Rabbit Raiser Rookie Mistakes

Rookie Mistakes by Rabbit Raisers, by their own admissions. Rabbit afficionados! See what others have regretted doing (or not doing), and then you can make informed decisions!

These so-called rookie mistakes are grouped into categories; click one of these links to hop down to the topic of your choice:

PLEASE NOTE: Education is our forte, not criticism!
We at Raising Rabbits are not here to shame or humiliate anyone! Because whether one admits it or not, no one is perfect, and almost ALL of us have done various versions of the "mistakes" listed below. By living and learning, we can each improve outcomes for both humans and rabbits alike. 

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Have You Made Any of These Rookie Rabbit Mistakes?

Rookie Mistakes: Timing

  • Melanie: Not building the hutches before we got the rabbits.

  • Candice: I'm still a rookie, but my first and biggest rookie mistake so far is looking for bunnies before hubby finished the hutch.

Who would have thought that having cages ready ahead of time would be so convenient! 

Rookie Mistakes with Cages and Hutches

  • MJ: Buying hutches instead of hanging cages, which I love. Easy cleaning. 
  • Rose: Buying hutches instead of wire cages.
  • Drucilla: Buying wood hutches instead of wire cages!
  • Candice: Building a hutch instead of hung cages.
  • Jessie: Not just building wire cages
  • Abby: I started out keeping rabbits in wood hutches with chicken wire (enough said)...

  • Clint: Cheap cages. 
  • Patrick: Cheap cages.

  • Tania: Converted a playground into a hutch which had the ground as a floor. The problem is that I didn’t protect them from predators that dig.

  • Jessica: Not putting babysaver wire on cages or a baby scraper on boxes.

To recap: All-wire cages are better than wood rabbit hutches for a variety of reasons. (Free wire cage plans here!) Cheap cages will cost you more in the long run. You CAN save a considerable bit of money by building your own wire cages and PVC hutch frames. And if you use babysaver wire in your cage construction, especially for the doe cages, you'll prevent a significant number of bunny losses.

And, never underestimate the will of a predator and its capacity to break into your cages or colony and dine on your rabbits. 

Rookie Mistakes: Housing Style and Population Density

  • Anne: I built a shed thinking I would line both walls with cages. That was way too much rabbitness in a confined space. Ended up with snuffles.

  • Ray: Not having my setup be exactly as I wanted which is why I’m waiting to restart until I have it just the way I want it. This way if I get sick or something comes up it isn’t a hardship for someone else to step in and help me out!

  • Lorena: Not making sure I had enough space for how fast they reproduced. I started off just doing colony style. Now I do a mix of colony and hutches. This has helped in controlling how many I have at one time, lol...

Recap: Understanding rabbit health needs will go a long way to figuring out how to set up your rabbitry and cages.

Ray has already made a few unspecified choices he felt were regrettable, guessing by his words above. It is smart of him to now make his new plans ahead of time and avoid the past glitches.

And what do you know; rabbits breed like rabbits! Lorena has now figured out a housing combo that works for her.  

Rookie Mistakes: Rabbit Quality

  • Rose: Not buying pedigreed stock to begin with.
  • Anne: Low quality starter stock.
  • Mindy: Starting with cheap stock because it’s what I could find at the time.
  • Kirsten: Cheap stock. Best to go with better quality even if expensive. Although I will not buy a proven doe over the age of one-year-old.

  • Jess: Not educating myself enough and buying crap, non-pedigreed stock. I was breeding garbage to get garbage basically, lol. (I have been showing and breeding for 6 years, am very knowledgeable, and win with my own animals, now.)
  • Mora: Not investing in quality stock from a reputable breeder who keeps good records and culls hard. I have a great herd now, but I seriously cannot stress this enough for those just starting out.

  • Braden: Buying before I went to a show.
  • Jamie: Buying rabbits without knowledge of what it is to show, and buying for color because I love them all! Oh and my first rabbits were mini rex that were not mini rex, at least not to the Standard of Perfection.

