How to Buy a Healthy Rabbit: A Checklist For Choosing a Physically Fit Bunny

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Vet Examining a Rabbit

If you’re buying a pet bunny from a pet store or a backyard breeder, you need to make sure it is absolutely healthy before bringing it home to your family. Some diseases, including some forms of mange and most parasites can be contagious to humans, especially small children. Consider adopting a bunny from an animal rescue organization, or at the very least, know what to look for when shopping for your rabbit.

Check Out The Bunny’s Head

The first things to look at when shopping for a healthy bunny are the eyes—they should be clear and not runny or congested with a watery discharge. A healthy bunny’s nose should be pink inside and relatively dry. Its nostrils should expand and contract in a steady, even manner unless it is extremely hot, in which case the respiration will be more rapid. If you notice blue discoloration or rapid breathing under mild weather conditions, you may suspect potential heart and lung problems or some sort of infection. If the bunny is sneezing a lot, he may have a contagious disease called “snuffles.” You should avoid a bunny that is sick.

The inside of your bunny’s ears should be soft and clean, with no ear mites or scabs. His teeth should be clean and straight, not bent into a horn shape. If a bunny’s teeth grow too long or are malformed, he may not be able to properly eat solid foods and might have to have his teeth clipped—a terribly painful procedure that only helps the rabbit for a short amount of time, as the teeth continue to grow.

Coat, Belly And Bottom

One of the best indications of a rabbit’s overall health is the shape of its coat. It should be shiny, soft and smooth, with no rough patches, bald spots or standing ends. A bunny’s belly should be fat and round, but if it is hard or bloated, it might be sick or pregnant. Unless you are prepared to take care of a litter, avoid purchasing a pregnant bunny.

The bunny’s bottom should be clean, as rabbits, like cats, are constant groomers. If you see fecal matter on this bottom or in the fur, the bunny might be suffering from diarrhea.

Checking Bunny’s Limbs

Because rabbits are so very fragile, it is extremely easy for them to get fractures or broken bones if dropped or mishandled. Before buying a bunny, watch how it moves across the floor. If you notice that the rabbit seems to be favoring one paw over another, or if it is dragging a leg when it moves, the bunny may have been seriously injured and require expensive medical care.

Whether purchasing your rabbit from a breeder or a pet store or adopting it from a private owner or rescue organization, with a little observation and insight, you can choose a healthy bunny that can remain in your family for years to come.

Image source: Bigstock.com

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