Thinking of welcoming an adorable, floppy-eared rabbit into your home? Adopting a bunny can be an incredibly fulfilling decision if done carefully and responsibly. Before hopping into pet parenthood, there are crucial questions you should ask to ensure you find the right rabbit match. This comprehensive 10-point questionnaire covers everything from ideal diet and litter training to vet care, existing pets, and beyond. Getting the key details from shelters and breeders reduces surprises down the road. Read on to learn the must-ask questions that set you up for rabbit adoption success! Finding your perfect bunny partner starts with being an informed, dedicated adopter.
1. What type of food is the rabbit eating?
Proper nutrition is extremely important for a rabbit’s health and wellbeing. There are three main types of diet that pet rabbits are typically fed:
Pellets – These are commercially available dry foods that contain compressed hay along with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Pellets should make up a portion of an adult rabbit’s diet, about 1/4 cup per 5 lbs of body weight daily. High-quality pellets specifically formulated for rabbits are recommended.
Hay – Grass hay like timothy or orchard should make up the majority of a rabbit’s diet, around 75%. Hay promotes dental health by wearing down teeth and provides fiber to support digestive health. Unlimited access to hay is ideal.
Fresh veggies – Leafy greens and vegetables like kale, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, carrots, and small amounts of fruits can round out a rabbit’s diet. Introduce new veggies slowly and limit high-calorie veggies.
When adopting a rabbit, find out what types of food it has been eating up until this point. Making any sudden changes can upset the delicate bacterial balance in a rabbit’s digestive tract. Transition slowly from its previous diet to the optimal diet described here over a period of 2-4 weeks. This gives the gut microbiome time to adjust.
Check that the rabbit has constant access to fresh timothy or orchard hay. See if vegetables and fruits are given as treats or daily greens. Ask what brand of pellets the rabbit is currently eating and research the quality. Lower quality diets with seeds, nuts, and sugary treats lead to obesity and health problems.
Getting clear information on the rabbit’s current diet will allow you to transition them to a healthier one if needed. Be wary of any diarrhea or soft stools right after adoption, as this indicates digestive upset from a diet change that was too abrupt.
2. Is the rabbit litter trained?
Litter training is an important consideration when adopting a rabbit, as it makes care much easier and cleaner. Here are some key questions to ask:
– Is the rabbit fully litter trained, meaning does it consistently use a litter box for urination and defecation? Or is training still a work in progress?
– What type of litter is the rabbit used to using? Common options are paper-based litter, wood shavings, or pelleted rabbit litter. Knowing this can help you continue training with a familiar substrate.
– Does the rabbit have accidents outside of the litter box? If so, how often? Accidents may indicate a medical issue like a urinary tract infection or a behavior problem.
– How many litter boxes does the rabbit have access to? Typically you need at least one box per rabbit, plus extras around the house.
– Does the rabbit have a designated bathroom corner or area? Rabbits tend to be very habitual about where they relieve themselves. It helps training to place litter boxes in these spots.
– Are there any tips the current owner can share about the rabbit’s bathroom habits that may help with continued training? For example, a routine for cleaning boxes or types of litter the rabbit prefers.
Getting all these details will help you understand how much continued effort litter training may require when you adopt the rabbit. Fully trained rabbits make great pets, while those needing more training will require patience and diligence on your part. But the effort is well worth it!
3. What kind of personality does the rabbit have? Do they have a bite history?
A rabbit’s personality and socialization will strongly influence how they interact with your family. Here are some key questions:
– Is the rabbit social, shy, playful, timid, outgoing, etc? Get descriptions of their unique personality traits.
– Does the rabbit like being held and cuddled? Or do they dislike being picked up? This will impact how much hands-on interaction is possible.
– Is the rabbit content being left alone? Or do they crave constant companionship? This will affect freedom you have to be away from home.
– How does the rabbit behave around strangers? Wary or friendly? Some need longer to warm up to new people.
– Has the rabbit lived with children before? If so, how did they respond? If not, discuss proper introductions.
