Rabbits for Re-homing at CottonTails – if you have an appointment to bring in an unwanted rabbit, please be aware that our vets thoroughly examine all the rabbits that come in to us, and a small number are sadly found to have significant dental disease. In such cases the vets usually make the decision to have the animal put to sleep. This is true also for any animal that has a non-curable disease or has a severe temperament issue that cannot be resolved. Otherwise, all the rabbits that are brought to us are neutered, vaccinated, matched into pairs (if not already matched), and are found suitable new homes. Single male guinea pigs are neutered and matched with females, and all other guinea pigs are re-homed in pairs or as match-ups for lonely other guinea pigs.
If the decision has been made that your rabbit is to be found a new home and you have not been able to re-home him or her through family or friends, your first task will be to locate a good rabbit rescue. This can be done by speaking to your local vets or by going on the internet to see what rescue centres are local to you. Sadly, not all rescues are of high standard, and it is important to find this out to prevent your rabbit being exploited or ill-treated. A good rabbit rescue should neuter and vaccinate all their rabbits and should have appropriate home checking procedures in place to ensure the new home is going to be a caring, knowledgeable and permanent one.
On the basis that you have managed to find a good rescue centre to accept your bunny (not necessarily guaranteed depending on the time of year and how full up they are already), you then need to make arrangements to transport the rabbit safely and with the minimum of stress. For this you will need a pet carrier of suitable size to accommodate the type and number of rabbits concerned. You may be able to borrow one if you don’t own one already. The carrier should be enclosed so that the rabbit feels safe but it should allow for plenty of air to circulate to stop the rabbit becoming too hot. Plastic carriers are ideal, but if you are using the wire mesh type you may have to put a towel over the top, leaving the ends free. Line the carrier with newspaper or a towel, and place hay on top so the rabbit has the choice to nibble during the journey. However, check that the hay is clear of any knots or very long strands, as an active anxious rabbit can end up getting a solid twist of hay stuck securely to its back foot to the extent that it can cut off the circulation or actually cut into the flesh – this may sound far fetched but this actually happened to a rabbit that was brought in here to CottonTails, and the rabbit had a cut on its foot as a result but luckily the journey was less than an hour so no further damage was done. You are best not to use wood shavings in the carrier as it can get into the eyes during a journey so it is advisable best to avoid using this whilst travelling.
Do not attach a water bottle to the front during the journey! This will only result in an empty bottle and a soaking wet rabbit. If the journey is a long one or the weather is hot, stop during the journey and offer water to the rabbit, taking the bottle away again before you move off. Make sure the carrier is secured so that it does not slide about, and give some thought to the position in the car, especially in warm weather to prevent the rabbit from overheating.
It is a good idea to bring some of the food that the rabbit is used to having so that the rescue centre can mix it through with the brand that they use. This helps to prevent digestive upset as the rabbit will be stressed enough with the move, never mind totally changing the diet as well! Write down all the relevant details of the rabbit, such as age, name, vaccination history, neutering status, any special needs, and whether he/she is used to fresh vegetables. All this information will be very helpful to the rescue centre.
Thankfully most rabbits do not seem to mind who looks after them, and although they do get used to certain routines, they are able to adapt quickly to new environments and situations so long as their basic needs are being met (feeling safe, having company, having plenty of room to exercise at will, fed the correct diet, given physical and mental stimulation, and in good health).
Animal rescue centres are always struggling to keep going financially, so it is only fair to give a donation towards the costs involved when you hand over your pet. The donation could be in the form of a sack of food (make sure you buy the brand that they recommend), or a large carrier bag of fresh vegetables.
Once you sign your rabbit over, that is the end of your interest in your pet, and although you may be able to keep in touch with the centre to find out if he or she has been found a home, you will no longer have any say in the future decisions, and it is important to understand that before you embark along this route.
Ultimately it is your decision whether you feel your rabbit is better off with you or whether another home would provide a better quality of life. Just make sure you think the decision through thoroughly and check up on where the rabbit is going. After all, this is the least you can do for your bunny who has likely done nothing wrong but to just be a rabbit!