Ensuring you make the correct selection on which rabbit is best for you and your family will mean you will be happy with your new pet and have many enjoyable years together.
The range of rabbit breeds is amazing from the palm sized netherland dwarf to the HUGE continental giant, there are longhaired breeds, long eared breeds, fat breeds, thin breeds, intelligent breeds, active breeds, lazy breeds and cuddly breeds. Every breed has a different personality and many have different care needs, small breeds may look cute but they are usually fast, active and spritely, while the big breeds obviously need lots of space and food. Research your chosen breed and meet and handle as many adults from that breed as you can. If you are unsure as to which breed suits your needs best, I suggest to try out the breed selector click here
And dont forget cross-bred, cross bred rabbits come in even more shapes and colours than the pedigree breeds, they offer a range of personalities and shapes to suit everyone. A cross bred rabbit will combine the traits from the parent breeds, however what you get is a random combination (be they good or bad features).
In most breeds there is a difference between the two genders, bucks (boys) are usually more sociable with people and playful, however when mature they will spray and mount things (including legs), does are more aloof and independent, however they may get moody when they want a litter. Generally we reccomend a boy as a first pet and you can then introduce a doe later on, does are more social and are best housed in pairs/groups).
One or Two?
In general most rabbits like company, however there are some exceptions, but there are some things to consider. If you purchase two rabbits together they will bond with each other more than you, they will also reach their teenage phase at the same time which means that fights and fall outs are more common. My suggestion would be to start with a single rabbit, bond with it yourself when its old enough have it neutered and then look for a friend for it (either an adult or a new baby). PLEASE REMEMBER guinea pigs are NOT suitable companions for rabbits and should NOT be kept together.
NEVER buy a rabbit before 8 weeks, for smaller breeds 10-12 weeks is better, especially if you are travelling a longer distance. Things to remember when buying a baby... size, you cannot tell for sure how big a baby is going to get, or what temperament it will have (all babies are cute and cuddly but what will it be like as an adult) make sure you view its parents and relative to get a better idea on how your bundle of fluff will turn out.
Alternatively you could choose an older rabbit, sometimes rabbits become available as young adults (6 months – 2 years) these rabbits still have lots of life left in them and the benefits are you know exactly what you’re getting, their personalities are set, they may already be litter trained and have already gone through their teenage phase.
Where to Look?
PET SHOPS - the benefits, you can purchase a cheap rabbit the same day with little or no questions asked. The drawbacks, pet shop animals are usually taken from mum too young (in order to get them in store by 8 weeks, sometimes they are sold even younger than this), they are usually farmed on mass (in puppy mill like situations) while they may represent 'purebred' breeds they will not be healthy, often inbred with no though to the genetic problems. They are unhandled and often timid and stressed after a frightening start to life, with more moves and changes of feed than is safe for a young rabbit. So all in all i would not reccomend looking to a pet shop for your new bun, responsible owners do not mind paying the little bit extra and waiting a little bit longer for a more suitable rabbit.
RESCUES - the benefits, you are giving a rabbit a second chance, the animals will usually be in foster homes with people who can tell you exactly what their personalities are like. They are often already bonded and speyed/neutered, however rescues also regulary get baby rabbits in as well. The drawbacks - most animals in rescues origionate from the above pet shop rabbits so come with the same problems that they may develop, however this time instead of adding to the problem of mass farmed rabbits you are helping them. Some of the rabbits in rescues have 'hidden' issues from their previous lives and are not suitable for first time owners, check with the rescue to make sure you are adopting a suitable companion. Do your research and visit the rescue first (not all recues are created equal so make sure you are comfortable with your choice.), most rescues require a home check and lots of questions before rehoming so be prepared for this. A rescue rabbit is the best choice in most cases.
BREEDERS - the benefits, you will get to meet the parents of your rabbits, see your rabbit as a youngster and collect it when ready to go home, the breeder will offer all the support and advice you need throughout the rabbits life. Most breeders focus on producing friendly well handled and socialized babies that are bred to be free from genetic problems (as far as is possible without the genetic testing available to dogs and cats). The drawbacks are finding a good breeder, there are so many people taking up breeding to make money (which if done correctly is impossible) choose a breeder that keeps the breed you are interested in, has a good knowledge base and is always happy and eager to talk to you, visit the breeder and meet the propective parents, prices for rabbits will vary from breeder to breeder (noting that the most expensive prices doesnt necicarily get you the best rabbit) and each breeder will provide a different starter pack with their rabbits, if you cannot find what you are looking for in a rescue, a breeder is the best choice for you, or if you are looking for a specific breed with the classic breed traits these will be found through a breeder.