– Does the rabbit get along with other pets? Or display aggressive tendencies? Existing pets at home is an important consideration.
– Very importantly – does the rabbit have any history of biting or aggression? If so, under what circumstances? Be very cautious about adopting a biter until you understand the triggers and can implement proper training.
The more detail you can get on personality, the better you can assess if the rabbit will be a good fit. Be realistic about any problem behaviors you may need to correct, and make sure you have the knowledge and dedication to properly train the rabbit. Taking the time to match personality to your home situation will pay off with years of bunny enjoyment!
4. Approximately how old is the rabbit?
A rabbit’s age is an important factor when considering adoption. Some key questions include:
– What is the rabbit’s exact or approximate age? Get this in weeks/months if young or years if older.
– At what age was the rabbit obtained? Knowing origin can help estimate age if unclear.
– Are they spayed/neutered? Altered rabbits often live 8-10 years, unaltered 5-6 years on average.
– Does the rabbit show any signs of aging like slowed movement, poor vision, or hearing loss? This may indicate an older rabbit.
– Does the rabbit have a history of any medical issues? Some conditions are age-related.
Understanding age helps determine if the rabbit is baby, adolescent, adult, or senior. Each comes with distinct care needs:
– Babies require extra hands-on care and training.
– Adolescents need lots of attention and enrichment as they become more territorial.
– Adult rabbits make great pets and are often very healthy.
– Seniors may start to slow down and need vet checkups to manage age-related conditions.
While baby bunnies are adorable, carefully consider if you can provide attentive early care. Adult and senior rabbits often make wonderful lower-maintenance companions. Getting clarity on age sets realistic expectations for adopting the pet that best fits your home.
5. Does the rabbit have any experience with children?
Rabbits and young children can make great companions – with proper introductions and supervision. When adopting, ask:
– Has this rabbit lived in a home with children before? What ages?
– If so, how did the rabbit respond to the children? Was the rabbit relaxed, playful, fearful, shy, aggressive, etc around them?
– Did the children know how to properly pick up and handle the rabbit? Were they supervised?
– Is the rabbit tolerant of activity, noises, and messes typical in a child’s environment?
– Are there any situations involving children that seemed stressful for the rabbit? For example, chasing or picking up against its will.
If the rabbit hasn’t lived with children, discuss proper introductions:
– Initial interactions should be gentle and minimized until the rabbit is comfortable.
– Teach children to pet softly, move slowly, and avoid picking up the rabbit.
– Always supervise young children and do not leave them unsupervised with a new rabbit.
– Make sure children wash hands before and after touching the rabbit.
– Set clear rules for handling – for example, do not disturb a sleeping rabbit.
With preparation, rabbits can do very well in households with respectful and attentive children. The key is learning the rabbit’s personality and supervising carefully during introductions. This sets everyone up for success.
6. Has the rabbit lived with other pets?
If you have existing pets, understanding how the rabbit interacts with other animals is very important:
– What types of pets has the rabbit lived with – dogs, cats, birds, rodents, etc?
– What was the rabbit’s reaction to each type of animal? Did they get along well, ignore each other, or display aggression?
– Were there any injuries from fights? This may indicate a high risk of future conflict.
– What precautions were taken when leaving the rabbit unsupervised with other pets?
– Does the rabbit’s personality seem to mesh well with your current pets? For example, fearful rabbits and hyper dogs are not a good match.
– Could the rabbit’s needs, like space requirements or litter habits, clash with any of your pets? This could cause conflicts.
– Are your pets up-to-date on vaccines and veterinary care? This reduces disease transmission risk.
Take time to carefully consider existing pets’ temperaments and the rabbit’s personality before adopting. Having expectations for slow introductions, separate spaces, and controlled interactions can help multi-pet households succeed.
7. Are there any health concerns you should be aware of?
It’s important to get full disclosure of any past or existing health conditions when adopting a rabbit. Key questions include:
– Does the rabbit have any chronic illnesses or genetic conditions you should be aware of? Get all details.
