When choosing a pet, or an animal to keep commercially, you should think about choosing rabbits. No one knows when the rabbit was first domesticated, but since then, the rabbit has been a cherished pet as well as the food staple that it has been for millennia.
Rabbits have many uses-from commercial livestock to pets. Depending on the breed, nearly every rabbit can be used for any of the purposes that a rabbit can be used for. It all depends on who is willing to buy the animal. Commercial uses for rabbits include: meat, fur, pets, shows, laboratory use, fertilizer, and earthworms. However, most people who keep rabbits keep one as a pet.
No other animal can be housed in such a small space, or eats such a small amount of food. A pet rabbit can also be trained to do its business in one spot, much like you can train a cat to use a litter box. Many people keep cages in their homes for this purpose. The rabbit to be trained is kept in the cage when the owners are not at home, and then the rabbit is let out into the rest of the house, or a few rooms with waterproof floors when the owners are home. Acquiring your rabbit at a young age is best when trying to housebreak it. Even a rabbit kept only in its cage will usually only do its business in one space in the cage.
As a commercial animal, a rabbit is also a great choice. The most common and oldest commercial uses for a rabbit are meat and fur production. Any rabbit can be used for meat, but only the largest rabbit breeds are used for meat. Fur buyers prefer buying the white rabbit pelts, as they are the easiest to dye. Dyed rabbit furs are used for novelty items, fur in clothing, especially in the place of expensive exotic furs, and for some toys. The rabbit is a source of high quality meat at a higher nutritional value than all other types of livestock meat, including chicken and beef, at a fraction of the expense of beef. When butchering the rabbit, no more than 15% of its weight is lost when not using the fur as well. It only takes 4 pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat, much less than most other animals. Each doe can have 4-6 litters of 6-8 rabbits each year, for a total of 24-48 rabbits every year, and you only need one buck to service every ten breeding does you have.
A more recent use for rabbits is in the laboratory. Scientists developing medicines and treatments use rabbits in one of the stages of teasting. Over 600,000 rabbits are used annually in laboratories, which require young, parasite free rabbits at certain weights and certain sizes. Despite the market, this is not the eventual aim of most hobbyists. Usually, only the largest of commercial rabbitries sell their rabbits to laboratories.
Even the feces of rabbits can be used commercially. A rabbit’s manuer is higher in nitrogen than that of any other livestock animal. The manuer is also good for growing earthworms in, as they turn the manuer into a safe, organic potting soil. You can also sell the earthworms themselves, usually for fishing bait. If you decide to raise earthworms, get the guidelines for raising them, as well as having the guidelines for raising rabbits.
Of course, you can always sell your rabbits for pets. One way of doing this is to offer as an option complete rabbit cages that have the feeder, water bottle, and enough food for a week’s time so that the new owners of the pet rabbit do not have to make the trip to the store immediately.
If you do choose to raise rabbits, either commercially or as a pet, you need to know how to take care of the rabbits, what to feed them, diseases they can get, etc. One of the easiest ways to learn rabbitry is to buy one of the many rabbit books out there-or check one out at your library. The book should tell you everything you need to know about rabbits in general, as well as some information about breeds. To get information about specific breeds, you should subscribe to a publication about that breed, or join a club concerning that breed.
Rabbits can be a fun, profitable hobby-or a friend.