New Mexico House Rabbit Society volunteers bring abandoned rabbits into their own homes until permanent homes can be found. Because of the overwhelming number of unwanted rabbits, we are only able to take in rabbits scheduled to be destroyed at animal shelters. Even then, we can only save a few.
If you need to re-home your rabbit, your best hope is to house the rabbit yourself (or board her) and advertise until you find the right home. Advertising is as simple as placing flyers on veterinary and pet supply bulletin boards or via social media. While it is possible to find good homes for rabbits, it takes time, commitment and strategy.
There are two steps to finding homes for rabbits. The first is to prepare the rabbit for adoption. This includes spaying or neutering, litterbox training, socializing, and learning bunny’s health status and personality. The second step is to aggressively seek an ideal home by advertising and screening callers for suitability.
Spaying or neutering makes a rabbit calmer and easier to litterbox train, and thus improves the chance of being adopted as an indoor companion. It also insures that no more unwanted rabbits will be produced after the rabbit leaves your home.
Litterbox training is achieved by fastening a litterbox to the side of the cage in the corner the rabbit uses as a bathroom. Once bunny is using the litterbox, try him in a safe, bunny-proofed room with one or more litterboxes. (“Bunny-proofed’ means a place where items that rabbits find tempting to chew, such as house plants and telephone/electrical cords, have been placed out of reach.) In a matter of days, a neutered rabbit can be advertised as “house-trained.”
The more attention you give your bunny, the more she will show off for prospective adopters. Petting the rabbit (most prefer the top of the head) will teach her to look for affection from humans. Follow up on any health problems with a trip to the vet, so you can tell the new owner what to expect.
When placing ads, state the rabbit’s best features: “neutered,” “house-trained,” “affectionate,” “friendly.” Asking a minimum $25 adoption fee in the ad excludes callers wanting a free meal for their pet reptiles. People willing to commit to owning a rabbit will gladly pay an adoption fee.
To screen people who answer your ad, imagine what kind of home you want for your rabbit, and then stick to your ideal. Engage the caller in a conversation about their past pets to find out what they’re looking for in a pet. Inquire where the rabbit would live (indoors or out) and in what size enclosure. Ask who will be the primary caretaker of the rabbit (should be a responsible adult, not a child). Explain that you are asking these questions because you want the new owner and the rabbit to be happy. Present a realistic picture of what your pet rabbit is like. If you feel a home is not suitable, make an excuse and politely tell the caller that your rabbit doesn’t do well with children, isn’t used to hutch-living, is scared of dogs, doesn’t like being held, etc.
At House Rabbit Society, we look for indoor homes for our rabbits, so that they will enjoy lives that are both safe and social. The rabbit has a roomy enclosure, but is allowed several hours of supervised freedom daily to exercise and explore. How soon a rabbit becomes cage-free depends on how bunny-proofed the home is and on the maturity and personality of the given rabbit. The more involved the guardian is in this process, the more freedom the rabbit can be given. Good luck placing your rabbit!