On the other hand....

  • Theresa: Thinking pedigreed rabbits were better than non pedigreed. Spent a lot of money on rabbits that wouldn’t lift and when they finally did, worst moms ever. Not saying all pedigreed rabbits are bad. Just saying a piece of paper does not make a rabbit a good rabbit. Learn about type and don’t just base your decision on a piece of paper.

Recap: Get educated about the hobby/sport of raising and showing rabbits. Purchase rabbits at the outset that will suit your intended purposes (whether meat, show, pet, wool, pelts, therapy), instead of settling for whatever you can find at the beginning. Pedigrees ARE good, but ensure that the rabbit's quality matches that piece of paper that comes with it.

And pray that the breeder you are dealing with is an honest one.... 

Rookie Mistakes: Believing Lying Breeders

  • Bonnie: Buying some lovely blue Americans from a well known breeder who sneezed while in the back of his car before I bought them. That’s right folks. Snuffles. Spread to the rest of my rabbits and I had to start over. I was new, he was well known as one of the top American breeders. Now if it’s suspicious I drop it like it’s hot.

  • Sharon: Buying does that were older than I was told, and must have been bred hard.

Breeders. I was once at the wrong end of a less than honest breeder. It was hurtful. The devil is a liar and the father of lies according to the Good Book (John 8:44). Why would one lower oneself to act like the devil does?? The best way to sabotage the hobby of raising rabbits and stab a fellow rabbit owner in the back is to LIE about one's rabbits in order to turn fraud into a dollar. Please don't do it, my friends.

Rookie Mistakes with Rabbit Care

  • Allison: My biggest and worst mistake was puttin' the buck in with my doe. She kicked his a** all over the pen!! And scared the crap outta him so bad he became non-breedable. Females are ferociously territorial. ALWAYS bring the doe to the buck!

  • Jon: Over-feeding the breeder rabbits.
  • Theresa: Not knowing that the 3 month old rabbit that I bought could possibly be pregnant since she was still caged with her brother and sisters. I thought they said a rabbit couldn’t breed until 5-6 months old. Not true. I don’t breed my rabbits until 5 or 6 months old but a rabbit can certainly get pregnant at 3 months. Not knowing she was pregnant, I did not have a nesting box for her and she had her babies on the wire and they fell through to the ground. I didn’t have baby saver around the edges of her cage. I didn’t even know what babysaver wire was.

  • Vicki: Didn’t quarantine my first bunch I bought at an auction. I ended up losing all my rabbits – the new auction purchases and all the rabbits in the same shed I put them in.
  • Summer: Not properly checking on kits for fear of upsetting the mother. Had one lose a leg because it had gotten twisted in the nest fur and hay. This could have easily been avoided had I caught it, but I was afraid to take them out to get a good look. Then, I tried to raise the 3 legged kit. Had to cull eventually, but should have done it immediately.

  • Laquaya: Sexing new pets. I goofed up at least twice on sexing rabbits in the beginning, and once I drove a rabbit 5 hours one way not realizing I had grabbed the wrong one. Ugh.

  • Lee: Trying to run colonies and feed stuff other than pellets.

  • Teddy: Using outside hay racks with a hole to the inside. Kits climbed up and out of the cage. 

  • Angie: Trying to save every single rabbit.

  • Alexander: Switching feed. I ran out of my usual feed and bought another brand. It caused bloat in some of my grow-outs; I lost 3 or 4 of them.
  • Kim: Starting out with more than a trio, lol.

  • Krystal: Sending a buck back to help a breeder who lost nearly everything due to calicivirus, and not keeping any of his sons for backup is my big rookie mistake!!

  • Jamie: Not realizing you could get a beautiful litter of rabbits from a buck that does not have a "fall off."

  • Emily: Thinking I’d just have 4 rabbits... Getting attached to the babies.

  • Allysha: Believing North American cottontails could breed with domestic rabbits when I first started.

