Category Archives: Caring For Rabbits

Raising Pet Rabbits – A comprehensive article on the subject of raising and caring for pet rabbits. Pet rabbit tips, tricks, techniques and more…

Article by Gabriel Billones

Pet Rabbits

Rabbits are some of the most adorable pets all over the world. They are cute, cuddly, fluffy and soft. We just love watching them move, chase after one another and stay just as they are. All of these reasons make us fall in love with rabbits and want to pet them.

In America, rabbits are often ranked in the top five of the most favored animals for pets. This is why if you are planning to raise rabbits and sell them for pets, you surely have a market to sell your rabbits to. More than that, raising rabbits is just so rewarding and it keeps you busy, thus making it a very interesting hobby. It’s like combining business with fun. The good thing about rabbits is they are very interactive and social. You can develop an intimate relationship with your rabbits, let alone give them names.

Identifying the Best Rabbits for Pets

It’s important to know what hits the market well in terms of choosing their rabbit pets because domestic rabbits come in different sizes, shapes and color combinations. And we can pretty well agree that customers really prefer some breeds to others. To start with, it’s ideal to have rabbits that weigh less than 5 pounds when they are already full-grown. The idea behind this is that when these dwarf bunnies grow old and are ready to be sold, customers can just carry them in their hand, which adds up to their overall appeal.

Here’s the catch. When you sell baby bunnies that tend to grow to more than a 10-pound New Zealand rabbit when they are fully grown, you’re not really leaving a good impression to the buyers. Of course, they would want their bunnies to remain as they are in sizes because of other reasons such as caging, feeding necessities and other adjustments that will have to be done if the rabbit grows in size.

Now, let’s go to color, which is one of the most important factors for consideration in the selection of pets. Most customers prefer the so-called ‘broken colored’ rabbits, which are spotted in nature. Next to spotted rabbits, any color that are bright and attractive at the same time, attract the customers.

The rabbits that you raise for pets should ideally have coats of normal length. Despite the fact that some rabbit breeds have long hairs or wool such as the Jersey Wooly or Lionhead, which are being preferred by some buyers who find it attractive, these coating can become matted quickly most especially without proper care coming from the owners.

Some of excellent choices to raise are Dutch and Holland Lop because they are small, short-furred and also have good temperaments. And even though mixed rabbits may sell just as well as purebred rabbits, most of rabbit owners prefer purebreds that they bring to shows at a later point in time.

Rabbit Equipment Necessities

For the equipment, you will need at least 10 cages. Both of the original male and female rabbit must have their own cage. The cages should be suitable and designed to cater to the needs of the baby rabbits.

At about 6 weeks of age, male rabbits should already be separated from their mother. Female babies, on the other hand, are separated at 8 weeks of age. Babies will be a lot healthier when they have their own cages since they won’t have to compete with their littermates. Back-up cages should also be built just in case your baby bunnies are not sold instantly.

Other than the housing, which of course is the most important equipment, all the other tools can then follow. These are the feeders, water bottles, crocks, resting mats and waste removal system. You can also have a nesting box for the doe, which others deem as essential. For their food, you can feed them with good quality rabbit pellets, with a constant supply of hay and water.

I purchase my cages via http://PremiumRabbits.com/ , the leading online rabbit supply store offering top quality rabbit equipment at affordable prices.

Rabbit Equipment for Sale

Training the Pet Rabbits

Rabbits are innately social. But there still is a need to train them to be well-socialized before they will go their new homes. Then again, this is contingent to their being territorial that drives them to own and get used to where they grew. If you have placed your cages inside your home, you are enabling them to get accustomed to people, let alone to other pets that you have such as dogs and cats. Though a safe barn and rabbit hutch outside the house could also be a good option, you need to have a close watch to the baby bunnies because they need to be handled every single day from the moment they go out of their nest boxes.

In order to train them, you can start by handling them in different positions. For example, you may turn them upside down for a routine until they get comfortable to it. But turning them upside down regularly is really done, not just for the routine, but also for health purposes. And when you check their toenails, you will also have to turn them upside down.

Make sure that they are used to noises, as well as children. Children are the most fond of rabbits. For rabbit sellers and owners who do this trick, sometimes they bring radio to the barn to make the rabbits accustomed to the noise. Getting them used to a litterbox would also be a great option, although not necessary.

