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Why We Shouldn't Breed Rabbits

by Nancy Pinoli

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People who get rabbits as companions tend to forget that nature created rabbits as a prey species. As a prey species, rabbits will keep producing litter after litter, in order to keep their species alive in the face of extremely high predation in the wild. This is an effective strategy in the wild, but for the domesticated pet rabbit, it is creating a situation of too many unwanted rabbits.

Rabbits reach sexual maturity between three and six months of age. A rabbit differs from other mammals in that the female ovulates after being mounted by a male. This is called induced ovulation. This is the only time she produces an egg. This also means that after a rabbit has given birth, if the male is still present, she can and most likely will become pregnant within 24 hours of giving birth. Just imagine how you would feel if you had a baby and within 24 hours you were pregnant again!

Problems that can occur with rabbit pregnancies are magnified if the rabbit is young when she gives birth. Whether, young or old, the following problems may occur.

She may be confused, and might not build a nest for her babies, causing them to die of exposure. Her milk might not drop, or she just may not feed them, leaving the human caretaker to hand feed them. Mortality for hand fed babies is extremely high. If the father was larger than the mother, she may have difficulty during delivery and the babies may not survive. If the mother was not particularly healthy, she can become sick from the stress of carrying and delivering the babies.

If you choose to allow your rabbit to breed anyway, what do you do with the surviving 4 to 12 babies that she had? Are you prepared to find good, loving homes for all of them. and if you don't, are you willing to care for them Including spay and neuter them) for the next 8-10 years? For every rabbit that is born either by mistake or through planning, a rabbit at an animal shelter will die, because the baby rabbit that you brought into the world will take a home away from a rabbit at the shelter. So before you breed your rabbit, go down to the shelter in your area to see all the other rabbits who desperately need homes.

The best thing that you can do for you bunny, and all rabbits, is spay or neuter. Female rabbits will live longer because you eliminate the possibility of ovarian, uterine, or mammary tumors. Your rabbit will be less aggressive, his or her litterbox habits will be more reliable, and most importantly, it will prevent any unwanted litters. Please, for all rabbits, spread this message.


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