Who doesn't love bunnies?
The right rabbit for your living situation can make a calm, affectionate, active-but-not-too-active pet. Most rabbits require minimal care, but offer a minimum of eight to ten years of wonderful companionship to their human families. They are the perfect pet to grow up with as a child.
There is a tremendous variety in pet rabbits:
- A Dwarf Netherlands rabbit may weigh just one pound when it is fully mature, fitting into the palm of your hand. Continental Giants usually weigh between 16 and 20 pounds and stretch out to be 3 feet long. There was a Flemish Giant rabbit in the Guinness Book of World Records that weighed 49 pounds and was 4 feet 3 inches long.
- Every rabbit is an individual, but some rabbits are extremely active. Holland Lops, beloved for their floppy ears, are so active they don't want to slow down long enough to be petted. Lionhead rabbits are unusually docile and love being held.
- Rabbits come in a range of colors. There are rabbits that have brown, gray, black, blue, white, chestnut, opal, orange, chinchilla, sand agouti fur, and there are rabbits with brown, blue, and red eyes.
Some bunnies are too big to live indoors full-time, while others are happy living with a single person in an apartment. Some rabbits need constant coat care and regular trips to the groomer, while others require almost no maintenance at all other than feeding, changing the litter box, and petting every day. Some breeds are affectionate with just about everyone, while others tend to have personalities that won't click with every owner.
To help you find the breed that is best for you, we have compiled a list of the 10 best breeds for beginners. One explanatory note: When we mention safety in the description, we are talking about safety for the rabbit, not safety for the owner. Some rabbits are so small they can be seriously injured when they are dropped, so we do not recommend them for small children.
In terms of intelligence, a Dutch rabbit is not your average bunny. They are easy to train and they thrive on affection. They have cute, rounded bodies and eye-catching markings of black, blue, gray, chocolate, or orange with blue tints. Growing to an adult weight of 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 pounds, they are sturdy enough to make a good pet for children.
English Spot Rabbit
Dubbed the Dalmatian of the rabbit world, this breed combines elegant looks with a goofy personality. Black and white combinations are the most common, although they are also available in white with blue, gold, lilac, and tortoise. Weighing 5 to 8 pounds at maturity, these rabbits are safe around small children.
Although they probably originated in the Middle East, not in the Himalayas, Himalayan rabbits have been around for thousands of years. They are famously calm, easy-going, and affectionate rabbits that make great housepets. Himalayas are always white, except for an egg-shaped mark on their nose, colored "boots," and color on their tails. They don't grow very large, just 2-1/2 to 5 pounds at maturity, so they are better suited as pets for children over the age of 6, old enough not to drop them.
Also known as Japanese rabbits, Harlequin rabbits are a great starter pet with unique colors and appealing personalities. Japanese Harlequin rabbits are orange. They can have markings of black, blue, chocolate, or lilac. Magpie Harlequin rabbits have white fur instead of orange, with markings in all of the same colors. All Harlequin rabbits are playfully curious, and love to explore. Growing to a mature weight of 6-1/2 to 9-1/2 pounds, they make safe first pets for young children.
If you are looking for an active rabbit with floppy ears, consider a Holland Lop. These rabbits were bred for disproportionately large ears that hang prominently on the sides of their bodies. Maturing to a weight of 2 to 4 pounds, they are not the best choice of pet for preschool children, but they bring elementary school age children endless delight.
Lionheads get their name from their wooly, fluffy mane. They come in solid black, blue, sable, silver, and lilac silver marten, and in shaded smoke pearl, sable, chocolate, and lilac. As we mentioned earlier, Lionheads are exceptionally affectionate. Because they only weigh 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds as adults, they are happy with indoor living. But they are not a good choice for young children who might not be able to hold them safely.
Mini-Lop rabbits look like a rabbit out of a children's book. They have fluffy fur, rounded bodies, and ears that drape down toward the ground. All Lop rabbits tend to be easy-going and affectionate. Aside from regular ear checks, this breed is very easy to care for. Mini-Lops grow to weigh between 4-1/2 and 6-1/2 pounds.
Mini Rex Rabbit
You will never have to groom a Mini Rex rabbit. In fact, excessive grooming can injure its velvety coat. If you are looking for a rabbit that you will love to pet, a Mini Rex is a great choice. This breed is playful and affectionate, but not overly active. Weighing 3-1.2 to 4-1.2 pounds in adulthood, it can be handled by children of all ages.
Mini Satin Rabbit
Famously cuddly, Mini Satin rabbits are easy to care for and safe around children. Mini Satins are playful, but adapt well to apartment life. They weigh 3-1.2 to 4-1.2 pounds fully grown.
This irresistible bundle of cuteness is a perfect choice for an adult living alone in a small apartment. It has big, round eyes with round chubby cheeks and oh-so-short ears. They come in blue, black, brown, and a broken pattern, and there are white Polish rabbits with either blue or red eyes. Because this breed only weighs 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds when fully mature, they are easily injured if dropped. They are not recommended for young children.
Where to Buy a Pet Rabbit
You can buy a rabbit at a pet shop, but the best way to find exactly the bunny you want is to buy from a member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association. For $30 to $200, depending on the rarity of the breed, you can find a purebred rabbit that has been genetically tested so you can be sure it will be healthy. You will also have a reliable source of information for taking care of your rabbit and having fun with your bunny.
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