Rabbit Starter Guide
Before you get a Rabbit[edit | edit source]
Before you get a rabbit. First research what type of rabbit is going to best fit your lifestyle. Are you looking for a pet? Are you wanting to raise an animal for food? Do you want to get into Showing rabbits? Or a combination of these?
Pet Rabbits[edit | edit source]
If you are looking for a pet, does your living arrangement and county ordnance allow rabbits?
Rabbits are typically a quiet pet , that don't take up too much space and tend to be lo-odor with regular maintenance. Rabbits are not easy pets to look after,their needs are all met. There are some breed specific maintenance that you should keep in mind when selecting a breed for you.
First what size rabbit are you looking for? Rabbits range in size from 2 lbs full grown up to 25+lbs. So figuring out what Breed is important when planning your Setup, and factoring Costs of Feed and Time.
Why are you talking on pet rabbits when you don’t own pets? Make it make sense 😂
Show Rabbits[edit | edit source]
If you Plan to Show or Breed at all, I highly recommend Joining ARBA, and your Breed Club.
Selecting Show Rabbits[edit | edit source]
Just like selecting a pet you will want to research the Breeds to see which one will fit with your Showing Goals. To clear things up right off the bat, to show a rabbit all you need is a rabbit that meets the Standard of Perfection for the breed you are showing in, and Have no disqualifying features. Pedigree does not guarantee you are getting a quality showable Rabbit. You may find a Winning Show Rabbit off of Craigslist or from a 4Her at the county fair, or you could end up with a complete Dud that has a stellar Pedigree going back generations that is a DQ because it has a wrong colored toenail. When Selecting any Show prospect, take an experienced Breeder or mentor with you, or find a mentor that will walk you through the selection process and explain the good and bad points of each rabbit you look at. Many Rabbits are "Parts" Rabbits, but you will want to choose at least a Rabbit that is a good example of your chosen breed and has no DQ to start showing with.
Registered Rabbits[edit | edit source]
ARBA does NOT require a rabbit be registered to Show. ARBA rabbits are NOT registered from birth like many other species. In order to register your rabbits or cavies, you must be a member of the ARBA. The rabbit or cavy must be at least 6 months of age, and you must have a 3 generation pedigree for the animal being registered. The pedigree must show the name and/or ear number, weight, and variety of the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (3 generations) of the animal being registered. (All ancestors in the 3 generations MUST be of the same breed as the animal being registered.) A licensed Registrar for the species must examine the animal and fill out an application for registration, which is sent to the ARBA office. The information for the registered animal is then entered into the computer system which will create a record of that animal for all time. A certificate of registration for the animal is then sent to the owner. ARBA: How do I register my rabbit or cavy?
Pedigree or non-pedigree[edit | edit source]
ARBA does NOT require a Pedigree to Show. A Pedigree is just a record of ancestors, even my meat mutts are pedigreed. Pedigrees at their most simple use are a tool to track ancestry and for informed breeding choices when choosing crosses. A complete Pedigree will include the Animals Breed, Variety, Tatoo, and Sr Weight, on all rabbits going back at least three generations. A pedigree does not guarantee quality.
Meat Rabbits[edit | edit source]
If you want to start raising Rabbits for meat, I highly suggest choosing base stock from a commercial breed of rabbit or mixes of commercial type breeds. New Zealand of the White Variety, Rex, Californian and combinations of these breeds are very popular meat breeds. you also have many breeds to choose from in the livestock conservatory you many want to consider raising to keep the breed from extinction. When Selecting your initial meat stock it is a good idea to select locally if possible from rabbit that are already familiar with your climate. you may also want to ask lots of questions about growth rate and size. Selecting meat breeders from show stock is not always a good idea, as many commercial show lines have focused on other traits in their rabbits, and you may find that they haven't been selecting for good growth rates. Ideally you want a line that comes as close to 5lbs by 10 weeks as possible for your best return on investment.
