I want a cuddly varmint.
October 15, 2012 6:05 PM   Subscribe

I want a rabbit and I'd like for it to be lethargic, friendly and cuddly, medium-to-large size, not driven to constantly chew cords or bite me, not super sheddy, and litter trainable. And if you know of reputable rabbit breeder near NYC, I'd love to hear about him or her.

Lately I've been yapping with people about rabbits and several of them have mentioned a handful of attributes that I didn't know some bunnies could possess. I assumed they all chew everything, they all bite sometimes, they all shed constantly, they all lay turds everywhere, and they all love to hop all over the place. But now that I've heard there are breeds that cuddle and don't chew and can be potty trained and love to laze around the house all day, I want one! Which breed is best for me? So far, the lops all sound like they come closest to fitting the bill, but perhaps another breed is even more ideal.
posted by HotPatatta to Pets & Animals (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had a lop for just over 10 years and he was... half of what you're looking for. So cute and funny and an enormous personality, but do know that they can live for 10 years.

+ Housebreakable. Yes. I was amazed by his fastidiousness. He was very tidy and I was able to housebreak him in a matter of hours. Eventually he had the run of the house, just like a house cat.
+ No biting. Yep, no biting, as long as I gave him his space. And no scratching as long as I didn't attempt to cuddle him.
+ Hop all over the place. Check! But in a good way. He would chase me around the house and demand treats.

+ Chew everything. Oh lord, there wasn't a book cover, baseboard, or electric cord that escaped from him. Some people say they chew because they are bored. My bunny chewed because that was his mission and the purpose of his soul.
+ Leave turds everywhere. Well, not everywhere. Again, he was super tidy. But enough would escape. I can't eat any food with capers on it.
+ Shed constantly. Yep. He was black and white, so I wore more than my share of grey tweed.

But, you know, ten years. Velvety ears and alfalfa breath. I was devoted to that little creature, moved across the country with him three times. He went through airport security! In my arms! In general, it was like living with a grumpy old man, but oh, it was all worth it to sit with him after work and share sprigs of raw cilantro. But... ten years!

As for breeders, I recommend asking the wonderful people at The Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine. They really know their stuff and might put you in touch with someone who can match you up.
posted by mochapickle at 6:26 PM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Lops definitely chew. Their teeth are constantly growing and they need to chew to keep them short. I had a lop as a house rabbit and she chewed plenty (including furniture legs, molding, and electric cords). House training to a litter box was no problem, though. You may want to check out the adoptable bunnies at your local animal shelter or rabbit rescue. Perhaps they'll know which of their homeless bunnies fit your criteria.
posted by Wordwoman at 6:29 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a rabbit owner of 12 years, I am glad you are asking this question.

What you're asking for is not necessarily impossible by any means, but it's a difficult combination to achieve in a single rabbit.

The chewing thing is unavoidable. Yes, some rabbits chew less than others, but whether your particular rabbit chews less than another you won't know until you own the rabbit. See, rabbits have teeth that never stop growing, so the chewing is what keeps the teeth at reasonable length. You don't want to know what happens when a rabbit doesn't chew enough and his or her teeth get too long.

If you really don't want your stuff chewed on, do not get a rabbit.

There is a myth that lops (floppy ears) are cuddlier and lower key than rabbits with up ears. And it's a myth for a reason. Rabbits are prey animals, and for that reason, many rabbits do not like to be held because it sends them into the OHGODDON'TEATMEPLEASEDON'TEATME mode, which again, isn't to say you couldn't fine the one of twenty rabbits who does like to be held. But if you are expecting a cuddly-wants-to-be-held-all-the-time rabbit, then you really need to adjust your expectations.

I highly recommend you read the Bunny Basics from the Rabbit Network, and even if you are not in their target area, call the warm lines and leave a message about your questions. Someone will give you a call back, and they are very nice people.

But I think you need to do a lot more research on rabbits, and I really don't recommend you get one for a few months, at least, so you can better educate yourself to be the best bunny owner you can be.

Rabbits are awesome, but they are a lot of work --- more work than most people think.
posted by zizzle at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

A far as I know, all rabbits are litter-trainable. That said, they will still drop occasional poops around (partially because they tend to egt caught in the fur a bit). I have a mini lop named Emerson, and he's a real sweety, although not especially cuddly (rabbits are prey animals, after all - but I have known rabbits that would at least chill out happily in laps, even if mine will not). He nips occasionally, but not to hurt you or even as a defense mechanism - it's just that a major way that rabbits explore the world is via their teeth. It doesn't hurt. They do like nibbling wires, though, and you'll need to take that into account should you get a rabbit; trust me on this. It's more for their safety than it is for your benefit.

