Rabbits as pets: general information about dwarf rabbits
Rabbits can make wonderful pets for many situations where a dog or cat isn't possible to have.
They are normally quiet but much to the surprise of many rabbits DO make noises! Some growl similar to a cat when angry, they'll squeal when panic or startled and others make little contentment noises when curling up. They do shed hair and many can be quite long lived with some American breeders reporting rabbits that are long retired living to nine or ten years old.
Dwarf rabbit size
Rabbits in general vary in size from the small Britannia Petite or Netherland Dwarf at just 2-1/2 pounds mature weight to Giant Chinchilla, Giant Angoras and Flemish Giant that can be upwards of fifteen pounds! There is a look and a 'style' for every lifestyle from the large ears and size of the English Lop to the beautiful coats of Rex and Mini Rex to the unique sheen of the Satins and Mini Satins. There are stocky breeds such as the New Zealand or the 'racy' looks of Tans or English Spots. For those who favor a 'productive' pet there are the wooly breeds of Angora descent that require regular grooming for the long fiber that can be spun and used for scarves. This is the true angora fiber as angora goats produce a fleece called 'mohair'. There are rabbit breeds that come in a rainbow of colors and those such as the Lilac which are just one color.
Buying the rabbit - first information
Rabbits can be kept in a very small area and are inexpensive to feed. From a pet standpoint a rabbit need not be a purebred, but one advantage to a purebred is there is a somewhat predictable size and, often, temperament. Reliable breeders often have pet bunnies for under $20 while pet stores in some areas charge up to $200!
Some of the most popular of pet bunnies are the 'marked' breeds. These must have particular coloring or marking pattern which can be very difficult to get. Breeds such as the Tan or Dutch that have rabbits that often are born without the ideal markings can still be wonderful pets!
Rabbits and Hares: are they the same or different?
Rabbits and hares are often seen as the same. They are both small mammals with similar appearance. However, a key difference is the rabbits are generally smaller with shorter ears. Left to their own rabbits will burrow underground and baby rabbits are born blind and helpless. They grow quickly and by two weeks of age have their eyes open and are equipped for life. By contrast, hares live above ground and their babies are born with eyes open and a fur coat. Hares often change color while rabbits stay the same no matter the season. Their diet is different as well as the shape of the head to accommodate that diet.
All rabbits have similarities despite their different looks. By nature the rabbit is an herbivore - they naturally eat grasses and grains. With the exception of bad mothers who kill their young the rabbit does not eat meat and should not be given meat. There are many who do relish a treat of a crust of bread!