Hello - and first questions

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Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:36 am

Firstly - hello! Newly joined today, primarily because I'm looking for some advice, and I prefer talking to people than books - please bear with me if any of these are stupid questions!

I'm looking at getting some rabbits, probably in the spring next year, supposedly as pets for my children, but accepting that the responsibility for care is going to fall on us parents fairly quickly! I had rabbits as a child, but that was a fair time ago now, and things move on, so I want to make sure that I've got everything covered before I dive in.

So - three things that I wanted to ask - any advice greatly appreciated..

1) Ideally I'd like to get a group of three rabbits to live together. They would be sharing living quarters (I'll get to that later), so in terms of gender, is there a "better" sex to look for with co-habiting (or should that be co-rabbiting?)? I'm presuming that un-neutered buck would fight at some point? Is it better to get does, or castrated males, or a mix? From a temperament point of view, is there a trend toward one being more friendly?

2) From a breed perspective, again are there any that are more suited to living in groups? Obviously space will be a factor, so giant breeds are probably out, but other than that are they all good?

3) Accommodation. Whilst I like the idea of having rabbits as house pets, this isn't realistic. Apart from space limitations, I have two cats, and although they are both too old (and toothless) to be hunters, I don't think it would be fair (on anyone) to bring rabbits into their home, so I'd be looking at outdoors living for the rabbits. Whatever I come up with hutch wise will be complemented with a lawn run, but what sort of square footage should I be looking at for a hutch to accommodate three rabbits? I'll be looking to custom build something as there's not much about over the six foot size, and that doesn't seem big enough.

Thanks for reading this far - look forward to your collective wisdom.

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by c.bolduan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:52 am

Welcome to HH! Very Happy
And the world of Rabbits!
Firstly there are no stupid questions. As we all started rabbiting at one point in our life most of us learned by doing,even mistakes and asking questions. Thumbs Up
The first thing is to say thank you for considering, asking, evaluating and wanting to care for a rabbit. I'm sure other Hoppers will join in and offer their advice and point of view.

1. You say you want to get the bunnies for your children? Why?
It is claimed in the past that rabbits are good pets for children, but I'm not sure about this. May I ask:
How old are the kids?
A bunny can live up to 10-12 years. They are a long term commitment? Can you see where I'm coming from? If you want a bunny that's great,
And if others of the family join in to care for the even better! Rabbits are very fragile, don't necessarily like to be picked up and carried about. No
2. You want three? Why?
The best is to have a neutered pair. Check with local rescues. The benefit is that all animals are vaccinated, spayed and the rescue is likely to have them bonded. I guess the smaller the kids the bigger the bunny.
3.homing can be achieved by different means. It may be worth to have a look for sheds, Wendy houses, dog kennels and so. Purpose build is cool if you got someone who has the DIY skills or if you can effort a substantial amount of money. There are good suggestions on the website. Take your time and browse. How big is your garden? Generally a run should be big enough for the bunny to take 3-4 consecutive hops, be able to stand upright, stretch out. This is with all furniture included, not in an empty hutch or run.


Last edited by c.bolduan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:20 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Pressed send button to early.)

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by KatieB on Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:42 am

Hi Hun

Welcome to HH :-)

If only ore people took advice before getting bunnies.

Your best starting point is to look at rescue buns. Especially for a trio as getting three can cause issues. Bunnies of both sexes are territorial so whatever your mix you are leaving a very good chance of fighting as any babies grow .. And it can get very nasty.

By getting rescue bunnies they will bonded for you and vaccinated and the bond will be tried and tested to make sure they get on.
Otherwise you will need to get all three spayed as soon as they are only enough to try and prevent fighting (if it's not too late)

As for accommodation the minimum hutch size should be 6x6x2 feet with a minimum 6x4 run that they have 12 hour access to. This would still be small for three of them so a much better suggestion would be a shed with a run attached - this would give them plenty of space and would actually work out a similar cost. It is also easier for you to keep clean as you can easily add litter trays for them to use, which can be changed easily daily. A rabbit in the wild covers 3 football pitches a day so they need lots of space. Enrichment is also essential.

It's important to note that even with a shed and run set up they will still need additional exercise.

