An important part of buying a pet rabbit is to ensure you select a healthy rabbit.
Rabbits offered for sale should not be less than 6 weeks of age and should be separated by sex with males (bucks) in one cage and females (does) in another. If the rabbits are not separated by sex and/or the seller cannot guarantee the sex of any rabbit there is a risk of choosing a female that may be pregnant and so it is best to look elsewhere for a rabbit.
Before selecting a rabbit first look at the cage - it should be clean and not overcrowded and the rabbits should have access to food and water. Any droppings in the cage should be firm and not runny.
Next observe all the rabbits in the cage to see that all look healthy and lively as if one rabbit appears ill the others may also be ill or at risk of becoming ill. Look out for sneezing, excessive scratching, dirty coats or lethargy as any of these could indicate health problems. If there is any doubt then it is best to look elsewhere for a rabbit.
If there is no cause for concern after an initial inspection of the cage and rabbits, then you can start in selecting your rabbit. Ask to hold any rabbit that you are thinking of choosing and go through the checklist below to ensure it is healthy.
- The body should be firm and neither fat nor skinny. There should be no signs of injury or swelling.
- The coat should be clean with no matting or bald patches. Check underneath the rabbit also.
- There should be no wetness or soiling around the bottom which could indicate diarrhoea.
- The eyes should be bright and clean, not runny, sticky or cloudy.
- The inside of the ears should be clean and not show any signs of scabs, flakiness of the skin or discharge.
- The nose should be clean and not show any signs of discharge.
- The rabbit should be alert and inquisitive, not lethargic.
- The teeth should not be excessively long or broken, and there should be no signs of dribbling around the chin which can indicate teeth problems.
- The rabbit should not show any signs of pain, difficulty in breathing or aggression.
If the rabbit shows any problems indicated above, then choose another rabbit to inspect. Take your time over choosing a rabbit and ensuring that it is healthy and don't be rushed by the seller into making a snap decision.