– Have there been any bouts of infectious diseases? GI stasis? Signs of arthritis?
– What emergency or critical care has the rabbit required? For example, surgery or hospitalization.
– What is the rabbit’s vaccination history? Are vaccines up to date?
– Does the rabbit receive annual checkups? When was their last appointment?
– Is the rabbit on any long-term medications? What for, and will supplies be included?
– How often does the rabbit need nail trims? Who has been performing this maintenance?
– Have there been any eyesight or hearing issues you should watch for?
Full transparency about medical history allows you to make an informed adoption decision and properly care for conditions as they arise. Do not hesitate to ask for veterinary records as proof of care. The rabbit’s good health is paramount.
8. Has the rabbit been spayed or neutered?
Spaying or neutering is extremely important for pet rabbits for these reasons:
– It eliminates hormone-driven behaviors like territorial marking, aggressiveness, and mounting.
– Unspayed females are at very high risk for uterine cancer later in life. Spaying prevents this.
– Neutering minimizes male rabbits’ musky odor and reduces testosterone-fueled behaviors.
– Altered rabbits are calmer, more affectionate pets.
So when adopting, always ask:
– Has the rabbit been spayed or neutered? How long ago was the procedure done?
– If not, are you willing to get this done soon after adoption? Most vets advise altering between 4-6 months old.
– Are there any signs the rabbit is unaltered, like territorial behaviors or mounting? Behaviors may change post-procedure.
If adopting an unaltered rabbit, schedule the spay/neuter as soon as recommended by your vet. Never attempt to breed pet rabbits – pregnancy complications are common and can be fatal. Responsibly altering your pet is the safest, healthiest decision all around.
9. Are there any rabbit veterinarians in the area?
Rabbits require specialized veterinary care, so locating an experienced exotics vet is key before adoption. When researching options near you:
– Ask the current owner which vet they use and if they recommend them. First-hand experiences are helpful.
– Make sure the vet treats rabbits regularly – this expertise is a must.
– Consider clinic hours. Rabbits need urgent care fast, so after-hours emergency services are preferable.
– Look up vet reviews online and any mentions of rabbit expertise. This can identify best options.
– Tour facilities you’re considering to meet the vets first-hand. Evaluate cleanliness, staff knowledge, and handling skills.
– Ask about pricing for standard care like exams, spays/neuters, and common illnesses. Know what to budget for.
Having an exotics vet you trust and can access quickly reduces stressful delays in medical situations. Don’t finalize an adoption until you’ve researched options and decided on a rabbit-savvy clinic nearby.
10. What is your rehoming policy?
Responsible rescues and breeders will have a rehoming policy in place in case the adoption does not work out. Be sure to ask:
– If I could no longer care for the rabbit, would you take them back? What is the process?
– Are there any fees associated with rehoming the rabbit back to your organization?
– Do you assist with re-vetting and rehoming the rabbit yourself? Or is this my responsibility?
– Are there any time limits on when the rabbit can be rehomed back to you?
– Will I need to provide any documentation like veterinary records?
Ideally, the organization will take the rabbit back at any point in its lifetime and handle rehoming themselves. Breeders allowing “returns” of sick rabbits from unprepared owners is concerning, however.
Responsible rescues want adopters to be well-prepared for a lifelong commitment. Be wary of any organization that will not take the animal back in the event you cannot properly care for them. Rehoming policies protect rabbits from neglect or abandonment if an adoption fails.
Adopting a pet rabbit can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but the decision should not be made lightly. Taking the time to thoroughly understand your potential rabbit’s needs through this questionnaire helps set you both up for success. The ideal match brings together a healthy, well-socialized rabbit with an educated owner committed to providing proper diet, housing, enrichment, veterinary care, and training. While first-year costs may seem high, the payoff is a delightful companion animal. By starting your journey together informed and prepared, you’ll embark on a lifelong friendship with your new bunny.