Fish, Rabbits or Birds

Buying a Fish, Bird or Rabbit online: what you need to know

What to know before you buy:

All need five things to be healthy and happy. During the span of your pet's life, you should be able to provide for the following five needs:

  1. A suitable living environment
  2. An acceptable diet
  3. Ability to act according to natural behaviour
  4. Companionship if necessary
  5. To be healthy and protected from pain, injury or disease
IPAAG Tips for Buying a Fish

If you decide to buy fish, IPAAG recommends the following:

  • Good water quality is essential. Getting the water quality right in your aquarium is one of the most important factors in keeping fish healthy. This means finding out how many fish your aquarium can support, as well as researching equipment such as filters and air pumps. Seek advice from an experienced aquarist to establish your aquarium. Advice is also available from books, websites and specialist shops.
  • Tap water should always be treated before being added to an aquarium, as chlorine is harmful to fish.
  • Ensure you buy from someone who has experience in keeping fish.
  • Ensure that the fish you buy are healthy and free from any sign of injury or disease.
  • Ensure you provide adequate facilities to transport your fish home and ensure water temperatures are the same when transferring them to their new environment.
  • If any paperwork is unavailable and has to be sent on, obtain a written commitment as to when it will be delivered.
  • Never over-stock your aquarium.
  • If different species are to be mixed, ensure that they have compatible environmental requirements and will not fight.
  • Remember, fish require specialist veterinary care which could involve referral to a specialist and be expensive.
IPAAG Tips for Buying a Rabbit

Did you know Rabbits can live between 7 and 10 years or longer?

IPAAG Top Tips
  • Ensure your rabbits have a large hutch with constant access to a secure run that is large enough to allow them to run and stretch up fully on their hind legs.
  • A lot of rabbits are fed an incorrect diet – hay and grass are the most important parts of their diet, as they ensure good dental and digestive health.
  • As well as a large exercise run, rabbits should have items and objects that they can explore and interact with. Tunnels, boxes and sand pits filled with child-friendly sand or earth allow rabbits to hide and dig.
  • Rabbits are highly social animals, yet nearly 7 out of 10 pet rabbits live alone. A neutered male with a neutered female is usually a good combination. Please don’t keep a solitary rabbit in a hutch – this does not meet many of the fundamental needs of the species and results in a bored and distressed animal.
  • Rabbits should be vaccinated, just like cats and dogs. They need protection from myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)
Living Outdoors

Two or more Rabbits provided they are neutered to prevent fighting and breeding, can live in a permanent enclosure in the garden with suitable shelter, or share a hutch at night with daily access to a large, secure exercise run. A large wooden Wendy house with a secure run attached is a great way of providing for the rabbit’s needs.

Living Indoors

Rabbits can be trained to use a litter tray and live indoors. However, even after training and “bunnyproofing” some wear and tear on furnishings and pet hair, is inevitable.

If you decide to buy a new Rabbit, IPAAG recommends the following:

  • Please consider contacting your local animal rescue/rehoming centre.
  • Never buy a Rabbit solely as pets for a child. Rabbits are rarely cuddly and may bite and scratch if they feel frightened or insecure.
  • Make sure any rabbits you buy are lively, alert and not showing any signs of illness or injury.
  • If rabbits have been carefully and gently handled from a young age they are more likely to be comfortable with handling as they grow older.
  • Consider the cost of veterinary care – vaccinations, neutering and unexpected illnesses or injuries are all things to consider and remember you will need to make provisions for care whilst you’re away on holiday.
  • “Starter kits” are only temporary homes for young rabbits. As your rabbit grows, be prepared to buy or build suitable accommodation – this may cost more than €100.
  • Your rabbit will need regular supplies of quality food, hay and bedding.
IPAAG Tips for Buying a Bird

IPAAG recommends you do adequate research before buying a bird, to ensure you can provide for its needs. Some species require special care, and should only be raised by experienced keepers.

There are certain species, such as adult domestic poultry, or pet birds such as budgies or canaries that have relatively simple needs. However, some types of birds advertised online are too young, including chicks or ducklings. Other species shouldn’t be kept by inexperienced owners, such as larger parrots.

Some suggest that it is safer to buy birds from breeders who advertise  in specialist journals. However, be advised that there is no guarantee that those advertising in these journals are any more knowledgeable than those advertising birds on the internet.

IPAAG is against the advertising of poultry reared for human consumption online. By law, birds must be slaughtered in a humane manner. There is no way to guarantee this will happen if birds are sold over the internet.