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Can you tell me about keeping a rabbit? DD aged nearly nine would like on for Xmas.

(23 Posts)
saythatagain Wed 19-Sep-12 13:20:36

She's been desperate for a rabbit for ages.
We've never owed one so could do with good points and bad points.
It will be our intention to have it outside - is that ok?
If you could let me have the low down that would be smashing....thanks!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 19-Sep-12 15:02:09

Hi saythatagain - have you had a read through all the rabbit threads on here? Lots of rabbit owners' advice to mull over and take in their collective wisdom.

I'm a guinea-pig mum, but from what I've read about rabbits....

Some owners don't consider them ideal pets for children. Some (not all) can be difficult to handle -their physical size- and some rabbits don't like being lifted.
They can bite, kick, scratch.

If you have an indoor rabbit ,you need to rabbit proof everywhere they go.
If you have outdoor ones you really need 2. (Indoor would have human company).
Ideally male/female and both need neutered for health reasons and aggression issues as well as to stop them breeding.
They need vaccines .

A rescue will give you advice on what type of rabbit to consider. And the amount of room you'll need.
And they might be reluctant to re-home near Christmas.

And, as the adult, you will be responsible. My DD is 10yo but I wouldn't leave her to clean our Pighouse. She helps with feeding, nail cutting and bathing.And she's A1 at catching them grin
So if the passion for bunnies wanes, you'll have ?? years of care ahead of you.

But if your DD is set on rabbits, I don't think she'd be fobbed off with guinea-pigs. They are completely different (bit lazy TBH)

My DD helps with the school bunnies- but she much prefers her GPs wink

ratbagcatbag Wed 19-Sep-12 15:08:47

I have got two bunnies and they are happy together, one likes attention and fuss the other glares at your evilly, I would really suggest going along to a rescue, there are so many needing homes and they will be able to advise on personalities as well, so you can get a good idea of which ones would suit you.

Get as big a hutch as possible and a run (or enclosed garden) and genuinely think about costs for vets bills, I've had all mine insured until they got too old and it was costing me over £30 per month (which I save instead) but I did have one bunny that I spent nearly 1K on trying to sort out numerous health issues, and another that developed kidney failure cost over £400, but only because I tried to do everything to save them, the vets did give me the option, and as they were insured I did what I could, 1k bunny got another 10 months, kidney bunny died anyway sad
All mine bar kidney bunny (and I've had around 14 over the years) have been rescues.

saythatagain Wed 19-Sep-12 16:54:01

Thank you for your replies; you see this is what I'm concerned about - the real truth about having them. Already I'm reading that, as it will be ^an outside pet, there needs to be two.
I'm more than happy to look at rescue rabbits, particularly when you can get the opportunity to chose a type of character, instead of hoping that they're good natured, won't scratch/bite etc.
I'd been looking ar mini lops after my small amount of research. I think more investigation is required!

cornzy Wed 19-Sep-12 16:55:45

you'll need two if they're outside
they are expensive if they get sick
they don't like being picked up
think about what you'll do when you go on holiday

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 19-Sep-12 16:57:36

They will also need neutering which is another cost to factor in and if u go on holiday then you will need to get them
Vaccinated if you plan to use a boarding facility.

Quodlibet Wed 19-Sep-12 17:00:07

They live a loooooooonnng time. Will your DD still want a rabbit when she is 15?

Also, there's something I remember reading about how some aspect of how they are normally kept is actually very cruel and causes them stress - can't remember what it is but sure if you read the RSPCA's advice sheet it would flag it up.

Quodlibet Wed 19-Sep-12 17:02:41


70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 19-Sep-12 18:02:34

If you get rescue rabbits they will (depending on age) most likely be neutered and have had their vaccinations.
Rescues won't allow you to take a rabbit for breeding so may will put into the Adoption Certificate that you need to neuter when the time is due.

Holidays boardings is another expense to consider. (Don't know how much it is for rabbits but we paid IIRC £7 a day for our 2 boars)

Insurance- definately worth considering.

Is there any way your DD could help out with looking after a school rabbit or a friends rabbit so that she knows what's really involved.

TBH I wouldn't lavish so much time on an animal that I couldn't tuck inside my cardigan and cuddle. Our pigs do take a bit of looking after (they are spoiled gits grin ) but few things compare to 2 little noses poking out of the hay box and the wheeking sound when they hear their door open.

