Raising rabbits | Living the Country Life

Raising rabbits

You may not want them eating your garden, but rabbits can make perfect pets. Learn how to care for them on your acreage.
Rabbits are great for teaching children responsibility. With supervision, kids can learn to feed the rabbits and to clean out their cages.

When it comes to personality, rabbits can be as different as people. That's one of the reasons rabbit owners like Jim Miller of Hancock, Wisconsin, enjoy raising them as pets. Miller, who serves as a director for the American Rabbit Breeders Association, has been raising rabbits for more than 25 years. "There's just a lot of individuality and interest with rabbits," he says. "The more you have them, the more you realize how much diversity there is in them."

Before you purchase rabbits of your own, do some research to find out what breed will work best for you. Rabbit shows are a great starting point because you can meet many breeders in the area and see the rabbits for yourself. "Go to the source, because you'll have a much better chance of getting a good animal and one that will meet your needs," Miller says.

Make a home

One of the most important considerations is where you will house your pets. Rabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors. Outdoor rabbits should have shelters that will protect them from the wind to prevent respiratory problems, Miller says.

Laura Peters, who raises rabbits at Back Forty Rabbitry in Medford, Wisconsin, says owners also need to monitor their outdoor rabbits carefully.

"They're a little sensitive to the heat, so I put in some ice water bottles sometimes in the summer," she says. "They like to lay by them and keep cool."

Owners often choose to keep their rabbits in wire cages. The wires should be no more than 1/2-inch apart, and the supporting wires underneath should be no more than 1 inch apart, Miller says. This helps support the rabbits' feet. The recommended cage size varies by breed.

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