Bunnies are not really very suitable for small children. As they are a prey animal the dont like to be picked up or grabbed generally. A large amount of bunnies end up with broken backs etc after being handled by children as the bunnies do what is natural and try to escape, so they are more a pet that the children interact with on the ground rather than picking them up.

Food wise bunnies should eat 80% good quality hay, 10% nuggets, 10% veg. Absolutely no meusli. This diet keeps their teeth healthy and tummies working. Vaccinations are about 45 per bun per year, and insurance is about 12 per bun per month about 120 and it also costs about 120 to have teeth rasped.

Please feel free to ask as many questions as you like - we are always happy to help :-)



Katie, Daisy B, Charlie & Annabelle x
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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:40 am

Wow - two substantial replies already - thanks guys.

I'll try to answer all of your questions - here goes;

Why bunnies as pets for the children? All three kids love rabbits, a number of their friends have them, and from having rabbits myself as a child, I remember them as being a very rewarding pet in terms of what you get back from them in affection. I also want the kids to have pets that they can think of as their own, as I want them to learn about the responsibility that comes with pet ownership - although they would very much be family pets.

How old are the kids? 2, 4 and 7. It's a double edged sword in a way - as you say, rabbits are a long term commitment, and if I wait until the kids are all in their early teens, then the rabbits will still be around when the kids are leaving home - the flip side is that 2 and 4 (for certain) are too young to take complete responsibility for an animal - but my wife and I would ultimately ensure their well-being. My kids have grown up with animals, and they've learnt (the hard way) from the cats about giving animals their own space and reading their behaviour - they definitely wouldn't ever be handling the rabbits unattended.

Why 3? Well having three kids goes some way to answering that question - but that's not all of it. With social animals I've always felt that having pairs leaves you with the added pressure, when the inevitable loss of one animal eventually occurs, that you are left with one pet that is lacking companionship, forcing you somewhat into rushing into acquiring a "replacement" before you've dealt with all the human emotions that go with losing a pet. If a pair is ideal for the rabbits then I'll happily go with a pair - but that was my logic behind thinking of three.

Rescue animals will definitely be the way I go - I've always used rescue centres for all my pets, and I see no reason to deviate from this for rabbits.

In terms of accommodation - my plan is to get the biggest hutch I can, then link it via a short passageway to this weird outhouse / shed thing we have (don't really know what to call it, but it's a uPVC construction lean-to that's the length of the house, and about six feet wide) - I'm thinking that I can partition off an area within that to give them additional living space that has the added bonus of being warmer than a hutch in the winter months. A run for the lawn would be no problem - in fact if it cuts down on the amount of times I have to mow, or it keeps the dandelions under control, I see it as a bonus!

Thanks for the indicative costs involved too - I'd thought of food, vaccinations and insurance, but had forgotten about tooth rasping - how frequently would you say that this needs doing?



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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by FluffSlave on Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:56 am

Hello, and welcome to HH Wave

Thank you for doing your research first. If only more people would do the same as you...

I am so glad you were considering going the rescue route anyway. There are so many needy buns in rescue and as others have mentioned, a rescue bunny comes with the benefits of already being neutered and vaccinated, and there will be loads who are already bonded. I do feel a pair is easier but some rescues might be able to sort you with a trio. For example - (I have no idea where you're based) - but Fat Fluffs in Solihull appears to have loads of young buns from unwanted litters at the moment who I think(!) are living as a large group.

As long as you supervise the children with them and take on the overall care responsibility, bunnies can be good pets. However, as has already been said they do not like to be picked up and cuddled, but will quite happily be fussed at ground level. A shed type set up would help with this as your children can sit and enjoy them in all weathers this way.

Tooth rasping is not a routine procedure. However, it is very common and is used for buns with dental issues. Unfortunately, there is no telling whether your bun will have dental issues. Quite often it's a genetic problem, and some bunny breeds are more likely to suffer with teeth than others.

Hope I've helped - please keep us updated on what you decide! Very Happy
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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:04 am

Thanks.
One of the reasons for wanting to wait until spring is that I want the rabbits to be able to interact with / get used to the children in the freedom of the garden rather than being confined to a small space or trying to handle them too early - I figured that if I were to buy rabbits now, the opportunities to sit outside with them may be somewhat limited over winter.

