One of the ways to get into rabbit farming, is to produce rabbits for the pet market. This though is a risky business because the pet market in one particular area may become saturated. In the U.S., there are an estimated 5 million rabbits being kept as pets, so demand does exist.
The popularity of pet rabbits is because of their cute fluffy appeal, as well as being cheaper to maintain, when compared to other pets like cats and dogs. Also pet rabbits require less maintenance care than other types of pets too.
There are presently 47 breeds of rabbits recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. To name some, there are the American Chinchilla, the American Sable, the Belgian Hare, the Blanc de Hotot, the Britannia Petite, the Himalayan, the Havana, the Mini Rex, the Satin Angora amongst others.
When choosing a pet rabbit, you must consider and understand a few numbers of factors.
Looks and appearances
Like humans, rabbits differ in looks and appearances. As you may have seen, some may have short ears and some may have long ears. Others may come with short-haired coats and some with long-haired coats that requires constant grooming. The color of rabbits also varies. Some may prefer rabbits in a traditional color like the white Dutch or simple black or brown, whereas others may prefer the Black silver Martin with its fine, dark sable coat.
Sizes and weights
Rabbits come in the following breed sizes: Giant, Large, Medium, Small and Dwarf. Some rabbits may range from a few pounds like the Britannia Petite that weigh about 2 ½ pounds (about 1.1 kg) or the Dwarf Hotot, that weigh about 3 pounds (about 1.4 kg), up to the German Gray Giant with a whooping 23 lbs (10.5 kg).
Aside from the looks of the animals, you would also need to consider the animals temperament. Do you want a rabbit that just stays quiet all day, like the Rex or one that is more active? Like the Mini Lops, the English Spots or even the Belgian Hare.
In rabbit production, a doe (female) that is not spayed can become territorial when she reaches maturity. She may nip at you when reaching for her or her food bowl or water dishes. Some does are non-aggressive and some can become territorial towards everybody, but this is rare. If you do not intend to breed your rabbit and you want a doe, it is best to have her spayed to help reduce the chances that she will protect her den.
Bucks present a different problem altogether. Bucks are not generally aggressive. However, spraying can be a problem. Once he reaches maturity he may start to spray urine everywhere to let the world ready that he is ready for a mate! Again not all bucks will do this, and typically if they do it will only be for a short time. This problem can be eliminated by having the buck neutered.
The environment you plan to keep your rabbit in is also important. Pet rabbits typically should have an indoor pen or cage and a rabbit-safe place to run and exercise, such as an exercise pen, living room or family room. If you don’t plan on letting your pet rabbit stay under the same roof as you do, you could opt to have them live in an easily accessible hutch outside the home. Some pet rabbits live in outside hutches during the day for the benefit of fresh air and natural daylight and are brought inside at night. Before you get a rabbit, the rule of thumb is that you thoroughly investigate and research to know the options available to you. This will help prevent a situation where you procure a rabbit and over a short period of time grow to dislike the animal.
A pet rabbit’s diet typically consists of unlimited timothy-grass, a small amount of pellets, and a small portion of fresh vegetables. They also need unrestricted access to fresh clean water.
Almost all breeds of domesticated rabbits can be adapted as a pet. Pet breeds include Holland Lop, Polish, Dutch, and Mini Lop. Showing rabbits is an excellent youth development tool and is popular as a 4-H animal.
Whilst rabbit farming for pets is an income generator with limited opportunity, a more stable environment can be found if rabbit farming for meat and skins, or using the angora rabbit for its fur.
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