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Choosing a healthy, happy rabbit
from the British Rabbit Council

Always buy your pet from a British Rabbit Council breeder or a reputable pet shop. Consider giving an older rabbit a good home from a charity such as the RSPCA. Never buy a rabbit which is less than eight weeks old; it is too young to be away from its mother. Check the rabbit over to make sure it is in tip top health - the following points will help you:

EYES: Should be bright and clear and not runny or closing.

NOSE: Check the nose is clean with no dried deposits or mucus present.

CHEST: Breathing should be quiet with no 'rattles' if you gently put your ear against the rabbit's chest. Take care not to startle the rabbit when you do this!

EARS: The rabbit's ears should be clean inside.

BODY: Rabbits should be 'well fleshed'; the backbone should not be prominent. Run your hands gently over the rabbit in the direction of the fur and see if the rabbit feels 'nourished'.

COAT: This should be clean and healthy-looking with no tiny white dandruff-like flakes present - unfortunately a sign of mites!

TEETH: The top teeth should slightly overlap the bottom but take care when examining the rabbit's mouth so not to startle him. There should be no sign of decay.

VENT AREA: This is the correct term for a rabbit's bottom! Have a quick look and make sure that it is clean and shows no sign of dried faeces.

ATTITUDE: Spend some time observing the rabbit. He should appear alert, healthy and interested in his surroundings. If he is sitting hunched in a corner or looks distressed (rabbits have similar emotions to ours) all is not well.

If you are buying your rabbit from a British Rabbit Council Member, they will no doubt be pleased to help you examine the rabbit as it is a skill which you will be able to put in good use for many years to come.

Remember, if in doubt refer your query to your vet or call The British Rabbit Council for details of their nearest District Advisor on 01636 676042.

Happy rabbit choosing!!

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