The Pet Rabbit Market

Even though bunny breeding is inexpensive, getting buyers for your rabbits can be difficult at times. And it’s really dependent on season and area. For example, the highest peak for selling rabbits is achieved during Christmas and Easter season. In these instances, your role as a rabbit seller is very crucial because you have to filter your selling to people who can become responsible pet owners, and not just those who casually wanted to buy rabbits as seasonal decorations.

Now, there’s one important key to remember in selling rabbits, which is exposure. This is important because people only buy rabbits if they know you’re selling rabbits, or if you have a reputation out from it. This is why it’s important to have exposure in different media channels. Probably, your first option could be the local newspaper. But this is expensive medium. The best exposure you can have is in a popular listings website where you can advertise the rabbit breeds that you are selling. These websites become the selling point to where rabbit enthusiasts, buyers and sellers meet.

I am a member of a really cool system titled “Sell Rabbits On Demand” which enables me to easily post rabbit for sale classifieds on RabbitBreeders.us and various other high traffic rabbit websites. Using this program I have been able to pretty easily sell lots of pet rabbits. You can learn more about joining this program via: http://SellRabbitsOnDemand.com/ . Its really cheap, compared to the value that you get. I recommend that every rabbit raiser join.

A good bet on pricing is $30 to $50, though some rabbit owners tend to sell them at $100 to $200. It’s all about striking a balance between your supply of rabbits and the current demand. For some people, $30 is still a bit high. But we tell you that it’s more than just the money. You can get potential returns for your investment, as well as emotional rewards for the relationship you have established with your bunnies.

So what are you waiting for? Take the opportunity now to learn how to raise pet rabbits.

Recommended Readings:

Read the following books to get started with your rabbit adventure and or accelerate your success…

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Raising Rabbits 101 by Aaron Webster

Raising Rabbits

Description: A comprehensive guide to breeding and caring for rabbits. Highly acclaimed and now in its third edition.

Hoppy Pet Rabbit Guide

Description: A very useful guide on the subject of raising and caring for pet rabbits. Written by author Aaron Webster and highly recommended. Great companion book to Raising Rabbits 101.

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Female Rabbit

Can two female rabbits live in the same cage?

This is one of the most common questions for someone wanting to buy a second rabbit, but not a second cage. It seems like an attractive option to save money, and get a friend for your lonely bunny. But many rabbit owners learn the hard way that it isn’t so simple.

Two female rabbits will fight.

Although may expect two males to fight, you may not realize females can be just as bad. When going to a pet store or breeder’s rabbitry, you may notice several animals in the same cage. What you may not realize is these friends consist of either a mom and her babies, or two rabbits who haven’t yet reached sexual maturity. The hormones of a female rabbit, once mature, will cause her to be more aggressive. She may lash out at the handler, and the other rabbit. She could even kill her if she’s trying to protect “her” territory. You might be able to solve this with a couple of spay surgeries – but that would run about $150. That’s a lot more than the cost of the second cage.

Rabbits will compete.

So, let’s say you had them spayed. Although not a complete suppressant of the hormones, it will calm them down some. They may not fight, but you still might have one die of starvation or obesity. You may think “Well, I gave them more than enough for both of them!” The problem is now that one ate more than her “fair share,” she is overweight, and the other is starving. Obesity can be just as bad as starvation because it can cause breathing issues that can develop into pneumonia, and dermatitis on the skin.

Hint: Check out the “Supreme Rabbit Home” line of cages that come standard with all the trimmings: drop trays, door protectors, urine guards, and high caliber construction.

Two rabbits in the same cage can share diseases

When two rabbits share a cage, if one gets sick, it’s likely the other will also. Two rabbits in one cage means that the cage gets dirtier faster.  And a dirty cage is a breeding place for disease.  For example, the coccidian parasite is only infectious once it’s lived in feces that have been exposed to air for a day or two – and if you have two rabbits making a mess in the cage, there’s more exposure.

You might think, “Well, I just won’t let my rabbits get sick.”  But sometimes, despite your best precautions, things happen.  For example, parasites such as pin worms or fungal infections such as ringworm can be brought in on your skin, clothes, and pets, and rabbits can easily catch it. Then once one has it, they both do. Now instead of one vet bill, you have two.

But how do I solve my rabbit’s loneliness?