Oh ,that's another rabbit downside- no wheeking, no squeaking no purring no rumblestrutting no sharking and I'm pretty sure they don't popcorn. grin

FernieB Thu 20-Sep-12 10:18:14

70 - they don't popcorn but they do binky (big leaps in the air sometimes from a standing start) which is great.

saythatagain - don't be put off rabbits, they are harder work but worth it as they have great characters. If you are having them outdoors, definitely need to have 2 and make sure you have a big hutch and a run so they can get plenty of exercise. They spend a large part of the day resting and are more active first thing in the morning and then in the evening. If you handle them a lot, they get used to it. Rabbits do not like being picked up, but once up, most will cuddle happily. Our boy gets tucked up with my DD's at night.

Rabbits do need to be neutered and vaccinated. If you adopt (we did) from a rescue, this will most likely have been done. You will also be able to get 2 which have already been bonded and get on well together. They will also give you some indication of the character of the rabbits. Older bunnies are usually calmer and more sensible than the youngsters. Rabbits are fairly intelligent and can be trained to obey some commands if you/your daughter has the patience. My previous bun knew and mainly obeyed nearly 20 words/hand signals - current bun is not the brightest spark but still manages a couple and he is wonderfully toilet trained (which he did himself).

You do need to think about what you'll do when you go away. If they are outdoors with a run and you have good neighbours, then you should be okay. There are boarding facilities for small animals - I pay around £7 per day for mine. Just like piggies they need to have their claws clipped and you should check their eyes and ears regularly. If you can get your rabbits used to sitting on your knee for cuddles then this is quite easy, but some rabbits just don't like it.

If you kept it indoors, be prepared for chaos - it's like having a toddler all the time. I love my boy though and wouldn't be without him even when he chews reads books/DVDs.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Thu 20-Sep-12 10:42:16

grin @ current bun (Currant bun- shallow and easily pleased me) blush

GPs don't learn and respond but do a pretty good Pavlov's Dog response to a rustling bag or the fridge door opening (but without all the unpleasant drooling) wink

strictlycaballine Fri 21-Sep-12 11:02:31

Agree with everything FernieB says ..

70 ours rabbits bink and hurl themselves at our French windows of a morning in order to attract our attention/get food. They do it alternately so it looks like someone is flinging beige and black furry pillows at the glass...grin

saythatagain I have a nine year old dd and we just gone from having two (much-loved, sadly deceased) gps to two lovely angora dwarf (they are actually quite big) Dutch lop eared rabbits. Although we really really miss our gps very much every day (especially the loud wheeking) I am finding rabbits a real pleasure to keep.

It's true they don't like being picked up but they are a lot more intelligent (sorry 70 grin) and nosy than gps and therefore a bit more interactive in a non-contact sort of way (especially if you instigate a bit of regular training/fun with them). Their antics have us laughing every day and frankly I just enjoying looking at them too. They've become indispensable members of the family in a really short time. One of ours follows us about and loves "joining in"

They aren't as hard to catch as our guinea pigs at night (no diving in to bushes required!) as they (nearly always!) can be lured in to their cage on their own steam without being picked up. They definitely don't like being cuddled and hate having their coats groomed (still work in progress - this will get better apparently). I will be relying on the vet to cut their nails too because they are so feisty, whereas I would happily give the gps a pedicure by myself.

I wouldn't have rabbits for dc under 9 yrs though. Nine is a good age to handle them sensitively. DD's only been nipped slightly by one of our rabbits once, when she was a bit over-enthusiastic.

I actually find them less trouble than gps atm while they are mainly outside (we have walled garden) and they sleep in huge hutch at night but I am anticipating that they will need a lot more work and attention once they more confined in winter.

(Although my vet says to still let them outside in the day during winter however cold - and that they will even be fine on snow apparently because of the fur-covered pads on underside of paws -she's all for keeping animals as naturally as possible. I'm a bit worried about this but everything else she has said so far has proved to be true....

I find cleaning the rabbits much easier than gps because they tend to 'go' in just one or two corners of their cage, rather than scatter gun like gps; so it's easy to clean up every day and then have full cage clean out once a week (unlike gps which required full clean out every 3 to four days). Again though, as they are free-ranging in our garden atm, the cleaning will be much more intense during winter.

However,as FernieB says - they can behave like hugely destructive toddlers (especially if not given enough mental stimulation) both outside and in. So far my two have dug up quite a few of my plants, nibbled all the flowers in pots on our terrace and inside they have so far chewed through two lamp cables, the cable to dd's electronic piano and the cable through my Internet radio .... so do remember to facture in those costs too ...! Once inside they will "rampage" around the room, exploring every nook and cranny, chewing slippers, shredding newspapers etc They have litter trained themselves very easily though (unlike gps).