My first port of call will probably be a place local to me (in Sussex) called Raystede - they seem to be a decent place, and I've rehomed cats from there in the past and been impressed with them and the work they do.


Last edited by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:18 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo correction)

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by c.bolduan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:42 am

Ahh, now it all makes more sense. Smile
Check with your rescue I'm sure they will be able to accommodate your wishes as there is enough time to wait for the right bunnies to hop around. Well done for your research before getting them Hugs Thumbs Up

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:14 pm

If you have a rescue in mind chat with them and find out their requirements. When I got one of mine from a local RSPCA centre they were very fixed on them having a 6ft hutch despite the fact that the rabbits have the run of the house.

To build a good safe outside set up it is going to be costly. Sheds are great as they give you the opportunity to sit in with the buns. Likewise aviary style runs are great for the same reason. In a shed you want to go for something that is at lease 6ftX4ft made of shiplap or tongue and groove boarding not overlap. You want to think about insulating it and then covering the boarding with and inner hardboard. Linoing the floor and painting the walls with a rabbit friendly paint so all inner surfaes are cleanable. You will also want to add in shelves and thinkgs for the buns to climb on. Run size - as big as possible. You can link it to the shed with a cat flap. You will probably want to have pavin slabs under the run to help keep the buns nails down and stop them tunneling out or foxes tunneling in. You want to ensure the whole lot is secured with heavy duty bolts and possibly padlocks as rabbits are quite commonly stolen. A good outdoor set up costs a lot, but if you invest in good materials then it will last the buns lifetime.

As for breeds. With young children I would advise you to go bigger with the breeds. Small buns need just as much space to run around in as big buns so there is not necessarily any benefit in getting small rabbits. Big rabbits are more difficult for children to lift and so are less likely to be dropped. Big rabbits also have the reputation for generally being more laid back and relaxed. Also do not go for anything too hairy as they will be more effort to look after. Be aware that Lionhead coats change depending on where they are in the moult season and if you have an allergic child then any vaguely fluffy bun will probably set off their allergies.

When you go to the rescue don't become too fixed on having a trio. If they have well bonded pairs you are better off going for this than upsetting the bond by trying to add a third rabbit. Bonding rabbits can be really stressful and difficult and you run the risk of having three rabbits that just won't go back together at all.

With regards to the group set up - one male max per group. Even if they are siblings boys will often fight once they hit maturity. They are even more likely to fight if there is a female to fight over even if she is several gardens away. If you have a good relationship with the rescue then I wouldn't worry too much about what happens when you loose one half of a pair as the rescue should support you at that point find the right solution.


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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:54 pm

Thanks - good advice, the rescue place will be my next port of call I think.

My plan (/ ambition) for the accommodation is to buy a ready-made hutch and incorporate it as part of a larger complex - so I was thinking of something like this


But then having a cat-flap type door on one end which would go through to an indoor space approx 10x3 (feet).

All of this would be supplemented with a lawn-run for daytime use, but I'm just thinking of how much space I can give them when they are "away".

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:30 pm

What is the indoor space? I ask because if it is part of a garage then it is inadvisable to use it for your car as well as the fumes will do the animals no good.


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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:53 pm

No, it's not a garage, it's a workshop / shed / thingy - I don't know what you'd call it really, but it's a space that's attached to the side of the house, that has power and heating, and is of uPVC construction - a bit like a conservatory with no windows. It's used for storage (bikes, tools, garden furniture etc), I reckon I can use about a quarter of it to give bunnies some extended living space.

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:11 pm

How hot does it get in the summer?


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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by jolovesbunnies on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:11 pm

Welcome to our happy family love.

Hugs
JO xx

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:20 pm

cheryl'n'bruce'flo wrote:How hot does it get in the summer?

It doesn't really get hot - it has a translucent plastic roof, not glass, and it's in the shadow of the house for most of the day - it's usually cooler than outside. It also has windows all round which can be kept open for ventilation - if only I didn't need it for storage I'd let them have the whole thing and it would be problem solved!