The good news is you don’t have to solve your rabbit’s loneness, because rabbits don’t get lonely.  In the wild rabbits are more solitary creatures than pack animals.  If you spend time with your rabbit daily, that will provide enough interaction to keep it happy and occupied.

So will my female rabbit benefit from a companion?

Possibly.  Although rabbits do not need another bunny around, they do seem to enjoy having another rabbit in the area.  “In the area” means in the same room – but NOT in the same cage.  Rabbits strongly prefer having their own personal space, but do like to have another bunny near enough to communicate with through scent and sound.

So what’s the solution?

Go ahead and get two rabbits, if you’d like.  But make sure to also get two cages.  There have been cases in which female rabbits lived in one cage together successfully, but those are rar – and many people find this out the hard way.  Thankfully, if you don’t want the expense of buying two separate cages, you can buy a “double-hole” cage for two rabbits. This cage allows both does to have their own personal space, while still being close enough to make friends.  A double-hole cage not only costs less than two single cages, but it also takes up less space. Plus there is only one drop tray to empty, which is something nobody can complain about.

Recommended Readings:

Raising Rabbits 101 3rd Edition: http://www.premiumrabbits.com/raising-rabbits-101-3rd-edition/

The “Hoppy” Pet Rabbit Care Guide: http://www.premiumrabbits.com/hoppy-pet-rabbit-guide/

 


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Rabbit Supplies

Every rabbit, regardless of breed, will require a cage. A new breeder may be overwhelmed with how big, and what kind to get. To find out the perfect cage size, you can use a size chart. Now the next question: What kind? There are many plastic pet store brands, or home made wooden hutches. The problem with these is rabbits can chew through plastic and wood over time, and the wooden ones will absorb urine and warp causing a dirty, smelly and unhealthy home. Cages with solid floors will cause irritation from splash back, and you will have a urine stains on the rabbits pelt. A wire cage with a wire floor is ideal for keeping a clean rabbit. They are available in small, medium, large, and giant sizes that are ideal for almost any breed.

The Best Food and Water Equipment

Inside that cage, you will need food and water containers. Rabbits tend to chew their food dishes which can cause abscesses on their neck and chin. In addition, it is a pain to replace the chewed dishes. Metal food dishes are great because they are still inexpensive, and you don’t have to replace them as often. They are available in 5oz and 12oz sizes. Also, you have a choice to use a cup or bottle as a water container. Bottles can be a healthy choice for rabbits because they can’t dip their feet in the bowl. That is, of course, only healthier if it is kept clean. Many different brands of bottles only open in a narrow top which can be a pain to clean. However, the Lixit Flip Top water bottle makes cleaning and filling easy, and is equipped with a no drip spout.

Safe Rabbit Carrying Cages

In order to safely transport you rabbits, it is important to have carrying cages. Rabbit carriers should be wire like their cage in order to maintain cleanliness. The size required will depend on the size of the breed. A carrier too big will allow the rabbit to spook and injure itself; however, you want it big enough to allow the rabbit to lie down. It is recommended to have enough carriers to safely evacuate all of your rabbits in case of an emergency.

Supplies for your Rabbit First Aid Kit

Another necessity would be a first aid kit. It should contain nail clippers, Quick Stop, Syringe/Medicine Dropper, Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment, Vaseline, Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Q-tips, baby wipes, and hemostats. These are general, multi-purpose equipment and remedies for any accidents away from home. It is not a substitute for medical attention, though, so if you don’t see a quick recovery, take them to the vet.

Tattoo Equipment for Rabbit Showmen

Tattoo equipment is a must for anybody who is interested in breeding. Even if they are intended for brood or pet, it is good to be able to identify them and avoid mix ups. You can choose either a clamp or pen. A clamp is preferred for large breeds; however they have a limited number of digits and are very expensive. Pens are the preferred method for smaller breeds or breeders who have a preference for longer tattoos. In addition to the tattoo pen or clamp, it is important to have baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, ink, cleaning equipment, and petroleum jelly. KBtatts offers a complete, including most of the materials listed above, and more for a very competitive price.