Ours have been (once so far) to boarding "kennels" for 14 days - it cost 9 euros a day for the two of them. Vaccinations cost a whopping Euros 70 (over here anyway) but vet does home visits. They need loads of hay and that can be quite expensive too if you don't live in the country.

I personally think it's definitely preferable to buy a pair:; simply because they are herd animals and that is a much more natural state for them and for the reasons stated above best to buy from a rescue centre (unlike me - didn't even know their gender for first four months!).

Good luck whatever you decide!

FernieB Fri 21-Sep-12 13:06:40

Agree with strictlycaballine - rabbits are a lot more interactive. They are easier to catch than GP's eventually. They may be skittish at first but once you establish a routine, they will follow it themselves. Our previous girl used to take herself off to bed once the TV was turned off in the evening and our current bun (that's just for you 70 grin) puts himself to bed as soon as he hears the GP's doing their 'we've got cabbage' squeaking. Cleaning out is much easier - my boy has a thorough clean once every 10 days and I just do his litter tray every day (he's only in his cage at night) but the GP's are complete slobs and need cleaning up hourly every 2 days.

strictly - when I was small we had an outside rabbit who loved running about in the snow. Also the garden looked lovely covered in her pawprints.

strictlycaballine Fri 21-Sep-12 13:43:47

oooh you have both rabbits and gps Fernieb envy envy envy

and reassuring about snow!!

FernieB Sat 22-Sep-12 20:09:28

I think if they're kept outside they acclimatise and will be fine running round in the snow. In the wild, they run round outside whatever the weather, so your rabbits will be fine. Mine is a complete wuss who after living indoors all his life needs blankets and radiators to get through the day.

strictlycaballine Sun 23-Sep-12 10:50:03

Thanks FernieB that's what I am slighty worried about though - the adjustment thing. Because I'm intending to keep our rabbits downstairs in basment (reasonably well lit) at night during the winter (they will have insulated sleeping quarters and reasonably large enclosure in which to roam) and then out in walled garden, weather permitting (and with shelter available of course) during the day.

I thought this would give them best of both worlds/more variety plus warmth at night. But I'm worried now that it might be harder for them to adjust to cold if they are in and out all the time? The basement is quite cold though.
Not sure now!!

FernieB Tue 25-Sep-12 10:35:50

They should be okay. How well lit is the basement? I would just be concerned about them being in the dark or gloom for most of the winter when it's not dry enough for them to go out. Having said that, our previous rabbit used to hop down to the (very dark) cellar herself and spend the day there. They are very contrary creatures.

FateLovesTheFearless Tue 25-Sep-12 10:40:17

I have an indoor rabbit and she is fab! She loves nose rubs, dandelion leaves, stalking the cat and has funny five minutes like a dog, tears around the lounge and binkys!

She also chews everything and drives me mad but I wouldn't be without her. She belongs to my daughter who feeds her every day, changes get water and plays with her.

She has never liked being picked up but likes to come and sit beside you for nose rubs.

She is also insured but no health problems as yet.

strictlycaballine Tue 25-Sep-12 14:20:34

FernieB thanks for advice (again!). Basement has a fair amount of natural light during the day but couldn't be described as bright. I will have to ensure that they get loads of time on the ground floor too when the whether is foul. We are intending to keep a very good shelter for them in the garden for during the day too (so they have lots of options).

Your bun sounds lovely Fatelovesthefearless!

PS picked up dd from a friend's house over the weekend and realised that my "dwarf" rabbits are larger than their dog ... admittedly it's a miniature yorkie but still ....

strictlycaballine Tue 25-Sep-12 14:21:13

sorry for thread hi-jack saythatagain

Let us know what you decide!

FernieB Wed 26-Sep-12 11:58:06

Previous bun was a 'dwarf' but no-one told her that and she grew. Current Bun is a French Lop and is huge. He doesn't like being picked up but as he's quite heavy, this is no bad thing. Only have problems when he thinks he can fit in spaces that he can't grin

strictlycaballine Wed 26-Sep-12 16:56:06

Funny you should say that Fernie - one of mine got stuck between my craft trunk and the wall today. I don't think they realise that they have grown ...

peppapigpants Fri 28-Sep-12 22:52:00

We got two from a rescue centre, siblings from the same litter. Holly died a couple of weeks ago but Harry is still going strong. He is at least 9 and a half years old now so be prepared to have your bunnies around for a long time.

They always lived outside and were happy to be picked up.

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