If selecting meat mutts off craigslist, be sure you really get your hands on the rabbits feel them , they should have good flesh condition, weight at least 4lb by 8wks old, be free from parasites, and illness. check the quality of the rear feet, they should of thick wide well furred feet, straight legs, and a good wide base. avoid any evidence of pinched hips, or hollowness of loin.
Environment[edit | edit source]
If you plan to keep your Rabbits outside, make sure they have a secured enclosure out of the wind and rain that can be kept cool. Rabbits tolerate freezing temperatures better then they tolerate Heat. Rabbits over heat easily, when temperatures get above 80 degrees Fans, Ice bottles, cool ceramic tiles, and extra water should be offered. If you are selecting for Heat Hardy meat rabbits, the TAMUK New Zealand Whites and the TAMUK Composites are two experimental lines of commercial meat rabbits that were specifically bred for heat tolerance.
Keeping Rabbits in the cold and over winter. Stuff hides with extra soft hay or straw, purchase heated water bottles, or frequently visit your rabbits to break ice and fill water bowls with warm water. Make sure you put up wind breaks and close up drafts to protect your rabbits from wind and wet.
Also keep in mind sudden drastic changes in temperatures will kill Rabbits. So bringing them directly into Air-conditioning or heat on a hot or freezing day if they aren't in the middle of a heat emergency can shock them. It's better to bring them into a cooler porch, attached garage, or unheated room. In the winter when we had a nasty sudden cold snap around kitting time I brought my Does and their new borns into an unheated bathroom. and then wait to bring them back outside until you get a day that the temperatures is stable between the inside and outside. When I move my bucks back outside for the fall, I turn off the AC, I open all the windows in my house to get them reacclimated to outside temps before returning them to the barn.
Housing[edit | edit source]
Housing will need to be modified depending on your chosen breed. You have several options for Rabbit Housing an Enclosures. Metal Wire Cages are the most popular because they are sanitary, allow for a safe space for your rabbit, and have excellent airflow. Properly gauged wire floors also allow rabbits nails to sink in and prevent many foot problems associated with hard surfaces and carpeted floors. Hutches are still popular in many places. for indoor set ups it's best to have a 24 x 24 in wire cage as a base for your Rabbit, with a X-pen set up to keep them confined to a rabbit safe area. Unsupervised Free Roaming is NOT recommended as rabbits show higher cortisol levels when they do not have a " burrow" or cage to retreat too.
Feeding[edit | edit source]
A single 10lb rabbit goes through approx one 50lb bag of high quality pelleted feed every 2 months. Smaller breeds will consume on average one 50lb bag of feed in 4 months. a bag of feed should be stored in a cool dark dry place and finished with in 6 months from bagging date to ensure best quality. This should help you calculate your feed costs. there is a more detailed feeding guide here
Enrichment[edit | edit source]
even cage rabbits should have some toys. ours get basic toys to play with. Each has their own preference. you can use Cardboard tubes stuffed with hay, fencepost insulators, baby toys, untreated non-painted wooden blocks, alfalfa or timothy Horse Cubes.
Health Check[edit | edit source]
Before you get a rabbit, you should familiarize yourself with standard health checking procedures. when you are playing with your rabbit, keep and eye on it. study it. you will want to daily get a general lookover to make sure there are no abnormalities. a quick through exam will let you know how your rabbit is doing. a typical exam consists of getting your hands on your rabbit running your hand over the body, and feeling for any bumps, cuts, or abnormalities. look at your rabbits eyes and nose check for any mucus or discharge, roll your rabbit on it's back check each of it's toes, taking note of any overly long, or missing toenails, this is a great time to give a quick trim. Check your rabbits teeth to make sure they are still even and wearing correctly, uneven teeth or injuries need to be noted. Check the ears look down in them for any redness or scabs. Video on Proper handling links here.
Emergency Plan[edit | edit source]
Have enough Carrier to move al your rabbits and a plan for transport in case of a hurricane or other disaster. Train your rabbits to be calm in a carrier.