Important Grooming Supplies for Show Rabbits

Grooming supplies are important to any show breeder. With the exception of rex furred breeds, you will need a comb, slicker brush, and baby wipes to keep the fur in top shape. For rex fur, you would use a pumice stone. Also, keep nail clippers on hand at all times as well. You never know when you are looking over a rabbit before putting it on the show table and it was missed when clipping nails. Another piece of show equipment is a show table. This is a great investment because it provides buyers a surface to look at a rabbit, and you a surface to groom your rabbit. It is also important to know what not keep in your grooming supplies. The use of tweezers, scissors, powders, or other materials that alter the natural appearance of the rabbit is against the rules.

Producing Pedigrees for your Rabbits

Building a pedigree is one of the most important parts to raising rabbits. Pedigrees are not only the selling point to many buyers, but they also help track weights, varieties, and lineage. Using the Easy Rabbit Pedigree Generator, you can create a pedigrees within minutes. It will also store information, so you can have both a hard copy and an electronic copy of all your pedigrees.  Additionally if you’re looking for a pedigree that will wow your customers, grab a custom pedigree design.

Recommended Rabbit Pedigree Software:

http://rabbitbreeders.us/newsletter/rabbit-pedigree-software/

Information is Invaluable

And lastly, it is important to keep literature you can refer to when questions arise. One of the most common questions is: Where did THAT variety come from? Fortunately, there is The Rabbit Coat Color Genetics Guide to answer that question. It will also arm you with the ability to predict the possible outcomes and warn you to shy from breeding together certain varieties. Another great book, celebrated for its comprehensive approach, is Raising Rabbits 101.  It gives you tips and tricks on improving the overall health and quality of your herd.

Recommended Readings:

Raising Rabbits 101 3rd Edition: http://www.premiumrabbits.com/raising-rabbits-101-3rd-edition/

The Rabbit Coat Color Genetics Guide: http://www.premiumrabbits.com/the-rabbit-coat-colors-genetics-guide/

Credits: Rachel Taylor contributed to this article.


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The study of coat color genetics has taken the rabbit world by a storm.  Breeders remain extremely interested in this important subject.  Not only do you need to know color genetics to be able to choose your breeding pairs wisely, but the study is fascinating in itself.  Here five fun facts that you might not have heard before about an important rabbit color.

Fact 1. The color we call “chestnut agouti” is the original rabbit color.  It shows the “normal” gene in every category.  As you may notice, wild rabbits appear chestnut agouti.

Fact 2. Every other color results from a mutation of one of the genes that makes chestnut agouti.  A mutation happens when some genetic information is lost in the process of transferring a gene from a parent to its offspring.  As a result, almost all other colors are less dominant than chestnut agouti.  If you breed a pure chestnut agouti to almost any other color, the resulting babies will be 100% chestnut agouti.

Fact 3. Chestnut agouti shows a beautiful blend of pigments.  If you look at a chestnut, you’ll see a brilliant blend of black and red pigments.  The top of the rabbit looks brindled with the two colors, and if you blow into the coat, you’ll see black and red/orange form concentric rings on the hair shaft.  All recessive mutations of the chestnut genes limit this pattern, either by reducing the color intensity (so the black hairs would become blue or chocolate) or by preventing the two pigments from interacting properly.  (For example, a solid black rabbit has the potential to produce red pigments, but it doesn’t because the self pattern gene isn’t giving the red pigment a place to show up.)

Fact 4. Chestnut shows the normal dominant gene in every main category.  So a pure chestnut – one that didn’t carry any other colors – would have the genotype AA BB CC DD EE.  A rabbit that had the most recessive gene in every category – the genotype aa bb cc dd ee –  would be albino.  Another highly recessive color is lilac tortoise – the genotype aa bb CC dd ee.

Fact 5. There are a couple mutations that produce a color pattern that’s actually more dominant than AA BB CC DD EE.  These are in the “E” series, and the names of them are Steel and Dominant Black.  The steel gene will cause the black pigment to over-produce, so it covers up some of the orange pigment in a chestnut, and only lets the light tips of the hairs show.  You can see that illustrated in the picture below.

Bonus fact:  If you enjoyed this article, you can learn more about rabbit color genetics through the book, “About Bunny Colors” from Rabbit Smarties Publishers.  This guide is written in simple language (no, it really is!) so that any rabbit breeder can quickly learn how to use color genetics in their breeding.  It incorporates advice from many rabbit raising experts, including ARBA judges and national-winning breeders.

Recommended Reading:

Rabbit Color Genetics

The Rabbit Coat Colors Genetics Guide by Ellyn Eddy:
http://www.premiumrabbits.com/the-rabbit-coat-colors-genetics-guide/


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Rabbit Care in the Winter – Seven Important Tips for Caring for Rabbits in the Winter.