Rabbits, like other animals, each have their own personalities, and I'm not convinced that this can be determined definitively by breed. In any case, my little bun does shed seasonally, but its really not that big of a deal unless you're allergic or something. A brief brushing twice a day clears things up nicely.

I absolutely love rabbits, and they can be really lovely companions, but do keep in mind that they're social creatures, so even if they don't need to be walked often like dogs, they need more attention than cats. They don't travel especially well, so I've never brought Emerson along on a trip between my home in Boston and my parents' in New York unless I was staying for at least a week, to minimize stress. And if/when they have health issues, the signals can be rather subtle. That's worth taking into account for the inevitable time when you'll need to have someone else look after your little friend while you travel, even for just a few days.
posted by divisjm at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2012

I know people who talk about rabbit breeds having personality, and maybe there is something to it, but I find the differences people describe to be greatly exaggerated. Rabbits weren't historically bred for personality like dogs; larger breeds are generally more chill and smaller ones more skittish, but even that depends a lot on the individual rabbit.

Also, I would not describe most rabbits as "cuddly"; rabbits mostly will not want to be restrained and held and snuggled with (they're prey animals, after all). Mine will sit with me on the floor if i sit or lay down, and sometimes licks my face to wake me up if I'm sleeping somewhere he can get to. He'll sit and be petted for an hour, but he barely tolerates being picked up or hugged.

A younger rabbit will offer more predictability in litter training, but adopting an older rabbit with a stable personality would help you identify the compulsive chewers/biters/poopers. But all will do a bit of all of those things; a well-stocked litter box and chew toys will be necessary for any rabbit you acquire.

If you have a House Rabbit Society chapter nearby, adopting from them would likely mean there is a foster family that can tell you about a particular rabbit's habits before you commit to having her in your home.
posted by substars at 6:31 PM on October 15, 2012

Heres the thing, like dogs or cats, every rabbit is different. Even within a breed, so don't pick out a breed of rabbit expecting that just because they are that breed, they will be exactly those traits. Rabbit's teeth constantly grow their entire life so it is NATURAL that they chew. Tips to keep chewing down are to supply chew toys. You can also train rabbits to stop, mine stops whenever I clap my hands and say a firm NO. But please don't get mad at them for chewing, its natural.

Secondly, rabbits shed once every three or so months. You will get hair just like a dog or cat. Some rabbits, like lion heads, shed way more, some don't shed as much. I have a holland lop who is all white and his hair gets everywhere, especially my black teacher pants. Again this is normal and expected with every rabbit, so possibly consider color choice.

Thirdly, unlike cats or dogs, rabbits are PREY animals. This means big moving things scare them and they get frightened super easily by things like loud noises. Almost always, they tolerate being picked up, but many also hate it and will fight you or run away. My current bun growls at me when I try to pick him up, but he will hop up the pet stairs onto my bed and nudge my hand for pets for at least an hour.

Fourth, rabbits can be potty trained! They can use a cat pan just like a cat. They also eat lots of their poop, but you will find some on your floor every now and then. Its no big deal as their poop is just hard little balls.

My advice is to pick your rabbit by their individual personality, rather than the breed. Every human is different, so is every rabbit. They are wonderful pets and super clean and don't smell. Also super cute :) I love my bun. And I miss my bun that passed away (I got a tattoo of him). If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I LOVE bunnies. And everyone knows it!
posted by fuzzysoft at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2012

Rabbits make lousy pets.
posted by alms at 6:36 PM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Mr. Llama* raised rabbits as a child. 'Do not do it', he says, 'Tragic. They're not friendly. They don't like to be snuggled. They're nervous. They don't like captivity. Best case scenario you get them big and fat and then you feel guilty because you kind of ruined this animal.'

I think, based on a lot of conversations with him about this, you're better off getting a really mellow cat. It's possible--with cats, I think a lot of long hairs really are pretty mellow and snuggly and give you the animal friend experience you want. But based on my conversations with Mr. Llama (I've never personally known any rabbits) I'm going to suggest you might most certainly have a cuddly varmint in your future, just maybe don't get stuck on rabbits.

*Mr. Lllama is very sweet. He is not impatient or judgmental. I would listen to him.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:55 PM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Maybe I need a rat instead.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:10 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Aw. A rat won't love you. It sounds like you want a little cuddle buddy to love you.

