don't like being picked up but with time and patience they can become very tame and may enjoy being hand fed, stroked etc.

I used to keep my rabbits in a large (12' x 14') pen surrounded by a 6 foot wall on three sides. In the evenings I would sit on the wall and watch the rabbits playing, digging tunnels, leaping in the air and doing all sorts of amazing things you would never imagine from seeing a depressed rabbit confined to a small hutch.

I am quite jealous, I would love to get a pair of rabbits now but we just don't have the space! Good luck! smile

midori1999 Tue 02-Apr-13 23:30:03

I have to say, my rabbits have missed the memo about being crepescular. They are noisy little buggers all night, so much so that we have had to take their hay rack down as they were keeping the whole house awake, although they still make an awful lot of noise all night. shock

SnowSeaandMotorboats Wed 03-Apr-13 12:44:07

The reason they don't make great pets for children is because their back legs are very strong but their spines are not. If a child is holding a bun and it gets spooked by something, it can kick out quickly to try and flee and break its own back. So it's best that your child doesn't hold it but pets it on the ground.

fumanchu Wed 03-Apr-13 16:07:56

In addition to the excellent advice already given, please insure your rabbits against vet's fees. One of my rabbits needed 3 dental operations - cost was c£1,800 - one of the most common reasons rabbits need the vet (apart from vaccination and neutering).

Lexie1970 Wed 03-Apr-13 21:47:16

Thanks again for all helpful advice- we do have reasonable size garden but loathe to let be completely free range as there is a jack Russell next door!!!

I think we will look at getting a hutch made [bugrin]

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