Buying Live Rabbits

Buying Live Rabbits – A comprehensive guide to buying rabbits. All your buying/rabbit selection questions will be are covered in this article.

Buying Rabbits

In the old days when rabbits first became popular in this country, breeders would advertise their rabbits for sale by mail order. They would run advertisements in the newspaper offering breeding rabbits — does for 25 cents each and bucks for 50 cents. All you had to do was send a letter with your payment enclosed, and the breeder would ship rabbits your way via freight wagon, stage coach, or steamboat. The amazing thing is that there were a few people who became financially successful breeding and selling live rabbits; in the early 1900′s, a gentleman named Ed Stahl made over a million with his rabbitries.

These days, however, buying live rabbits is a more sensible process. It usually involves finding a breeder you trust, who will help you pick out some quality bunnies from the stock they have for sale. In most cases you will have the opportunity to look at the rabbits – or at least look at photos of them – before you bring them home.


For a Complete Guide to Raising Rabbits we recommend that you Grab a Copy of Raising Rabbits 101 written by Aaron Webster:


Finding a Rabbit Breeder

Choosing the breeder to buy live rabbits from is just as important – if not more so – than selecting the rabbits themselves. Different breeders have different values. Some emphasize commercial traits such as rate of gain or fur quality. Some breed for unique colors. Some try to keep heritage breeds alive. Some select for rabbits that will succeed on the ARBA show circuit. Some focus on personalities and pet-quality traits more than others. Choosing a breeder who has similar goals as you will help ensure your success with their bloodline.

And yes, by the way, it’s a good idea to buy only from one breeder at first. You might think that you should buy a few rabbits from a few different people, but there are several problems with that plan. First, rabbits coming from different backgrounds will have different immunities and levels of hardiness. One rabbit might introduce to the others a bacteria that it is resistant to itself, but the others are not. Also, coming from different genetic strains, they may cause hidden undesirable traits in body type or color to show up when bred together. You’ll have better success if you buy related rabbits from one breeder, and breed them together until you get the hang of rabbit raising. Then if you need to fix a certain trait down the road, you can carefully introduce an outcross.

Probably the best place to find a local breeder that shares your values is the online rabbit breeders directory at This website lists thousands of rabbitries categorized by state and by breed to help you quickly locate rabbit breeders in your area. Your local 4-H leader or extension office may also be able to point you in the right direction.

When you locate a breeder, ask them questions about their stock, their goals, and their management practices. They may or may not invite you over to see their rabbit barn, but they should be willing to answer questions about their breeding techniques. (Some breeders don’t allow visitors to their rabbitries for security purposes. Take that as a positive sign rather than a negative one: it shows that they care about their rabbits’ well-being.) If anything about the breeder’s answers or attitude turns you off, just move on and find someone else. There are many breeders in every state, and it’s worth a little effort to find one you are comfortable with.

Selecting your Rabbits

Rabbit Selection

Once you’ve found a breeder you trust, discuss purchasing animals from him or her. If you are buying live rabbits from a commercial operation for a meat project, the breeder might just pick out a trio for you and call it good, since they know how to select rabbits that will produce well together. But if you are buying rabbits for show purposes, you should take greater care to inspect the individual animals before you agree to buy them.

If you can meet the breeder in person, look over the rabbits for signs of ill-health or disqualifications from competition. Their eyes should be bright; their coats should be soft and glossy and clean. They should not too strongly resist being handled. Always, always check the sex and the teeth yourself, or ask the breeder to show them to you. Sometimes young rabbits can pull their teeth into improper position (correct alignment is with the top incisors overlapping the bottom ones) or seem to “switch sexes” without the breeder knowing about it. If you don’t check these things out yourself before you take the rabbit home, you have no grounds to ask for your money back if you find a problem later. Ask the seller about the rabbit’s breeding history. Ask about the show or production records of the rabbit’s parents and relatives. Ask if the bunnies have ever had health issues. Ask to see their pedigrees.

What price should I pay for live rabbits?

If everything looks good, then you can talk price with the breeder. Usually it’s just best to give the breeder what they ask for their rabbits. If you’ve found high quality rabbits from a breeder that’s willing to help you out, you can usually trust that the price is fair. Offering the breeder less than they asked can be disrespectful if they’ve taken a lot of time to show the rabbits to you. You can, however, ask if they offer a quantity discount if you’re buying a trio of rabbits at a time.

The usual price for live rabbits totally depends on the breed and who you buy from. Pet rabbits usually run $25 to $50. Breeding stock for meat usually costs from $10 to $50 per animal, or perhaps a little more for a high quality herd buck. Show rabbits are usually more expensive. A good purebred rabbit usually costs at least $35 for breeders and $50 for show stock. They can cost up to $200 each in some breeds. However, don’t pay $200 for a rabbit unless you are absolutely sure you are buying from one of the nation’s top breeders (as proven by show records and the reputation they have with the showing community). You can usually get a very good start in high-quality show rabbits for around $75 each.

Don’t do it alone

It takes time to learn how to do anything – even how to buy good live rabbits. The best way to ensure that you won’t get burned the first time you do it is to bring a friend along who has raised rabbits for years. If you don’t know anyone like this, join a 4-H club or a local ARBA club, or visit a rabbit show. People are usually happy to help you out.


For a Complete Guide to Raising Rabbits we recommend that you Grab a Copy of Raising Rabbits 101 written by Aaron Webster:


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