Look, I loved my little rabbit. But after he died (on Christmas day, no less -- spent the day on the local from Brooklyn carrying him in a wine box to the UWS, surrounded by churchgoers and tourists in santa hats), I waited about six months and then adopted an elderly rescue dog. She cuddled, she adored me, and she charmed the trousers off everyone she met. She was pretty much everything I wanted my rabbit to be, and she was actually easier to care for. She was more interactive and showed me more sweetness and gratitude than that little bunny ever did. I wouldn't trade my experience with the rabbit, but I'd rescue a dog before I'd chance a rabbit again.
posted by mochapickle at 7:17 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Griphus girlfriend: "I had rabbits as a child. I loved them, but they never really loved me. Mostly, everything terrified them- me, my brothers, the dogs, thunder, cars, my parents, strong winds, any loud noises.... And while they would tollerate being petted, there was no cuddling.

Maybe you'll get super lucky and you'll get a perfectly cuddly, nondistructive, well potty trained bit o bunny... But you might want to revisit what you want in a pet, and if a pet rabbit wil be likely to do it for you. Cats don't look like rabbits, but they fit many more of your desired characteristics."
posted by griphus at 7:20 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm on my second rabbit. One thing to recognize about rabbits is that they're prey animals so they aren't really into snuggling or staying in one place for more than a few minutes at a time. They're kind of like cats in that they want to do their own thing but once in a while, they want your attention and will sit next to you and let you pet them for a while.

Another thing to understand is that since they're prey animals, when they get sick, it's hard to tell so when you can tell that something is wrong, you need to act promptly. It's not hard to take care of them - the short version is that as long as they're eating and pooping normally, they're probably fine but you should learn what to look out for. For example, they are self-cleaning, which is nice but then you know that if they can't clean themselves, they need to see the vet.

If you got a rabbit, you would need to find a vet who deals with rabbits specifically if possible. The vet closest to us calls the rabbit an exotic animal because they just deal with dogs and cats. We have a wonderful vet who is seriously a rabbit expert but he's out of the way. It's nice to go see him though because he knows how to hold her so she's calm and his waiting room is only for rabbits. When we see the other vet, dogs will bark at her in the waiting room and she freaks out.

Again, since they're prey animals, sometimes when they get scared, they play dead. It's scary because they seem like they're dead - her eyes have glazed over and she goes limp - but a few minutes later, she's back to normal. Once when we were trimming her nails, we cut one too short and she started bleeding so she played dead. I was upset but then I was like, hey jerk, I know you're not dead, it would be really hard for you to die from bleeding two drops of blood from your paw.

I've been surprised by how much noise the rabbit can make. She throws her bowl around, chews on her cage, starts digging at random. Since they're social animals, when something is very scary, they start thumping to make a ton of noise so the other rabbits know something bad is happening and they need to get away. It's kind of cute and it's something I had no idea about before I got a rabbit but since they're stupid, they do it at ridiculous times. Once the rabbit started thumping because I turned off all of the lights in the apartment at night. Another time, the rabbit started thumping because my husband was petting her after petting a dog.

The first rabbit was friendlier than the current one but this rabbit is getting friendlier. We had the first rabbit since she was a baby so she trusted us. The current rabbit is a little harder to deal with but she really is getting better. She has bitten me and she's aggressive but again, she's improving - she hasn't bitten me in a while.

Also, the current rabbit is better about pooping in her cage. Neither rabbit peed outside the cage but the first rabbit was pooped a lot outside the cage whereas it seems like this rabbit doesn't poop outside the cage nearly as much. This rabbit also sheds a lot less but it seems like all rabbits go through a period or two during the year where they shed a lot.

Both rabbits chewed on cords. It seemed like the first rabbit chewed less or learned to chew less. Our current rabbit chews on everything - the floors, molding, cords, you name it. They chew because their teeth grow like fingernails so they chew to keep them down so it's a matter of giving them things they can chew on. But we've had to buy countless replacement cords for things.
posted by kat518 at 7:30 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd strongly recommend not getting a rabbit.

Rabbits require a lot of care ( much more than a dog or cat, or other rodents) and for not much reward.

They are extremely destructive (chew cords, baseboards, furniture, carpet, shoes, everything a foot off the ground) , shed everywhere, eat a lot, and are NOT cuddly at all. Seriously they freak out hardcore if you try and do anything besides pet them lightly. They also don't really do anything interesting, they just sit there and don't really interact with you or anything, other than chewing your shit up.

My friend had a Flemish giant and she remarked several times that it wasn't a good decision.