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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Thumper2001 on Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:30 pm

Hello and welcome Wave
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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Tuckerbunnies on Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:26 pm

I see you have had some excellent advice and information so I will just say Welcome to the Forum Wave

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by GreenBean on Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:48 pm

Welcome! I'm fairly new here myself and have had some fantastic help from the members here.

I'm sure your rescue will be a great place to start your search as they get to know all the buns so can match up the potential new family with the right rabbits. We foster rabbits for a local rescue and whilst all have been lovely and wonderful, some have been far better suited to potentially being around young kids than others. If you have a rabbit that startles easily or doesn't like being petted, it's not going to be the right choice for him/her to be in a home with young kids.

So much fantastic advice here and Hop to It is an excellent little booklet with loads of great info and things to think about too - you can view it online. http://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/RWAbrochuremaster.pdf

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Tuckerbunnies on Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:44 pm

npanne wrote:Thanks - good advice, the rescue place will be my next port of call I think.

My plan (/ ambition) for the accommodation is to buy a ready-made hutch and incorporate it as part of a larger complex - so I was thinking of something like this


But then having a cat-flap type door on one end which would go through to an indoor space approx 10x3 (feet).

All of this would be supplemented with a lawn-run for daytime use, but I'm just thinking of how much space I can give them when they are "away".

I love that hutch I'd like one of those hutches for my two girls Dotty and Cleo may I ask where is it from Smile

Thank You.

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:58 pm

Apparently I can't paste the link here - try putting three "w"s in front of this .therabbithutchcompany.co.uk/rabbit-hutches/the-coach-house-6ft-rabbit-hutch-84.html

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Tuckerbunnies on Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:06 pm

npanne wrote:Apparently I can't paste the link here - try putting three "w"s in front of this .therabbithutchcompany.co.uk/rabbit-hutches/the-coach-house-6ft-rabbit-hutch-84.html

Oh I know the rabbit hutch company Smile it's a brilliant hutch a good size, we have the single one of those which was from a garden centre and we bought it as it was well made I didn't know
they made a double in it Very Happy

Thank you very much x

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Thumper2001 on Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:34 pm

npanne wrote:Apparently I can't paste the link here - try putting three "w"s in front of this .therabbithutchcompany.co.uk/rabbit-hutches/the-coach-house-6ft-rabbit-hutch-84.html
You have to be a member for a certain amount of time or make a certain number of posts before you can post links, can't remember which! Smile
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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by c.bolduan on Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:08 pm

Looks good and promising. News from the conference may be interesting to you too. Check the threat. Peek holes! Get down to bunny level and see the world....
Give you a lot of credit to be so considerate before taking them on.
RESPECT! Hugs Wave confused cheers Happy Dance
Who ever the bunnies are they are fortunate to come to,you!

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by npanne on Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:52 pm

Thanks everyone for your welcomes and advice so far.
I'm still waiting to hear back from my local rescue place - I've emailed them with a few questions, but one thing did concern me from the info on their website.
I think I'm good as far as hutch / living space is concerned, but when it comes to a run for the daytime, they recommend a MINIMUM of 365cm x 365cm (12 feet by 12 feet, in old money). That seems quite large - or am I wrong?

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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by Munchkin_Mummy on Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:26 pm

Hiya Smile welcome to HH!
I'm sorry I'm very late to this thread! Just to say I have three bunnies myself, not because I set out to get three (volunteering for my local RSPCA branch is hazardous!) I have two neutered makes and a neutered female and they get on very, very well - but I know not all buns do! It genuinely depends on the buns themselves as to whether or not a trio will work Smile
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Re: Hello - and first questions

Post by GreenBean on Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:51 pm

npanne wrote:I think I'm good as far as hutch / living space is concerned, but when it comes to a run for the daytime, they recommend a MINIMUM of 365cm x 365cm (12 feet by 12 feet, in old money). That seems quite large - or am I wrong?
I'm quite sure they would love it of course, but the rescues I've seen say the minimum sized attached run should be around 8ft x 4ft.

I should think a 12ft x 12ft minimum run would probably filter out some fabulous homes as a lot of people don't have that sort of space
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