Some reasons for rehoming a rabbit are simply unavoidable. Serious illness, death of the owner, having to move into rented accommodation, moving abroad or major changes in an owner’s financial situation are amongst the many reasons rabbits are given up to rescues. Rabbit rescues are normally very sympathetic when an owner has to rehome their rabbit due to unforeseen circumstances.
Sadly many are given up for reasons which could have been avoided with a little foresight or which can be avoided with a bit of help.
Help with behavioural problems in rabbits
Behavioural problems in rabbits can be avoided with the right know-how if the rabbit’s needs can be accommodated. Catsration/spaying, companionship of another rabbit, more room to exercise, health checks and advice on handling might make all the difference. The Rabbit Welfare Association has a great deal of advice on how to keep a rabbit happy and there are rabbit behaviourists who can help too.
Rabbit rescues will often be able to advise on short term boarding or fostering in the case of illness of the rabbit owner, as well as on behavioural issues. It might be possible to work with or through the rabbit rescue to come to a solution which does not mean permanent rehoming.
Avoidable reasons for rehoming a rabbit
Amongst the reasons which tend to upset rabbit rescues are those which meant the owner simply did not do their homework before buying a rabbit: “The children have lost interest”; “Someone in the family is allergic to it”; “It’s started to bite, kick or scratch”; “The rabbits have started to fight”.
Other avoidable reasons include those related to irresponsible breeding or selling of rabbits, often bought on impulse from pet shops or classified ads: “One of the rabbits had babies and we can’t keep them”; “The rabbit needs too much veterinary treatment”; “The rabbit grew too big for our available accommodation”.
Understanding the rabbit rescue’s position
Those working in rabbit rescues see a lot of unnecessary suffering in rabbits caused by lack of information, impulse buying and bad breeding. So if a rabbit rescue worker rolls their eyes or shakes their head in dismay when asked to rehome a rabbit due to an avoidable reason, please understand that they all too often the ones picking up the pieces left by irresponsible breeders and pet stores, and the people who buy from them without first thinking through the implications of owning a rabbit.
Doing what you can
It helps rabbit rescues hugely if you can afford to defray some of the costs involved in rehoming or help in other ways. Many put their own money into the rescues and often have to spend time organising volunteers and fundraising, so whether it is saving and taking in old newspapers, donating unwanted gifts for the tombola or mucking out.