They are very cute though, except when they yawn. Good lord, it's terrifying. Google rabbits yawning.
posted by spatula at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2012

Rats are surprisingly cool, but they will pee on you. Also in the too-much-peeing category: sugar gliders. Never again.

Anyway, I wanted to add to my above response my personal two cents about rabbits: In contrast to what some people here have said, I think rabbits can be very loving and approachable, but you kind of have to interact them them on their terms. People who tell me their rabbits were boring/tragic/mean often kept them outside (which defeats the purpose of having a rabbit unless they're for eating, IMO), or had them as kids and would likely have been happier at that age with a dog they could roughhouse with or whatever.

My rabbit Ivan will sit with me while I mess with the computer, or play my guitar, or read a book, or whatever, and I'm glad to have him around. I think they make great pets for e.g. busy single adults with smallish spaces, and I don't think the rabbits I've had have been appreciably more destructive than cats I've had (though they are certainly capable of wrecking some shit occasionally).
posted by substars at 7:35 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Oh, yeah. Little companion breed dogs can also be litter trained!

Chihuahuas are known to be really great one-person dogs. They can be very lazy and cuddly, though your mileage can very dog to dog."
posted by griphus at 7:40 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Rabbits are very difficult pets to keep. On the other hand, my sister and I have a lop that runs to meet us every time we get near her space and loves being pet and brushed. She still doesn't like being picked up or carried, but she does have a bit of a personality, and she's awfully cute. Plus it's fun to feed her vegetables.

I would probably recommend a small dog to someone wanted a rabbit, though, to be honest. They're more of a space commitment, but not much more, since a happy rabbit needs her space-- and yes, ten years!! If the space/lifespan commitments are greater than you thought, rats are fun.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:17 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

My husband had a dwarf bunny. It was easily potty trained, but still had to be supervised while out and about because it would chew the hell out of everything. This particular bunny liked to be cuddled and often jumped up into my husband's lap to be petted. However, the bunny often landed dead center on his nards much to his dismay. His friend had a much larger bunny that was also quite social. I've seen pictures of said bunny at his friend's parties, contentedly snoozing on a sofa. It was definitely not shy or skittish.

Would you consider a guinea pig? They are also toilet-trainable and they actually "purr" in the cutest way when you pet them. They "talk" to you in squeaks. They alternate between short bursts of frenetic energy and long periods of being fat and lazing around...and eating. Always eating. But guinea pigs should be kept in pairs unless you're home a lot (they get lonely) and two pigs require a very large cage, so that may be a detractor for you.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:45 PM on October 15, 2012

I had a rabbit. Don't get a rabbit.

Have you ever considered a chinchilla? I have a friend with both a rabbit and a chinchilla and the chinchilla is the sweetest, most cuddly soft thing! Rabbit is stupid and mean. However, you can't potty train a chinchilla, but their excrement doesn't smell bad like cat or rabbit excrement does.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:06 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

We had two rabbits, and will never have rabbits again - for all the reasons everyone else has cited.

They can't love you back. They may be able to be litter-trained but they will occasionally just forget everything you've taught them and have to be retrained in a new spot. They destroy everything, and negative reinforcement/positive reinforcement/distractions/etc do not work. There is nothing you can do. We have had to replace baseboards in every room of our house. I have never heard of a rabbit that doesn't chew. They also get sick easily, and are considered an "exotic" pet. In my city of 80,000 there was exactly one vet who would see rabbits. We just put down our elderly dwarf rabbit because she was getting senile in her old age and was attacking people - me, my wife, our friend's kids. Nothing worked against her aggression.

I strongly recommend against getting a rabbit.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:09 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wanted a rabbit, so I borrowed one from a friend for a weekend to try it out. What a lovely cute animal! He played with my cats; the cats loved him and really liked playing hide and seek. The cats were not interested in hurting Buns. He was super sweet and affectionate; very affectionate! He would give me little kisses and cuddle in my arms. I am not sure why people are saying they are not affectionate. This rabbit was raised from a baby with a lot of love. But they are messy and need a lot of care. That is what convinced me that I do not want a rabbit. Rats are wonderful pets. I had rats and they are affectionate and playful. They will chew stuff up too though.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2012

My main purpose in coming here was to suggest going to a shelter instead of a breeder or pet store. Rabbits need to be adopted just as much as dogs and cats, plus you will have the option to know adult rabbits and their formed personality. I have 20 years of rabbit experience, and would have one again in an instant if my current life allowed for pets. I am really surprised by the number of people here who did not get any loving or cuddling from their rabbits. In my family they were all lovers, with the exception of one that we rescued from an abusive situation and was always a bit anxious.

