What should I look for when selecting a rabbit as a pet?
Rabbits can be bought from pet stores or through breeders. When choosing your new pet, there are certain things you should look out for and don’t be afraid to ask questions:
- The eyes and nose should be clear and free of any discharge that might indicate a respiratory infection.
- The rabbit should be curious and inquisitive and it should not be thin or emaciated – run your hand along the backbone to check this.
- Check for any wetness or caking of droppings around the anus, which is abnormal and look for the presence of parasites such as fleas and ear mites (ear mites cause the production of brown wax in the ears).
- If possible, examine the rabbit’s mouth for broken or overgrown incisors (front teeth).
- Enquire whether the rabbit has been spayed or castrated (most will not have been until they are approximately 6 months old).
- Has been vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease?
- Ask the seller if they offer any guarantee of health or return policy.
- Finally, find out what the rabbit is being fed on, as you do not want to introduce a sudden change of diet when you get it home – this may provoke gut disturbance and diarrhoea.
There are also many unwanted rabbits in animal rescue and charity centres in need of a good home. However, remember that these rabbits may have health or behavioural problems and little may be known about their history. Seek expert advice before taking such a rabbit on – you may face unexpected problems.