Posted: December 22, 2012, 4 a.m. EST
Rabbit Meeme/Courtesy Mari Osenga
Consider more than how cute a rabbit is before you add one to your family.
1. Right Rabbit Breed for You: First consider the breed or type of rabbit you want. Do you have a particular breed of rabbit in mind, or are you happy with a mixed-breed bunny? Is your heart set on a particular color? What about size? Do you want a small, medium or a large rabbit? Research the breeds you are drawn to and determine if their disposition and care requirements are compatible with your lifestyle.
If you aren’t sure what your preferences are in these areas, do a little research, and see what breeds, colors and sizes are available. Keep in mind that some breeds have different temperaments and care requirements. For example, the Britannia Petite and the Checkered Giant tend to be more active than other breeds. (The personalities of individual animals vary within each breed, so these are generalities.) Some breeds, such as the Angora breeds and the Jersey Wooly, have coats that require frequent grooming, so you need to factor in their more diligent grooming requirements.
2. Right Rabbit Age for You: Determining the age of the rabbit you want isn’t difficult if you consider the following: Young rabbits are more work than older rabbits, yet you’ll have less time with an older rabbit than you will with a younger one.
Young rabbits often require litter-box training, and they can be feisty and a bit difficult during their adolescent period. Older rabbits are often more sedate. An older rabbit’s ultimate personality and size will also be evident, whereas a young rabbit will need to grow into both.
If you have your heart set on a baby bunny, be sure the rabbit is at least 4 weeks old before you adopt it. This will ensure that the rabbit is weaned and old enough to be away from its mother.
3. Right Rabbit Gender for You: Whether to adopt a male rabbit or a female rabbit is not much of a concern if you plan to have your new pet spayed or neutered — or if the rabbit has already been rendered unable to reproduce. Both genders make great pets.
If you haven’t thought about having your rabbit spayed or neutered, or would like one that is capable of breeding, consider the consequences of having an intact rabbit. Even if you plan to keep only a single rabbit, you are more likely to deal with inappropriate urination if your pet is intact, because unspayed and unneutered rabbits often mark their territory with urine.
4. Right Number of Rabbits for You: Most people want just one pet rabbit. However, many rabbit enthusiasts believe rabbits that live with members of their own species are more likely to live longer, happier lives than solitary bunnies.
The plus side of having two or more rabbits living together is that you don’t have to feel guilty when you aren’t home to spend time with your bunny — you’ll know that your pet has a cagemate for company. You’ll also have the joy of watching your bunnies groom each other, play together and snuggle with one another.
If you decide to get more than one rabbit, be sure the bunnies are spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters, otherwise you will have a house full of rabbits. Also, take care when introducing strange rabbits to one another. Bunnies need time to bond with other rabbits and will often fight if suddenly thrown together. Introductions must be made gradually, and rabbits should be kept in separate cages near one another for a week or more before allowing them to interact.
Excerpt from the Popular Critters® Series magabook Rabbits®,with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase Rabbits here.