Is it a good idea to rescue a meat rabbit?

Help Support RabbitsOnline:

Shinitai

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
10
Reaction score
5
Location
New York
Greetings,

I'd like to hear from those who were more knowledgeable, is it a good idea to rescue a live rabbit that would have otherwise been bought for meat, and raise it as a pet?

Thank you for the input.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Mac189

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
671
Reaction score
857
Location
Montana
Rabbits that were raised for meat can make wonderful pets. I've found that personality in rabbits has very few definitive predictive factors. Some rabbits that were raised and bred as pets don't have a very great temperament for it, just like some meat rabbits. Larger rabbits tend to be more laid back, although there are no guarantees a meat rabbit (which tend to be on the larger side) will be a great pet. The same goes for rabbits that are traditionally pets.

I've found that the best place to get a rabbit tends to be from a rescue where knowledgeable staff or volunteers can match you with a rabbit of any heritage (pet or former meat) that has the attributes you are hoping for in your pet. Getting any pet can be a gamble, but I've found that all rabbits, largely regardless of heritage have attributes that can make them wonderful pets.

There will likely be mixed opinions on this, meeting rabbits and getting to know each rabbit's unique personality will be the best way for you to find out what is best for you. The sweetest, kindest, most gentle rabbit I ever had was bred for meat.
 

JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2012
Messages
9,578
Reaction score
4,507
Location
Utah, , USA
Any rabbit has the potential to be a good companion pet. Breed isn't really a determining factor. What purpose a rabbit is raised for doesn't really play into what kind of pet it could be. That is all determined by the temperament and personality of the individual rabbit. Some are super energetic and active, some are lumps that like to veg and relax, some are very independent, some are snuggle bugs. Every rabbit is different.

What could affect how a rabbit is as a pet is how much interaction it had with people as it grew up, and what type of interaction that was. Very little interaction can make some rabbits very skittish and nervous around people. And a rabbit that has been handled roughly or abused may be very aggressive, scared, or reactive around people. But this isn't necessarily something that comes from the breeder. Neglect and/or abuse, many times come from the pet owners.
 

Shinitai

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
10
Reaction score
5
Location
New York
Any rabbit has the potential to be a good companion pet. Breed isn't really a determining factor. What purpose a rabbit is raised for doesn't really play into what kind of pet it could be. That is all determined by the temperament and personality of the individual rabbit. Some are super energetic and active, some are lumps that like to veg and relax, some are very independent, some are snuggle bugs. Every rabbit is different.

What could affect how a rabbit is as a pet is how much interaction it had with people as it grew up, and what type of interaction that was. Very little interaction can make some rabbits very skittish and nervous around people. And a rabbit that has been handled roughly or abused may be very aggressive, scared, or reactive around people. But this isn't necessarily something that comes from the breeder. Neglect and/or abuse, many times come from the pet owners.
If a rabbit was skittish and nervous around people, would it still be possible to slowly get to bond?
 

JBun

Jenny - Health & Wellness Mod
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Sep 10, 2012
Messages
9,578
Reaction score
4,507
Location
Utah, , USA
It is certainly possible. But then again, it all depends on the individual rabbit on how that process will go. Some can come around almost immediately, some will take months of gentle patient work, and some can take years to build that trust with.

Building trust with rabbits is all about understanding their body language, because if you don't understand how they communicate then you'll misinterpret what's going on. And patience, lots and lots of patience.

Here are some good sites to start to understand the process.


 

Preitler

Loony bunny guy
Joined
Jul 19, 2015
Messages
1,660
Reaction score
1,304
Location
Austria
Well, the first question is if you really want to keep a rabbit and are aware what's assciated with it, where it comes from is second. Just getting one to "rescue" it is not a good motivation to last you for 10+ years.

Meat breeds can be quite calm, stress resistant and healthy animals, working with skittish, sickly animals is just no fun, and when breeding for meat it's easy to keep the better ones as breeding stock. But it depends on the breeder and line how their characters are. A lot of behaviour is genetic, so what it looks like once one got used to you might differ from rabbit to rabbit, for example, one of my retired does, 7yo, simply doesn't like to be touched, she isn't skittish or so, but that's just in her (and in her daughter too, to some extent).

What I like is the size - mine are 8-10lbs rabbits, not easy to accidentially step on them, rather easy to find, safe from cats.
 

TreasuredFriend

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2006
Messages
2,109
Reaction score
307
Location
Kindness Matters - Waukesha, WI, ,
An abused agouti boy who came into our home was terrified of hands approaching his face. He trembled in fear and retreated to a corner scared of what would happen next. He gradually warmed up to being held, and loved on, and became a huge docile cuddler. He was neutered at age 4, and became the sweetest love puddle and a bondmate to an agouti female in our home.

