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How to adopt a bunny

Two rabbits eating greens
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve been wondering how to adopt a bunny, you’ve definitely come to the right place, and with studies showing that rabbits are the third most surrendered animal in the United States, there’s never been a better time to welcome one into your family.

You’ve probably already started researching the best rabbit hutches and toys to make your new floppy-eared friend feel right at home, but before you rush out and purchase supplies, it’s important to understand that while rabbits make delightful pets, consideration needs to be given to whether or not you can meet their unique needs.

Once you’ve done your research and decided that a bunny is indeed the pet for you, adopting one from a rescue center is a great way to give a surrendered rabbit a happy and healthy new life. Read on to find out exactly how to adopt a bunny…

Why are rabbits handed into rescue?

Sadly, the reasons are numerous, and the scale of unwanted pet rabbits is higher than ever. Reasons given include:

  • Developing allergies to the rabbit/s
  • No longer able to afford the care of the rabbit/s due to change in financial circumstances
  • Moving to a home where pets are not allowed
  • Children becoming bored of the rabbit/s
  • Getting a new puppy, so the rabbit is no longer wanted
  • Not understanding what owning rabbits entails, due to lack of research

Many unwanted or stray rabbits handed into veterinary surgeries also end up at rescue centers. There are many other reasons for rabbits to be handed into rescue centers and simply not enough spaces for them all. Many rescue centers have long waiting lists and cannot take in all the rabbits needing a space, so without adoptions taking place, further rabbits cannot be helped.

How can I find a rabbit rescue center?

There are hundreds of rabbit rescue centers. Some are run by individuals from their homes, whilst others are purpose built centres which may also rescue other animals. Rabbit Rehome is a UK-based website that can help you to locate a rabbit rescue, or contact the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) through their website. In the USA, the House Rabbit Society (HRS) can advise on rabbit rescues. Some rescues have websites, so you can search online for local rescues.

Rabbits should live in pairs; they are a social species and need the company of their own kind to thrive and exhibit normal behaviors. The best pairing is a male and female, with both rabbits neutered. We have a handy guide that will help you learn more about how to care for rescue rabbits.

A reputable rescue center will know that rabbits should be kept in pairs and look to find you a suitable pair for adoption. If you are looking for a companion for a single rabbit you already own, they will be able to advise you on the best companion for them and assist or advise on the bonding process.

How do you adopt a rabbit?

A white rabbit and a brown rabbit sat outside together

(Image credit: Getty Images)

All rabbits adopted from a reputable rescue center will be health checked, vaccinated and neutered. The rescue will be able to tell you about the rabbit’s personality, and offer back-up help in the weeks, months and even years to come on topics such as feeding and preventative health care. 

Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes and the variety at rescue centers will vary in age, size, breed and temperament. Some may have special needs, but the rescue centers will be able to advise you accordingly.

Before allowing you to adopt rabbits, the rescue will want to do a home check and discuss how and where the rabbits will be living, and why you want to adopt rabbits. They do this to ensure their rabbits go to suitable homes, so please do not be offended, it is a routine part of the process.

When housing your rescue rabbits, whether indoors or outdoors, you need to provide them with a minimum of 60 square feet of space, 24 hours per day. Rabbit hutches can be used as a shelter in a larger environment for outdoor rabbits, and for those indoors, one of the best indoor rabbit hutches can be used as a base, but rabbits should not be shut into these. Rabbits also need lots of enrichment in their environment and the best rabbit toys are a great way to provide them with this.

You should expect to pay an adoption cost to the rescue. This will be significantly less than the rescue has paid for the neutering, vaccination, feeding and any other health care the rabbit has needed, and saves you paying for all these things to be done. Please do consider giving an extra donation to the rescue if you can afford to. Rabbit rescues rely upon donations to keep afloat, and the adoption fee alone will not cover their costs for that rabbit.

Adopt, don’t shop

Sadly, many rabbits end up in rescue centres and there is simply not enough space in rescue for all rabbits needing help. If you are getting rabbits or a companion for a current rabbit, please consider adopting rescue rabbits.

Claire Speight RVN

Claire currently works in Kettering as a Head Nurse in a practice with a high rabbit caseload, as well as frequently lecturing and writing on rabbits to both veterinary professionals and owners.