Why You Should Adopt a Rabbit

So, you've decided to get a rabbit. You've done all your research. You've rabbit-proofed your home. You've got a cage, food, and lots of toys. You've even decided on a name. But perhaps the most important decision is yet to come: where do you get your rabbit?

Many pet stores offer rabbits for sale. Upon seeing a crate full of adorably helpless baby bunnies, many folks can't resist the urge to take one home right there and then. Pet stores count on the appeal of the immature rabbit to stimulate impulse buying. Frequently, the rabbit is bought as a child's pet by an adult who does not realize that rabbits make poor pets for small children. There are no reliable figures as to how many of these rabbits are abandoned, given up to shelters, or die from improper care, but it seems likely that many suffer such a fate. One animal rescue organization reports that in 2007, they received requests for sheltering for 380 rabbits- while in the same year, they placed only two rabbits in new homes. Most people think of rabbits as a kind of rodent, and on par with a rat or gerbil in terms of care and commitment required. This misconception has terrible consequences for the unlucky rabbit. With an average lifespan of around 10 years, the baby rabbit you bought for your child when he was 8 should still be alive when he's getting ready to graduate from high school.

This is only one of the many reasons that adopting a rabbit from an animal shelter is preferable to buying one from a pet store or breeder. Most rabbits sold in pet stores are less than a year old, and if the store is not particularly scrupulous, they may even be younger than 6 weeks- the minimum age at which a rabbit can be removed from its mother. Rabbits found in animal shelters run the gamut of ages, from a few months to old age. By choosing a rabbit whose age aligns with the length of commitment you are willing to make, you will save yourself and the rabbit a great deal of hardship. Also, mature rabbits are often better choices for first-time rabbit owners. Their behavioral patterns have become more predictable, and they have already passed through their "rebellious teen" period. Shelter volunteers are much more likely to be familiar with the unique personalities of the individual rabbits they offer than a pet store employee. This will go a long way toward avoiding disaster down the line, when that bunny that was so cute and appealing as a kit becomes an unholy terror in maturity.

Also, adoption is a far more economical option than purchasing a rabbit. You save the price of the rabbit itself- typically between $20-50. Much more significantly, however, you save the cost of spaying/neutering the animal. This is an essentially non-optional procedure for most people interested in owning a rabbit as a pet. Rabbits that have not been fixed will be more aggressive and temperamental, will frequently spray objects with its scent glands, and are more prone to various health problems, such as uterine cancer. Prices for the procedure vary greatly from one veterinarian to another, but it will cost at least $100. Rabbits adopted from shelters are almost always fixed beforehand, so the adoption fee (usually about $30) is a terrific bargain.