Buying a new Rabbit

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

Rabbits, like all animals, need five things to be healthy and happy; these are called ‘The Five Freedoms’ or welfare needs.

  1. Environment – a suitable living environment
  2. Diet – a suitable diet
  3. Behaviour – to be able to behave normally
  4. Companionship – to have appropriate companionship
  5. Health – to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

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.


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.

There are many animals sold online for a quick profit and often raised without proper care, love or attention and sold to unsuitable households.  These pets often end up being unwanted, abandoned each year – due to behavioral issues or simply because they are just not the right type of pet for the family.  It is important when getting any new pet that you choose carefully and that it is an informed decision with the entire family.  If you decide to buy a pet online, check the website complies with IPAAG Minimum Standards.

Always consider contacting your local animal rescue/rehoming centre first – to check have they a suitable animal you might offer a home to.

For further information and advice, please see: