Rabbits are often purchased as impulse pets or gifts for children. Sometimes, after people realize that a rabbit requires the same commitment as a dog or cat, they question their decision. There may also be times a beloved family pet has to be given up due to a drastic change in circumstances in the home.
If you have changed your mind about your rabbit we urge you to speak to us or read our information about rabbit behaviour. Did you know that spaying and neutering helps to decrease negative behaviours associated with sexual maturity (including digging and chewing)? Often, people don’t realize that a “destructive”, “messy” or “aggressive” bunny can become a model of decorum with a little help from its owners. You may be surprised to find out how easy it is to litter train your rabbit and bunny-proof your home, making it easier to have your rabbit out of the cage, socializing with you. The more time you spend with your rabbit out of its cage, the more you will realize it has a unique personality of its own.
If you have determined that you really must find a new home for your rabbit, we urge you to consider the following:
- Many people decide to “free” their bunnies and release them “back” to the forest. The domestic rabbit is actually a descendent of the European Wild Rabbit
(Oryctolagus cuniculus), a different species than the wild rabbits we have here. Wild rabbits tend to live in groups and have complex warrens dug into the
ground, where they can retreat to for protection. If you release your pet into the wild, your rabbit will remain all alone. His instincts are not strong enough
for him to live alone in the wild and survive. So, while it sounds like a good idea, a domestic rabbit released into the wild will likely succumb quickly to
predators, disease or food shortages soon after being released. Please don’t release your rabbit into the wild!
- One option would be to contact your local shelter to see if they will take your rabbit. Some shelters charge a surrender fee, and some shelters have waiting lists.
If your area shelter is full, or if you prefer to try to find a home for your rabbit yourself, place ads in newspapers, pet stores, vet clinics, petfinder services on the internet or anywhere that caters to animal lovers. It is helpful to provide as many details as you can about your rabbit: health, personality, behaviour, sex, etc. Note that an altered rabbit (neutered or spayed) is more likely to find a new home than an unaltered rabbit.
We suggest that you provide the following information to potential adopters:
- The rabbit’s name
- Sex, whether the animal has been spayed or neutered or not
- A brief physical description, including approximate age and weight
- A brief description of the rabbit’s personality. For example: Is the rabbit
used to other family pets or children? Does it like to be petted? Beg for
treats? What does it like to play with? etc…
- List any special conditions for adoption (i.e., no children, indoor homes
When placing your rabbit in a new home, it is also helpful to prepare a list of questions to ask potential adopters. Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure that your rabbit is placed in a good home.
Some sample questions you can ask include:
- Have you ever had a rabbit before? If so, when, and where is that rabbit
- How will the rabbit be housed?
- Why do you want a pet rabbit?
- What qualities do you expect from a pet?
To ensure that your rabbit gets a good home, beware of giving your rabbit away for free (especially if you are including a cage), or to people who do not appear to be interested in hearing about the rabbit’s personality, likes, dislikes, diet, behaviour, etc. Some potential adopters may only be interested in the free cage. If you feel that a potential home is not suitable, then make an excuse and do not adopt to that person. Politely tell them that the rabbit does not do well with children or dogs, for example. Remember, it may take a bit of time before you find a good home for your rabbit. In the interim, we encourage you to read the educational information on our site or e-mail us if you need advice on dealing with behavioural issues.