  • Stephanie: Biggest “mistake” I probably made was trying to do too many breeds. I didn’t have the cage space or the money to do all of them well and that was frustrating. I just have two breeds now. My primary is Rex and I have a few Palominos. 

    I’ve bought a lot of rabbits I ended up not needing, but I learned something with all of them.

    I’ve held on to rabbits way too long before deciding to cull, but that too was educational.
  • Kymberli: Underestimating my inner gut that dispatching would not just be hard but very hard. Thought it’d become easier and robotic. I can do it, but I’ve minimized in other ways, I still have too many rabbits, and I prefer selling instead of harvesting. 

  • Amanda: Using the wrong tool to dispatch a rabbit. It was horrible.

  • Eric: Underestimating just how much manure they produce.

These are all things that experience teaches over time. New rabbit breeders will find it easiest to start with a pair or a trio - 2 does and a buck - and begin learning rabbit care and husbandry on a small scale until they have gained solid experience and wisdom.

New pet rabbit owners can check out our comprehensive pet rabbit section on Raising Rabbits.

For the record, sexing rabbits is easy to do but also notoriously easy to misinterpret. Check out our sexing rabbits page for some great pictorial guidance. 

Rookie Mistakes: Accidental Killings

  • Abby: I de-wormed a litter of 3-week-old kits as “prevention” -- it killed them all. Another time I bred my very favorite rabbit during summer. She overheated and died.

  • Rose: Don’t use carefresh bedding like I did. My ignorance killed 4 kits because I thought it would be okay.

  • Michael: My family raised rabbits commercially when I was growing up. We had probably 50 or so that we put in a very large greenhouse on one end to help heat the greenhouse at night. We had vents on one end and would open the door and prop it open during the day and the breeze would blow through. Either from a crappy prop job or high winds the door blew shut (the vents were just flop vents so if no breeze they stayed closed). That afternoon after returning home we found most all those rabbits dead due to build up of ammonia levels. It was tragic. We kept around 800 rabbits at the time so not a substantial percentage loss but it hurt none the less.

  • Summer: Underestimating small predators like rats.

  • Brieanna: I culled one of my favorite rabbits because I thought she had megacolon and did not realize until weeks later she was just dehydrated and her bottle was clogged.

  • Makayla: I don’t know what I could have done to prevent it but my favorite doe liked to lay under her water bottle and one humid morning I went out and she had fly strike so back on her hind end that she could barely walk, the maggots had gotten so deep into her tissue that I had to cull her. 

Every owner of every animal species kept by man experiences the untimely death of animals on occasion. I get a sense that these rabbit owners are still smarting over these very final rookie mistakes. It never feels good when we lose an animal and later determine it might have been avoidable. 

Yes, it hurts, but we learn for next time, and grow by continuing to press forward in our rabbit-raising enterprises. 

Rookie Mistakes: Selling Rabbits

  • Abby: Not taking deposits on rabbits. I held many a rabbit for days with no responses… You learn a lot in this hobby.

Can Raising-Rabbits Help Prevent Rookie Mistakes?

I think probably yes!

We have created a whole line-up of PDF e-books at World of Raising Rabbits.

PLUS, the very well received paperback or Kindle book, Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, will answer just about any question you may have. I sure wished I had such a resource back when I was first learning how to raise rabbits. I could have avoided my own rookie mistakes.

Lastly, the Raising-Rabbits website is literally chock full of absolutely FREE rabbit raising information. You can peruse it freely, and find the answers you need without spending a dime. We are very happy to help anyone with caring for their rabbits successfully.

Enjoy your rabbits!

KV:  2737 2720 1006

We've All Made Rookie Mistakes With Our Rabbits.
Care To Share Your Story So Others Can Also Gain Knowledge??

We've all made a rookie mistake or two with our rabbit keeping. Thankfully, we can learn from our mistakes, as well as from the mistakes of others. Care to share your story? What did you learn? What are you doing differently now, if anything?

And we'd love to see photos if you have them! You can include up to 4.

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