Raising Pet Rabbits

How to Raise Pet Rabbits. Lots of useful information and resources for enthusiasts looking to raise pet bunny rabbits.

Pet Rabbit

Rabbits are one of the most popular pets in America, often ranked in the top five, depending on who is counting. Thus, raising rabbits for the purpose of selling them as pets can be a profitable endeavor, as well as an emotionally rewarding one. Before you begin, here are a few things to consider:

What types of rabbits make the best pets?

Domestic rabbits come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, and color combinations. Though any of them can make good companions, your customers will desire some types more than others. You should start with breeding animals that are less than five pounds when full grown. Offspring from these small or “dwarf” type bunnies will be small enough to fit in customer’s hands when they are old enough to be sold, which will greatly increase their appeal. And of course, even though larger breeds will be little and cute as babies, no customer will recommend you to others if the tiny “dwarf” bunny they purchased from you as a kit grows to be the size of a ten-pound New Zealand!

Pet Rabbits

Color is almost as important when selecting animals to begin your project. Pet customers tend to be most interested in spotted rabbits, those known as “broken colored.” After brokens, any bright and attractive color will have appeal, but pet buyers tend to avoid the colors black, chocolate, and ruby-eyed white. The rabbits you raise for pets should have normal-length coats. Although breeds with long hair or “wool,” such as the Jersey Wooly or Lionhead, may have appeal to some, their coats can become matted quickly in case of neglect, causing the rabbit to suffer. Breeds such as the Holland Lop and Dutch are excellent choices as they are small, short-furred, and have good temperaments. Although mixed breed rabbits may sell just as well as purebreds, some pet owners prefer to have a purebred rabbit that they choose to show at some point.

What equipment do you need to raise pet rabbits?

It doesn’t take a lot of setup to breed companion bunnies. You’ll need a number of cages, ten at minimum. Both your original male and female rabbit must have their own cage. Then you must have cages ready for the babies as they grow. Male babies should be separated from their mother at about six weeks of age, and females by eight weeks of age. The babies will be healthier if they each have their own cage so they don’t have to compete with their littermates. Even if you intend to relocate the babies when young, you should have backup cages to keep them in case they did not sell as quickly as you expected. Other than housing, you just need the basic rabbit-raising equipment such as feeders, water bottles, crocks, resting mats, and a waste removal system. A nesting box for the doe is essential. Pet rabbits can be successfully raised on a good quality rabbit pellet, with fresh hay and water.

Training Pet Rabbits

Since you are planning to sell the babies you produce as treasured companions, you will want to make sure they are well-socialized before they go to their new homes. Ideally, the breeding cages should be located in your home, so bunnies will grow up accustomed to people and other animals such as dogs and cats, making them most comfortable when they move in with their new owners. Pet rabbits can be successfully raised outdoors in a safe barn or hutch, but you should handle your babies every day from the time they start to emerge from the nest box. Train them to be comfortable when held in a variety of positions, including upside-down. (It’s often necessary to hold rabbits upside-down to trim their toenails or check their health.) Make sure they are used to voices and children. Some breeders even run a radio in the barn to acclimate their rabbits to foreign sounds. You may even consider training your babies to use a litter box before sending them to their new owners.

The Pet Rabbit Market

Bunny breeding is relatively inexpensive, but costs can quickly add up if you don’t have a good place to sell your babies. Unfortunately, the pet rabbit market varies quite a bit by season and area. Pets will always sell better around Easter and Christmastime, but you should make sure you screen buyers extra well at those seasons, to avoid selling to people who just want a bunny as a bit of holiday décor. At any time of the year, there’s one key to selling your rabbits quickly: exposure. There’s always someone looking for a pet rabbit. If they can find your rabbitry, they will probably buy from you. If they can’t, they won’t. Advertising in the local newspaper is somewhat effective, but your greatest exposure will come from a high-quality rabbit website that ranks well on search engines for pet rabbits for sale in your area. Prices on pets range from free to over a hundred dollars, but the best bet is to keep your prices between $30 and $50. While that may seem a bit high, it can ensure both a profit for you and a dedicated home for the bunny.