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.
Out and about
You can housebreak your rabbits so they can be let out of their cages inside the house, Miller says. If you let your rabbits out, however, you will need to constantly supervise them to keep them from getting hurt or from chewing on items in your home.
"The big problem with letting rabbits loose is that they love to chew, and they especially love to chew electric cords," he says.
Miller feeds his rabbits commercial pellets. The key is to find high-quality feed that contains enough nutrients but not too much fat content. Peters, who also uses commercial rabbit pellets, says she occasionally supplements her rabbits' diet with apples and carrots as treats.
With the exception of the long-haired breeds, most rabbits require little grooming, Peters says. You will need to trim your rabbits' nails every few months. Dog nail clippers, which you can buy at pet supply stores, are perfect for the task.
As is the case with any pets, owning rabbits is a commitment. On average, rabbits tend to live six to eight years, Miller says. For more information about raising rabbits, visit www.arba.net.
You might like...
Add Your Comment
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login