Things to Avoid when researching a breeder:
- Anyone who sells underaged bunnies - the legal age to adopt a rabbit is 8 weeks of age. Rabbits can safely wean between 7-8 weeks of age. This is important! If a baby bunny is separated too young it may not develop proper gut flora (this is obtained by ingesting their mothers cecotropes). When this happens these young rabbits may experience sudden onset of diarrhea, lethargy, shock, and even death. Please be realistic when adopting a bunny and expect an 8 week of Holland lop to fit in two hands (not your palm) see below photo for age identification as some breeders will lie about the age of the bunnies they are sending home.
- Avoid anyone who is not willing to send you photos of the parents or provide any details on the parents (names, colors, size, etc..) What this tells me, is that the bunnies may not have been bred by the person selling them, and often times then not, these bunnies are being brought in from either Mexico or from other farms who mass produce rabbits out of state. The term for this type of process is call a "Pet Broker" or a "Pet Flipper". These people will usually buy mass amounts of bunnies (most the time underage) from different breeders and farms and then bring them to their home and try and sell/pass these bunnies off as being bred at their home and THIS IS NOT THE CASE! And many things can come from that situation. One being, how do you know your rabbit is purebred? How do you know how large this bunny may end up? How do you know the age of this rabbit? Second issue, is if this bunny was bred/born elsewhere and then transferred to the person selling them, then has this bunny been exposed to disease? Like RHDv2, Pasteurella, E. Cunculi, Vent Disease, Mites, Ringworm, etc? or has this bunny been subjected to extreme stresses that could lead to mucoid enteritis? Time and time again, I get emails about bunnies adopted from a breeder (or shall I say broker) in both Southern & Nothern California (who has a larger Instagram following) and subsequently these bunnies end up passing away after only a few days/weeks of ownership. When one of these breeders were confronted of the deaths they immediate blamed the owner (then blocked them on social media) and they said the care of the rabbits was negligent and it must have been the new owner's environment causing the death. However, after I was sent photos of the bunnies when they adopted them it was apparent these bunnies were only 4-5 weeks old!
- Avoid anyone who isn't willing to provide a health guarantee. Rabbits are sensitive and not every bunny does well going into a new environment despite our best efforts. Make sure you are dealing with someone who is transparent about what they are willing do to if something unforeseen happens to your bunny immediately after adoption.
- Avoid anyone who does not send home or stress the importance of a transitional diet. Changing your bunny's diet abruptly can cause G.I. upset that can lead to diarrhea, gastric dilation, stress, shock, and even death.
- Avoid anyone who does not provide literature of the proper care of your bunny. Or they don't provide any paperwork with your rabbit (sales terms, health warranty, certificate of pedigree or birth certificate).
- Avoid anyone who has a bunny showroom with mass amounts of rabbits housed together of various ages or anyone who allows strangers to come visit/handle/select their bunny in person (like a pet store). This suggests multiple things/red flags. How do they know which bunny belongs to which parents? How do they know if these bunnies haven't bred and possible pregnant? How is this environment bio-secure if random strangers are allowed to come into that environment and handle all the bunnies? In theory all these bunnies are actively being exposed to virus, disease, parasite, fungal, and possible bacterial infections. Or worse injured/stressed out due to the vast amount of visitors in a single day.
- If you are making a commitment to a rabbit and want to ensure your bunny comes from a reliable breeder - a few good things to look for: A website, because this also allows for accountability if you have an issue with your bunny (and check the domain to see how long it's been established), membership to various rabbit clubs and breed specialty clubs. Are they active in the show circuit? Do they have breed knowledge? Are they willing to answer your questions in detail without getting defensive or hostile? Do they suggest you do your research or are they quick to close the sale and send home a bunny?
- The biggest red flag for me is anyone who will NOT take their bunnies back at anytime to help find it a new furever home or willing to aide in the rehoming process. This resonates BIG TIME with me. If you are a breeder and you are bringing bunnies into this world, then you are responsible for this rabbit for IT'S ENTIRE LIFE. If a breeder can't make that commitment to their bunnies then they are a direct contributor to shelter overpopulation and why pets get dumped. Some breeders say their reasoning is biosecurity (which is a copout). If a breeder is already vetted in biosecurity then they know isolation/quarantine procedures. Any new bunnies or bunnies being brought back into my home are isolated from my herd until a specific time then re-introduced. PLEASE DON'T SUPPORT ANYONE WHO WILL NOT ACCEPT THEIR BUNNIES BACK!!!!
- Avoid anyone who can't determine genders of a rabbit, again, this can lead to unplanned pregnancies.
- Avoid anyone who can provide birthdates or paperwork documenting the date of birth or parents info.
- Avoid anyone who isn't available to help answer your questions AFTER you take your bunny home.
- Avoid anyone who can't provide veterinarian references, what this suggests is they probably don't take their bunnies to a vet if they become ill or need spayed/neutered, or vaccinated.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are having doubts about a breeder you've encountered recently and would like more information about bunny adoption please feel free to message me! The goal of this article is to help families identify a reputable breeder and together we can help shut down brokers, flippers, backyard breeders, and bunny mills.