So, you’ve decided to get a rabbit. You’ve done all your research. You’ve rabbit-proofed your home. You’ve got a cage, food, and lots of toys. You’ve even decided on a name. But perhaps the most important decision is yet to come: where do you get your rabbit?
Many pet stores offer rabbits for sale. Upon seeing a crate full of adorably helpless baby bunnies, many folks can’t resist the urge to take one home right there and then. Pet stores count on the appeal of the immature rabbit to stimulate impulse buying. Frequently, the rabbit is bought as a child’s pet by an adult who does not realize that rabbits make poor pets for small children.
There are no reliable figures as to how many of these rabbits are abandoned, given up to shelters, or die from improper care, but it seems likely that many suffer such a fate. One animal rescue organization reports that in 2007, they received requests for sheltering for 380 rabbits- while in the same year, they placed only two rabbits in new homes.
Most people think of rabbits as a kind of rodent, and on par with a rat or gerbil in terms of care and commitment required. This misconception has terrible consequences for the unlucky rabbit. With an average lifespan of around 10 years, the baby rabbit you bought for your child when he was 8 should still be alive when he’s getting ready to graduate from high school.
This is only one of the many reasons that adopting a rabbit from an animal shelter is preferable to buying one from a pet store or breeder. Most rabbits sold in pet stores are less than a year old, and if the store is not particularly scrupulous, they may even be younger than 6 weeks- the minimum age at which a rabbit can be removed from its mother.
Rabbits found in animal shelters run the gamut of ages, from a few months to old age. By choosing a rabbit whose age aligns with the length of commitment you are willing to make, you will save yourself and the rabbit a great deal of hardship. Also, mature rabbits are often better choices for first-time rabbit owners.