I was originally going to write “questions questions, let me answer your questions” a couple of weeks ago. But decided Quarantine better fit the letter q. So today for U I am undertaking the questions you have about rabbits. 🙂 Some of the questions asked could be a whole blog post in and of themselves… so watch out… I might just keep writing about rabbits when this alphabet series is done! 🙂
Where Should Rabbits Be Kept?
In a quick nutshell… rabbits should be kept in a place where
- they are protected from the weather.
- they can be fed and watered easily.
- predators can not get at them
Indoors or outdoors it doesn’t matter as long as those criteria are met. Different temperatures and predators around the world affect how rabbits are kept. For instance, here in Ontario I don’t have to worry about fire ants. Further south, protecting rabbits from these tiny predators is highly important. Temperature, cold wind, domestic threats like dogs & cats, wild predators such as fox, coyote, weasel, ants, and snakes, along with unkind/thoughtless people, these are all things to protect rabbits from.
What breed is Easiest for Families with Children?
Doesn’t matter the breed so much as it matters about the bunny. Bunny temperament means far more than bunny breed. I’ve seen children delighted with a 20 lb flemish giant who was a gentle as a lamb, and children scared of a 2 lb netherland dwarf. Regardless of the breed rabbits can be easy going or … not. You don’t want the not.. so you need to ask the breeder what they look for in a rabbits temperament. Some breeders don’t care, others do. Asking good questions and actually LISTENING to the person you are buying from is best.
Time and again people only look at colour and rarely ask about personality. This weekend I sold two bunnies, she had a choice of four. She told me she wanted a calm. easy-going bunny, so I steered her toward the calmest, quietest, easiest handling baby. One who never got alarmed by anything. She went with my troublemaker. Troublemaker had an eye-catching colour and so went home with a girl, who let her emotions rule her purchase.
What breed is hardest for a novice?
This is a hard one to answer. So much depends on the novice. There are breeds that as a whole are easier, and breeds that as a whole tend to be more difficult. For instance I have no hesitation recommending holland lops. Great rabbits.. though I’ve owned a couple that deserved to be fed to another animal. Dutch, mini rex, polish, harlequin, most meat type buns make excellent first time bunnies as well. I used to raise Harlequin breed rabbits… sweetest rabbits EVER.
My son was really interested in Britannia Petite that he saw at a show but the breeder said NO, I don’t sell these to anyone under 16 years of age. They bite as naturally as breathing. Not the bunny for a novice. Three shows later she introduced me to ONE (out of the several she had) that didn’t nip. She said “he’s rock solid”. Lovely, lovely rabbit even if he would bounce out of her hands easily. Others that I would hesitate at would be mini satins, English spots, and Belgian hares. Overall they have less than stellar reputations, but you do find gems.
Which breeds of rabbits are best to raise for meat?
Before deciding on what breed you want for a meat rabbit you need to consider how much rabbit meat do you want?
Do you eat a lot of rabbit meat? Do you want to handle a 10-15 lb rabbit? Where more rabbits are culled for meat at around 5 lbs, their parents will be significantly larger. Are you able to handle a large rabbit? Rabbits such as New Zealand, Californian, Argente Brun, American Chinchilla, Silver fox and so forth would be breeds you would be looking for.
But perhaps you just want enough rabbit for one or two people, or you don’t want to handle a large rabbit but would rather have a smaller breed. Rabbit like dutch, mini rex, florida white, mini satin, harlequin etc would suit you better.
Meat rabbits range in size and weight from 5 – 15 lbs adult weight. What you purchase depends on how much meat you want from your rabbit and what size rabbit you are able to handle.
Either way, look for rabbits where the parents look like a half basketball set against a table. A nice smooth arch from head to tail when looking at the rabbit from the side. When looking down from the top the rabbit should be built like a brick. Avoid thin, racy, or lean rabbits. You want a nice chunky rabbit that will give you a good meal or two.
All in all though… work with what you can find and work your way up. Purchase new stock as you find better. Keep the best and eat the rest is the standard by which meat breeders live by. All rabbits will give you meat, the amount varies by the rabbit type. Rabbits built like a brick will give you more meat than rabbits that aren’t.
More ARBA recognized rabbit breeds.
What types of enrichment (toys) do bunnies like or need?
Toys, the best toys in my opinion are the ones you find for free! 🙂
Unpainted wicker baskets, golf balls, canning rings, cereal boxes, pits of dirt to dig in, cardboard box houses, and toys that make them think … picture lettuce leaves hung by clothes pins that they need to pick off.
Bunnies are odd… they might find a cat toy that is THEIR’s and they won’t share, or they could like nothing other than hopping around getting into mischief. I’ve known bunnies who have a wicker carrot they carry around, but any other wicker thing they demolish. Go figure?
Just make sure if you give them something to play with it is too small to get their head inside or so big they can get their entire body through easily.
Can you keep rabbits if you have a dander/pet allergy?
Allergies that I have run into as a breeder.
- Cats… you are likely to be allergic to rabbits. THOUGH I have twice sold rabbits now to people allergic to cats/rabbits that were able to keep rabbits from my herd. Why? Haven’t a clue.
- Hay. Don’t feed it. Purchase a pelleted hay (less dust) and if you want to give your rabbits another fibre source look into apple branches, black oil sunflower seeds, etc. But really… A GOOD pellet will give all the fibre your rabbit needs.
- Bedding. Switch to a different cage style were you don’t need bedding, or figure out a different type of bedding. If you can’t do pine, consider paper bedding, peat moss, puppy pads, straw or hay, maybe even aspen? Some people use newspaper bedding. You’d need to do your research to discover what works best. Do not use cat litter.
- Contact. It’s odd. I’ve sold three rabbits over the years to people who couldn’t touch their rabbit but enjoyed having a rabbit around. They used gloves and long sleeves to take the rabbit to groomers for nail trims or the vet for care. But otherwise managed to care for their rabbit without ever touching it.
Are there any reusable bedding options?
Not that I know of. There are several that compost easily and there are ways to limit the amount of bedding you use.
What kind of treats from your garden/fridge can you give your pet rabbit?
From your fridge: almost anything in moderation as long as it’s a vegetable. Some basics for you: No onions. Be careful with plants from the cabbage family as some rabbits will bloat. Limit carrots and other sweet vegetables. Push the dark greens, the leafy part of carrots, herbs, strawberry hulls etc. Don’t feed any nuts or fruit that comes with a nut in the centre.
Now, I have to say this.. I am not familiar with every vegetable, weed or fruit around. Do your research, there are safe rabbit food lists all around the web. There are weed identification sites for provinces and states. I’ve seen people feed things to rabbits I wouldn’t have thought of, OR been able to get my rabbits to eat, so there must be regional variations.
Others in This Series
- American Fuzzy Lop.
- Baby Bunnies.
- Culling well.
- Discussing Death.
- Errors in Judgement.
- Feeding Rabbits.
- The G’s of rabbits.
- Holland Lops.
- Interesting facts about rabbits.
- The Joy of Bunnies.
- Choosing Rabbits to Keep.
- Leaping Lagomorphs.
- The Scoop on Poop.
- Not Wanted Rabbits.
- Over the Hill.
- Educating Pet Rabbit Buyers.
- Rescues and Breeders.
- Shelving Babies.
- Travelling with Rabbits.
- U asked.
Letter U Link Up
Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.