Winter Rabbit Care

Rabbits are amazingly hardy.  Different rabbit species can live the most varied of the world’s climates, be it the desert, the mountains, the swamps, or the bitter cold.  The rabbits we keep as pets descended from the wild rabbit of Europe.   Thus, pet rabbits are built to be able to live outside in the winter – even in sub-freezing temperatures – as long as you provide the right care.

In fact, I write this from my home in northern Michigan.  It’s December, and there are sixteen inches of snow on the ground outside.  The thermometer hasn’t touched above 32*F in two or three weeks, and yet the bunnies outside are doing fine.  All your rabbits need in the winter is a little extra attention.  So, based on my experience, here are my top tips for winter rabbit care:

1. Make sure your rabbits have water around the clock.  This is the number one rabbit care tip any time of year, but it’s especially important in times of weather extremes.  If deprived of water, rabbits will not eat.  If they do not eat frequently, their digestive system – used to digesting high fiber foods slowly but steadily – will become static.  This can morph into a serious problem very quickly.  Besides, if a rabbit drinks lots of water, its coat will become extra soft and shiny.  True story!

2. Use the right watering equipment.  This is essential to accomplishing point #1.  Water bottles do not work well in freezing temps.  (Freeze = expand = crack…pretty obvious.)  The spout on a water bottle will freeze first, which means that even though the water in the bottle might still be liquid, the rabbit cannot access it through the frozen spout.  Instead of bottles, use hard plastic or stoneware crocks.  Hard plastic is better, because it won’t crack as easily when dropped.  (And trust me, when your hands are numb from the cold, you do drop crocks.)

3. Have two water dishes for each rabbit.  Not two dishes in the cage at once, but one in the cage while the other is in the house thawing.  When I go out to water the rabbits, I remove their frozen water dishes (usually containing a semi-solid ice cube) and throw them in a five-gallon pail.  Then I replace it with a fresh dish of water, and take the bucket of frozen dishes in the house to thaw.  Next time I go out, I can make the swap again.  My water crock of choice is the EZ-crock, because I’ve tossed dozens of frozen EZ-crocks into a bucket, one on top of another, and never had one crack yet.  Besides, the rabbits can’t spill them, which is an obvious bonus.

4. Full-feed in the winter.  Moving on from water, let’s talk feed.  To “full-feed” your rabbit means to give it enough pellets that it will have some left over every time you come to do chores.  I’m usually very wary of recommending this.  Rabbits will not gorge themselves to death if given the chance, but they usually do put on some excess weight if they are full-fed.  However, when the daily high temperature is 20*F or less for weeks at time, rabbits burn so much energy keeping warm that I think full-feeding is warranted.

5. Don’t use electronic heating devices.  I understand wanting to help your bunnies stay warm.  I understand touching their ears with your fingertips and bemoaning that they feel like ice.  But I also understand that it’s better for a rabbit to be chilly than to be roasted alive.  Do NOT use electronic heating devices such as warming pads, heated dishes, or heat lamps.  Rabbits can outside in freezing temperatures all winter and be just fine.  The wild rabbits do it; they don’t hibernate like the bears and chipmunks.  Anytime you use electronic devices outside in the weather, they are at risk of shorting and catching fire.  Rabbits will chew on every electrical cord they can find.   Even if the heating device is outside the cage, close proximity to straw or wood shavings in the cage can quickly cause fire.   Trust me: we used heating pads with our first rabbits, and though we were very careful to protect the cords and electrical connections, they caught fire.  We barely had time to rescue our bunnies.

6. Don’t cut off the ventilation.  Bunnies that don’t live in an environment with good airflow are susceptible to snuffles and other respiratory problems.  In the winter we batten down the hatches in an attempt to keep heat in and drafts out, and while this is good, make sure you still allow plenty of airflow.

7. Observe your rabbits often.  Look at them.  Watch them eating or playing.  Take them out and run your hand down their coats.  Turn them over and check for signs of illness.  You can usually tell if a rabbit is ill if you take the time to watch and handle it.  But if you just breeze by it, give it feed and water and skip out, it could be silently suffering and you wouldn’t know till it’s too late.

Here’s wishing you and your bunnies a wonderful new year!


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