Why wait until the bunny is 8 weeks old before you buy it – or sell it?
There are several reasons why you should not buy – or sell – a rabbit before it is eight weeks old. Any member of the West Australian Rabbit Council is bound by our Code of Ethics not to sell bunnies before they are eight weeks old.
A rabbit’s stomach operates at a low pH once it is on solid food. The few weeks between switching from milk to solid food involves the baby rabbit (kitten) eating some of its mother’s caecal pellets to obtain its own supply of gut bacteria. This bacteria has to develop to proper levels and move the gut environment from neutral to low pH. This takes time to mature, and between 4-8 weeks, the gut pH is often unstable. Hence diarrhoea from stress, sudden changes in diet or too high a level of moisture foods like lettuce can occur. Past 8 weeks they are usually weaned and the gut is more stable in what it can cope with.
Young rabbits have a poor immune system response. This means they do not fight infections as well as an adult can and so get sick very quickly and easily. Their lack of stamina then means treatment is hard to do and they often die at this stage if stressed. After 8 weeks the immune system can then cope much better to diseases that they might meet in their new home.
Behavioural damage. The same happens to kittens and puppies who are weaned too early. They can become aggressive or develop annoying habits to compensate for that early insecurity. Bunnies that are weaned late always seem to be more calm and confident.