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Your First Rabbit:
What Kind of Rabbit Should I Adopt?

Should I adopt a baby or an adult rabbit?

Baby rabbits are adorable but there are more advantages to adopting a rabbit one year of age or older if you are not an experienced rabbit person. As you gain experience with rabbits, you may then decide that you would like to raise a baby rabbit.

  • Getting a rabbit as a baby does not necesarily enhance the rabbit-human bond.
  • Baby rabbits are very destructive. Adult rabbits have grown beyond this stage.

Rabbit Development

Personality and level of affection in a growing rabbit changes rapidly through the first year. When rabbits reach puberty at about 2 1/2 to 4 months of age, the males become aggressive and the females even more so. Your relationship must evolve along with your rabbit as s/he moves through his/her lifecycle changes in the first year of life. As with our own species, the personality you observed in your baby rabbit may not be evident in your adult rabbit. Rescued rabbits have already been socialized in preparation for adoption.

After adolescence and spaying or neutering, rabbits are more amenable to training. Baby rabbits are incredibly destructive but adult rabbits can be taught to chew only on acceptable items. Litter box habits are much improved once the rabbit is an adult. Rescued rabbits have been litter box trained prior to adoption.

A Word Of Caution If You Are Adopting Two Baby Rabbits:
It is notoriously difficult to determine the gender of young rabbits. There are many unfortunate stories about two "female" rabbits who have their first litter at the age of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 months. Rabbits can mate as early as age 2 1/2 months. Because rabbits mate immediately after the birth of a litter, they may be pregnant with a second litter while they are still nursing the first one. Another advantage of adopting an adult rabbit from a rescue organization is that they have already been spayed or neutered. It is also recommended that male baby rabbits be weaned at 8 weeks so that they do not impregnate their mothers.

A single or a pair (bonding rabbits)?

Rabbits are social creatures and do best when they share their lives with another of their own kind so it is recommended that you get rabbits in pairs. If you are a first time rabbit person, you might want to start with one and get your rabbit's buddy at a later time. Just like us, rabbits have their preferences about with whom they like to hang out. Your rabbit should choose his/her rabbit buddy. Rabbit organizations can arrange for your rabbit to speed date with other eligilble single rabbits and help you bond them when your rabbit has made his/her choice. Getting your rabbit a buddy rarely changes your rabbit's relationship with you. You're the one with the food after all.

Read more about multiple rabbits and bonding:

What about breed? And size?

The dwarf breeds are what most people are familiar with but rabbits come in many breeds and sizes. They can weigh as little as one and one-half pounds or as much as up to twenty pounds. VERY generally speaking, the larger breeds tend to be more laid back and the smaller breeds more hyperactive. The most critical feature, however, is the individual rabbit's personality which transcends breed. Rescued rabbits may be one breed or a mixture of several breeds. It is best to pick your rabbit based on his/her suitability to you and your family rather than breed. Also, in the July 2003 issue, Consumer Reports recommended that to control veterinary costs, one should choose mixed breed animals because they do not suffer from as many hereditary diseases. It is possible, however, to get a mixed breed rabbit with hereditary diseases.

Read more about breeds and myths.

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