Thank you for considering adoption!
At Rabbit Rescue and Friends, we think that every animal is important and it is our job as owners to give them the best quality of life possible. Not only that, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 outlined several requirements for ensuring minimum standards of welfare, so not keeping any animal (including rabbits and other small furries) correctly is now against the law.
What Do I Need to Do to Adopt from Rabbit Rescue and Friends?
1. Learn about what care and equipment your animals will need.
Start by researching general rabbit care or check our guide to guinea pig care. We recommend checking the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) website here as it's regularly updated. They have also published an article of guinea pigs, which can be found here.
2. Send us a picture of your pet housing, with dimensions. Setups that do not meet the minimum requirements outined below will not be considered.
The RWAF website (linked above) has a wealth of knowledge on the subject of rabbit welfare and we strongly advise all owners to make themselves familiar with their guidelines.
RWAF set a minimum requirement for rabbit housing of 10x6ft of unbroken floor space with a height of at least 3ft (although groups or
larger breeds will require more space). This is now the absolute minimum housing requirement that rescues can adopt out to. At Rabbit Rescue & Friends, we feel that if
the enclosure is the only space the buns have access to, it should be around 10x10ft in size. This can be achieved by attaching a run to a shed via a cat flap or an
aviary with a large hutch (permanently open) inside. Rabbits are active throughout the day and nighttime broken up by periods of napping, so it is important that they have 24/7
access to the full enclosure, which must be fully predator-proof. You can find a few examples of setups we have rehomed to on our rabbit accomodation page here.
Unfortunately for piggies, there are no specifically defined minimum legal requirements for their housing. Frustrastingly for new owners, this means that the requirements often vary between individual rescues. We understand that this may be disheartening for some, but please understand that our standards have been chosen to offer our pigs the best possible future.
Guinea pigs are tropical animals that do not like the cold, so we ask that all outdoor pigs are kept in a shed or garage through the winter. Photos of both summer and winter housing must be provided when making an adoption enquiry for outdoor pigs.
Our minimum housing size for 2 piggies is 6x2ft, with access to a 6x4ft run. If this set-up is outdoors, we ask that these spaces are permanently connected so that the pigs can choose on a daily basis if they prefer to be inside or out. Indoor pigs should also have access to the larger run space for the majority of the day. Larger groups, and some male pairs may need additional space. Check out our guinea pig care page for more details of keeping and housing piggies.
Please note that it is not appropriate for rabbits and guinea pigs to be housed together. This is non-negotiable. Further information can be found here.
Hamster/gerbil minimum housing criteria: 80cm cage with environmental enrichment.
Please make sure to send evidence of appropriate housing as defined above by sending over photos with dimensions when making any adoption enquiries. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.
3.Get your home ready. You will need to provide:
Constant access to clean water and a balanced diet. This means 80% hay, 10% veggies, 5% good quality pellets (not muesli, as this can cause an unbalanced diet) and 5% healthy treats. This will help keep teeth (which grow constantly) and gut in good working order. Burgess Excel (Adult or Junior/Mini), Science Selective and Protexin Profibre are all good quality pellets.
Suitable housing it’s important rabbits have access to somewhere insulated to hide from the elements, if housed outdoors. Hay and straw make great insulation and microwave heat pads are ideal for very cold nights. Provide litter trays with bunny friendly litter ( back2nature, megazorb or care fresh are some recommendations. Please avoid wood based litters or sawdust ). Lots of hay stations and fresh water in a heavy bowl.
Companionship. At Rabbit Rescue and Friends, we don’t rehome rabbits singly, unless you already have a bunny that needs a friend. Even with human company, these highly social species can become extremely stressed when kept alone. Whilst having a companion may cost slightly more in food and produce more droppings, the benefits for your pet far outweigh the disadvantages. Getting your rabbit a neutered friend is the single thing you can do to make the greatest difference to his quality of life. When you adopt with us we ask that when one of your companion pair passes away, you either agree to adopt a new companion for them or return them to us so we can rehome them in a new pair. That way we can help to ensure that each rabbit has the best possible quality of life, even in their older years.
4. Identify a local ‘rabbit-savvy’ vet
Rabbits are regarded as ‘exotic’ and many vets don’t have more than basic knowledge about how to treat them. It is worth finding a vet
who is used to treating rabbits so you know that yours will receive the best and most up to date care. Once you have found one, request prices for the cost of a consultation, vaccinations and
worming/mite treatments. This will help you to plan annual preventative healthcare costs.
Note: Your rabbit needs to be vaccinated against both Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) and a combination vaccine exists for this. However, an additional strain of VHD (RVHD2) has also been identified, and this is also highly contagious and almost always fatal. A vaccine is now available in the UK, so please ask your vet to also discuss with you vaccinating against this strain too.
5. Talk to your family about rabbit care and handling
Adopting rabbits is a big responsibility and as they can live up to 10 years, so it is also a long term commitment. Adults in the house should be primarily responsible for the care of your rabbits and children should always be supervised when interacting with them. Rabbits don’t enjoy being picked up so this should only be done if necessary, and by an adult. We strongly advise that children do not pick rabbits up, as they are challenging to hold securely and have delicate spines that can be broken if held incorrectly or dropped. Finally, rabbits should NEVER be bathed or washed with a shower – soaking of this kind can cause shock and hypothermia. ‘Trancing’ (flipping a rabbit on its’ back) is also a big no – this causes an instinctive ‘play dead’ response where breathing ceases. If breathing fails to restart, this causes a heart attack and is likely to result in death.
6. Learn the signs that your rabbit is unwell.
If a rabbit stops eating or passing droppings (which should be fairly large and golden brown) for more than 12 hours, this is a medical emergency called G.I (gut) Stasis and they need immediate veterinary attention. This is because without constant movement of fibre through the gut, the digestive system stops working and other organs also begin to shut down very quickly. Rabbits can also suffer with dental issues, due to lack of hay in the diet (either in the past or present), so if you think your rabbit is having trouble eating (losing weight, dribbling or dropping food), please ask your vet to take a look. Rabbits are prone to a variety of health issues and are good at hiding illness and pain until it is often too late, so our philosophy is ‘If in doubt, get it checked out!’
7. Consider pet insurance
There are only a handful of companies that provide pet insurance – one of these is Pet Plan, who provide a comprehensive package for rabbits. Whilst it is not essential to have insurance, many owners say that they like the peace of mind that comes with having it. That way, if their rabbit requires treatment for common conditions like sore hocks or life-threatening issues like GI Stasis, they know that treatment is not restricted by lack of finance. Rabbits typically cost around £12 per month to insure (correct Jul 2020). If you decided against insurance, it may be worth putting aside some money each month, to help pay for unexpected vet bills.
All of our rabbits will be neutered and vaccinated (myxo/VHD and VHD2) before leaving for a new home. Please ensure all rabbits are kept up to date with vaccines and make sure any exsisting rabbits are up to date before adopting another.
Our minimum adoption fee is £50 per rabbit. Our average cost for a healthy rabbit is in excess of £90, so we are always grateful for any addional donations. Thank you.
...And that's it! You are now ready to adopt!
Contact us to get the ball rolling.