That said, we helped an abandoned Californian (with ear tattoo, and nasty internal parasites, and talon wounds in his back) find a forever home. The adopter recently posted a pic of her boy snuggling with bondmate rex. Takes Time and trust. All rabbits hope for understanding humans, someone to love them -- not treat them as objects.
 

TreasuredFriend

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2006
Messages
2,109
Reaction score
307
Location
Kindness Matters - Waukesha, WI, ,
Patience and understanding. Excellent links by JBun to help with building a relationship. All rabbits prefer to be understood, treated well, and not subjected to a "flesh" object.

My mind goes back to the baby himalayans my friend saw at a reptile shop who were moments away from being eaten alive. They would've welcomed the capability and lifesaving actions of a human to embrace their personalities and live into their senior years, loved and understood.
 

Attachments

Mac189

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
671
Reaction score
857
Location
Montana
It's also not the worst thing in the world if your rabbit never becomes one of those super-cuddly, love-all-the-time rabbits. Those rabbits are awesome too. My rabbits treat me more like friendly roommates than the center of the universe and we have the most wonderful life together

Willa came from a place that was very irresponsible with their rabbit care. She had no formal socialization beyond being mishandled by children when I got her at about five months old and many of her siblings did not survive to find new homes. Willa does not love being picked up and really only enjoys it when she asks for it. She does not always want to be petted. And that's okay.

I love her so much, I wouldn't want her any other way. I personally prefer adopting adult rabbits because I get to know them for who they are rather than try to shape them into who I want them to be. Finally gaining Willa's trust so rewarding, especially once I got to learn what a total brat she became once she learned that I wasn't scary. Bonding can take you very, very far, but understanding that a rabbit will have its idiosyncrasies is just as important. Shape your expectations to the rabbit you have (or will have) rather than what you want rabbits to be. @Shinitai , I think you're asking a lot of good questions and doing a lot of solid research. I believe you will find a rabbit who you will love very much when you decide that you are ready to get one, regardless of its past.
 

Shinitai

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
10
Reaction score
5
Location
New York
Just getting one to "rescue" it is not a good motivation to last you for 10+ years.
Yes, I should have made this more clear. By asking whether it was a good idea to rescue from a butcher/meat breeder, I meant whether it was a good idea to do that as opposed to rescuing from a shelter.
 

Mac189

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
671
Reaction score
857
Location
Montana
Yes, I should have made this more clear. By asking whether it was a good idea to rescue from a butcher/meat breeder, I meant whether it was a good idea to do that as opposed to rescuing from a shelter.
I don't think you necessarily have to settle one way or another. Lots of rabbits intended for darker fates end up at shelters and rescues, so if adopting a rabbit who is less traditionally desirable (such as a rabbit raised for meat) is important to you, you could still operate through a shelter. Another point that can be taken into account is putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak. While buying a rabbit intended for meat does change the fate of that one rabbit, you are still paying money to the person who will continue to breed rabbits for meat as long as it continues to profit. Paying an adoption fee to a shelter will help future rabbits be placed in loving homes and help the rescue to continue what they do. It is of course your choice with how you want to proceed.
You are always welcome to message me to talk rabbits, I've had a little bit of everything (except dwarves, they're cute as they come, but all of my rabbits turn out to be giants for some reason :) )
 

Preitler

Loony bunny guy
Joined
Jul 19, 2015
Messages
1,660
Reaction score
1,304
Location
Austria
Yes, I should have made this more clear. By asking whether it was a good idea to rescue from a butcher/meat breeder, I meant whether it was a good idea to do that as opposed to rescuing from a shelter.
As I see it, it totally depends on with what you feel better.

If you have both options, some points that cross my mind: Many rabbits in shelters will already be neutered, so that is off your mind. Sure, meat rabbits will be killed, but so might rabbits in some shelters when space runs out. Taking a rabbit from a shelter is taking a load from other peoples shoulders, a meat breeder will be happy to sell a rabbit too, but all Karma summed up it's not exactly the same in my imagination.
Really depends on the shelters or breeders involved, I've heard of some state conditions to comply with that would be unacceptable for me.

I would look around at both options, visit if possible, and then trust my gut feeling.
 
Last edited:

Nancy McClelland

Larry
Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2007
Messages
16,855
Reaction score
1,687
Location
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
One of our best was a White NZ. When I was young, late stone age, my Dad got five NZ's to raise for eating. After a couple of weeks they were all pets and everyone passed of natural causes brought on by extreme age. Guess they were "meet" rabbits.
 
Top