Rabbit advice(9 Posts)
My DD will be 5 in feb and she absolutely adores rabbits. I would like to get her a bunny, or rather two, and I think she is old enough and responsible enough to be diligent and involved in their care (although I appreciate the realty is that I will do most of it - that's fine). We have plenty space outside and/or a shed that we could convert, and space inside for them too if needed though I wouldn't intend for them to be exclusively house bunnies.
I've read a bit, and will make sure I am well-infomed before we start on this journey, but I have a few questions. I want to make sure we get healthy, well-treated bunnies and be absolutely as prepared as we need to be to give then a good and happy life. I am happy to hear any key tips and advice but my specific questions are:
- we really like Dutch rabbits. Are little ones likely to be available and ready to go in Feb?
- where should I go to make sure I am buying from a reputable dealer/seller?
- What do I need to look out for to make sure I'm not buying from someone who might not care about their wellbeing (I mean, do bunny-farmers exist in the way puppy-farmers do?)
It's great that you're really looking into it. I would go to a rescue. They usually have lots of young buns (as they often get pregnant mums coming in) and will have a lovely bonded pair for you.
They are hard work, i have a dutch rabbit and she is mental, very skittish. A minilop would be good for a young child as they are calm and cuddle and not so energetic which makes them easier to catch, my minilop is a sweetie but the dutch one - only i will go near her out of the whole family haha. Oh and dont be fooled by cuddly babies my dutch was an angel at first and turned into a she devil after 3 months hoping spaying will calm her down.
I agree with fernie about rescues. All mine have been rescue bunnies and rescues are generally very knowledgeable so can help with housing, care and bonding. I can recommend a couple if you let me know whereabouts you are,
Plus they usually neuter and vaccinate.
Bunnies are wonderful pets, but not particularly cuddly. Mine enjoy being stroked, but not picked up.
As a pp said, they are hard work. As someone who has had rabbits from a young age, you really have to put in the work handling them frequently to socialise them. They are prey animals and most actually are not particularly cuddly - my current boys are friendly as they come, but it is absolutely on their terms. Makes you really value the times they do come up for a head rub though!
They are also not cheap - if they are outside they need vaccinations, and regular dental checks on their teeth. Dental problems are not covered by most pet insurance policies and (as I've discovered) are bloody expensive.
If you go ahead, you should get a pair, rabbits prefer to be in groups. Neutering is a must, in boys it reduces spraying and aggressive behaviour and in girls lowers the risk of uterine cancer. Bear in mind that their temperament will change once they hit puberty and again after neutering when their hormones settle - one who was docile at first can quickly turn into an aggressive bun who will try and hump anything that moves!
That said, as long as you don't go in expecting a docile bun who will sit on your lap for cuddles all day, they are incredibly rewarding pets. My rescues have been far from easy or inexpensive since we took them on but I wouldn't change them for the world!
We have two and they are a nightmare! We have spent hundreds and hundreds of £££ on operations to get rid of abscesses (and had to give one of them 60 antibiotic injections on the trot ). We do love them but they take up loads of our time every day. They are quite nippy too if you don't handle them daily.
They are lovely though and it's sweet when they binky about.
Rabbits often aren't easy to handle. They can be expensive. One of ours had teeth that didn't match. He had to have very regular vet visits to trim them down!
Also fly strike is a menace. They must be kept clean.
At 4 nearly 5 she really won't be able to handle them. Unless you want bunnies I wouldn't get them. You will be cleaning out and doing the vet visits and feeding etc.
They are not ideal pets for a 5 year old. But if you decide to get some please get them from a Rescue. They will be able to match your with rabbits most suitable for you/your daughter.
Rabbits are fantastic pets, I have kept them for decades. If you want them to be friendly though you are better off having them as house rabbits so that they get plenty of regular human contact. They naturally choose one area as a toilet so are very easy to litter train from a young age. You are right that they need to be in pairs, they are incredibly social and will get depressed if they are lonely. Toys are also good to keep them occupied. If you must keep them outside they need a secure enclosure with plenty of space. Standard hutches often sold in pet shops are not sufficient - foxes etc can break into them even with locked doors and covers on, and even if they don't get in can terrify the rabbits so much that they die of shock.
As PP have said they are prey animals so you need to be patient and earn their trust over a period of time. The best way to do this is to sit or lie on the floor so you are at their level and let them come to you, then give them food when you stroke them. I have trained even very young bunnies to eat from my hand like this. They do not like to be picked up because this means they are helpless for fight/ flight. Whether your DC is old enough to understand this at 5 years old and treat them gently enough I'm not sure? Generally they are better pets for adults than for small children but it depends on the temperaments of the child and rabbits!
Once they trust you most are incredibly affectionate. Mine jump up on the sofa for cuddles or to watch TV. They are very playful and will race around together. Make sure wires are covered up or hidden though as they like to chew them. They have such individual personalities and are a joy to share a home with. They are also very intelligent and can be trained to understand instructions, but like a cat may choose to ignore you because they are stubborn when they get an idea in their head, e.g. eating the Christmas tree...!
Regular checkups can prevent dental problems developing, as can providing wood to chew. Many vets do discounted regular schemes for this and nail clipping. It's best to insure them and isn't expensive (we use Petplan). They need lots of space to run and race around, and should just be given hay and fresh vegetables to eat (no dried 'pellets' are necessary as this can make them overweight and also be a contributor to dental issues as it discourages them from chewing enough hay to grind down their teeth).
Good luck finding your perfect bunnies!
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