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Choosing a Rabbit

Novices seeking a rabbit for a pet are often surprised to learn how many different types there are. The American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes about 50 different breeds, though they have strict criteria. There are many more.

They range from the American to the Vienna. There are breeds that weigh a couple of pounds, like the Britannia Petite, up to the German Gray Giant who hits the scales at 23 lbs. There are long eared rabbits and short eared (more or less). There are white ones, brown and gray, bluish gray and jet black. There are those with relatively short hair, like the Mini Rex. Then there is the Angora with long, luxurious wool.

Choosing from among them is often nothing more than just an emotional decision, which is a fine way to select a pet. After all, you’re not getting one to do work around the farm. Though rabbits can be useful – their feces make excellent garden manure.

But take a little time to do your homework before letting the heartstrings tug you in one direction or another.

Think about whether you want something easy for a young child to pick up and carry gently around. That means you’ll want one light and easy going. Rabbits can vary not only in their physical features, but their temperament as well. And, you don’t want your six year old to lug around a nervous 20 lb rabbit, do you?

As their fur varies, so also does the effort of dealing with it. The amount they shed varies from one type to another. The care required differs, too. Some can do with a brushing once a week or less. Others will only be in optimal health if brushed daily. And the amount of hair on your couch and rug will be more or less, depending on the breed.

Aesthetic choices certainly vary from person to person. Consider yours. Some like the ‘traditional’ looking, simple black and white Dutch. Others enjoy the fine, dark sable of a Black Silver Martin. But looks aren’t the only consideration.

Keep in mind, too, the environment in which your pet is going to live. If you enjoy letting the rabbit run around the yard, consider whether it will blend in to the background. You have to find it afterwards. On the other hand, if you have an open back yard, say in the country, you may want the rabbit to be able to blend in, in order to avoid predators when you aren’t rabbit-sitting.

Consider whether you want to get one newly weaned (a few weeks old), or whether you prefer a more mature rabbit in order to judge its individual personality. There are pros and cons to either choice.

Rabbits live about 10 years, so you’ll (hopefully) be living with your selection for a long time. Do some homework, consider carefully all the factors, then do what any sensible person does when picking a rabbit: let your feelings be your final guide.

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