When people decide to get a pet rabbit they sometimes tell me they would only be comfortable buying a new baby rather than adopting from a rescue group. “Don’t worry,” they say, “We’ll only buy from a very reputable breeder”. When I tell them it’s better to adopt from a reputable rescue rather than buy from a breeder, they say, “We know we really should adopt, but we want a perfect, healthy bunny. We want a ‘new’ one”.

Although adoption is certainly the humane thing to do – it helps save the adopted bunny’s life, helps save the lives of countless other rabbits waiting for shelter space, doesn’t contribute to the miserable lives of “breeder does” confined to producing litter after litter, and doesn’t financially support an industry that puts profit over the wellbeing of companion animals – adoption is not only better for the rabbit, it is better for the adopter too. There are several compelling reasons why…

When you adopt from a good rabbit rescue, you get an adult, socialised, spayed or neutered, litter-trained and known bunny.

Adult There will be no big hormonal changes when a bunny goes through puberty – because he’s already gone through puberty – no behavioural problems for the adopter to deal with, no changes in personality. What you see is what you get, with no unwelcome surprises.

Socialised The adopted bunny won’t be fearful, biting, hiding, cage-defensive, catatonic, etc. Rescuers get bunnies like this all the time. But we work with them for as long as they need before making them, when they are ready, available for adoption.

Spayed/Neutered For many health and behavioural reasons, spaying and neutering is recommended. For one thing, spaying eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, that can affect 50% to 80% as the females age. People who adopt spayed/neutered rabbits enjoy all the benefits (improved health, better litter-training, a bunny who’s not living at the mercy of his/her hormones) without the stress and expense of going through a surgical procedure and recovery period.

Litter-trained Need I say more?

Known Chances are that the adopted rabbit, who by this time will have lived weeks, months or even years in responsible foster care, will likely have already experienced any latent illnesses or conditions to which he may be prone. This is not to say that a healthy bunny won’t get ill later in life. But if a rabbit has, for instance, a dental problem, the fosterer will have found out and rectified it, and will inform the adopter about it. If a bunny cannot reach to eat her caecal droppings or perform other tasks, the fosterer will know, will know why, and will have rectified (or at least started to rectify) the problem with good vet care and/or diet adjustment, and will inform the adopter as to that bunny’s complete needs. If the bunny likes kale or hates carrot, if he loves to play ball, if he fears children or likes cats or needs to be carried in a certain way or prefers a particular litter, the fosterer will know and will be able to share the information with the adopter, before adoption. And the fosterer will be able to follow up afterwards, too.

The Bunny Hopline is a list of shelters that rehome these better-than-new bunnies. Please click here for details of your local rabbit rescue.

Mary Ann Maier

Sweetpea & Peanut   cnv00084