How To Buy Your First Rabbit Confidently

Questions run through your head as you scan the ads, looking for that perfect fit.

Personality? How much has she been handled? Is he really that cute? What should I be looking for? What questions should I ask?

You have the cage, food, dishes, toys….but the perfect bun is proving to be elusive.

How to Buy Your First Rabbit Confidently

Finally, you find an ad that looks promising.

A young doe, 3 months old. Registered breeder. Cute, handled since birth. The pictures suck you in. Your fingers pause, hovering above the keys….what to say? What should I ask?

Knowing what to ask is hard. What will get you the answers you need?

Ads, Websites & Social Media: What to Look For:

  • Clean, bright pictures.
  • Healthy, bright-eyed rabbits.
  • Clean backgrounds.
  • Well written ads – no misspelled words. Proper terminology. For example: a pedigreed rabbit is not the same as a registered rabbit.
  • Birthdate or approximate age of rabbit. No rabbit should be sold under 8 weeks of age. Ever.
  • Sales Policy – read it.
  • Quantity over quality or quality or quantity? Good breeders care more about health, temperament, and conformation then raising a host of rabbits.
  • Are the animals purebred? Pedigreed? While this is good to know if buying breeding stock, often quality breeders will buy a rabbit without a pedigree if they really like the rabbit. Pedigree is not everything. You are buying the rabbit…not a piece of paper.
  • Registered rabbitry/breeder. This show dedication to the breed and improving it.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is the rabbit’s age? (if not listed in the ad)
  • How is the rabbit’s personality?
  • Does she like being handled/petted? Is he aggressive?
  • What do you feed? Ask for hay type, food brand, and its protein percentage.
  • Price, if not listed.
  • Has he/she had any health problems?
  • If it is an older rabbit, ask politely why they are selling. Often older rabbits are retired breeding stock and can make excellent pets.
  • Ask whether they were raised inside or out. This affects what temperatures they are used to.
  • If you are looking for breeding stock, ask for pictures of parents.
  • If buying a proven doe or buck, ask for info on previous litters.
    • Size of litters
    • Mothering ability
    • Health of litters
    • Amount of litters
    • Colors
  • Do they mind if you ask questions after you buy a rabbit? Good breeders enjoy answering questions and offering support after a purchase. They enjoy hearing how their bunny is doing and seeing updated pictures.
  • If you like, you can ask how long they have been breeding, if they show, and any questions that come to mind.

What To Have BEFORE Hand:

  • Cage(s). For indoor pets, a plastic bottomed cage with plastic 1/4 to 1/2 way up the side and bars on top is great. For outdoors wire cages with trays underneath are good.
  • Bedding. Shavings or a litter tray.
  • Hay. Timothy is great, or non-dusty horse hay.
  • Food. Good quality pellets, not a rabbit mix. They will get too selective. Oats and barley are a great addition.
  • Water.
  • Food & water dishes.
  • A hideout.
  • Knowledge. Research your breed, rabbit care, acceptable treats, local pet or feed stores, rabbit savvy vets and breeders.

Checking Out Your Bun:

Make sure you check the health of your potential bunny before bringing him or her home. Use this as a guide:

  • Clean eyes, nose & ears
  • No snuffling or coughing
  • No watery/ glazed eyes
  • Hopping
  • Interested in humans
  • Interested in other rabbits
  • Eyes should not be bulging
  • Feet should be soft and fluffy, rather than matted with sores
  • Genital areas should not be inflamed or red
  • Rabbit should not be limping or be dragging his feet
  • Bunny should run/ kick a little bit, not to the point of pulling a muscle
  • Hold the bunny on it’s back, and gently extend its hind legs, there should be no “popping” sounds

Bringing Them Home:

When you bring your new pet home, remember that this is all new. They don’t know that you, their new cage, and the new smells are safe. Gently place her in the cage and leave her/him alone for a few hours to figure it out. Don’t sneak up quietly. Talk softly when coming up to them.

Let them settle into their new home. Offer food, water, and hay. Each time you open the cage to put something in, make sure she/he smells your hand and then the snack you offer. She’ll soon learn that you bring good things.

Be sure that the first time you pick her up, it is a good experience. Give him time to adjust to you and your smells & sounds.

Always be gentle. If she freaks out, tuck her head under your elbow, her body resting on your arm. Gently, but firmly, hold her there with your other hand. Rabbits think that if they can see anything it’s safe. A hideout in their cage is a good idea.

Get to know your bun, and she will get to know you.

Rabbits are a long-term commitment – you’re in for the long haul, so enjoy!

Lovin’ the buns,


How To Buy Your First Rabbit Confidently

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