To address your specific points, based on my experience mostly with lops but with some other mutty, cute furballs:
- Chewing happens, but much as you have to baby-proof a house, you also rabbit-proof. There are things you can spray and rub to teach them that cables do not taste good. We never lost anything because it had been chewed through.
- Biting was never a part of our household. This has to do with your rabbit and your relationship with it. I cannot remember ever getting a bite from our rabbits. A scratch, yes, but no bites and never anything serious.
- Shedding is as shedding does. Rabbits have fur. But, they shed a lot less than my cat ever did, and the fur was much more vacuum-able.
- House-training is easy! Nonetheless there may still be little turds sometimes. They are small, hard, and easy to take care of with a kleenex. Nothing as stanky as cat poo, and smooshy like dog poo. More like a sheep or a big gerbil. We never had a urine accident. Please look into acceptable types of litter. The pine litter smells stronly of pine. Clumping cat litter is not acceptable for rabbits (they tend to eat some and it clogs their stomach).

Hopping vs lazing, well, it is an individual personality issue. This is the main reason to check out adult rabbits at shelters or from individuals (e.g. craigslist). Rabbits that we got as youngsters tended to change personality a lot as they grew up, especially the does. We had hoppers and we had lazers. But regardless of the personality, remember that it is normal to have a cage or hutch for a rabbit. If you don't want the bunny roaming free in the house while you're gone, he has a home and a private space of his own. The rabbits were all chill in their homes, which I could never have imagined doing with my cat (who needed at least a full room to enjoy himself).

Goood luck on your decision.
posted by whatzit at 3:32 AM on October 16, 2012

Won't rats chew things too?
posted by amtho at 4:58 AM on October 16, 2012

I have a rabbit. I adore him. We think that his previous owners must have raised him from a baby, and socialized him with humans, as he is the most social bunny my husband has ever seen. (Mr. Needlegrrl had rabbits before.)

Rabbit are prone to GI Stasis - please look that up before getting one. If they get really bad gas, they can stop eating, and die unless you take the right steps/get them to the vet. With Mr. Munch, this means that when he heavily sheds three times a year, I sometimes have to cancel plans because I come home and he's sick, and I have to nurse him with baby gas medicine, and then take him to the vet the next day. (The only sign of this is that he stops eating, and sort of hunches down - if you're not paying attention, you can miss it completely.)

Mr. Munch has become super cuddly - and by super cuddly, I mean that he will come and meet me if he's out 90% of the time, and he will hop up on the chair next to me and let me pet him. Everyone once in a while, he'll hop up on my lap and sit there while I pet him - but we've had him for 6 years, and he's just started doing this.

He chews a lot of stuff - he just pauses at things, and suddenly, they are chewed. You definitely have to bunny proof everything. He will use his litterbox/cage, but poops everywhere - I don't think it's controllable. He has not peed outside of his cage in a while. Sometimes, he decides he doesn't like where his litterbox is (or that it's too dirty - even though we clean it daily) and starts peeing in a separate part of his cage. The solution to this is to move the litterbox, or get a new one. There is no retraining him.

He does not bite - unless he's too eager to get a treat, in which case he may nibble a bit.

They need a decent size cage, and they need to be allowed to run around, as well - they have to get that exercise.

I'd nth going to the local house rabbit chapter, and check out bunnies there - they are normally very happy to have visitors, and you can see how the bunnies react.
posted by needlegrrl at 5:24 AM on October 16, 2012

Someone else has suggested you get a cat instead, and that was my first thought, too. I am typing this with my little calico draped around my neck like a live fur wrap. Cats are almost instinctively litterbox-trained and obsessively clean, and as long as you scoop out the box regularly there is no smell (not true for rabbits). If you provide the kind of material they like best for scratching, they will do very little damage. Yes, they shed, and the amount varies from cat to cat, same as rabbits. They are intelligent and highly social--ours always want to be where we are, and they talk to us. The Best Cat Ever played a mean game of fetch the rubber ball. I miss him so. And they can be left on their own with food and water for a day or two.

And most of all, it's not hard to find a cuddly cat. Sometimes you just open the cage and they just ooze into your arms or jump up into your lap like you're their long-lost human and that's that. I can understand the appeal of rabbits, but as others have pointed out, they are prey animals and to them you are a big scary primate, whereas cats are furry little domesticated predators who see you as giver of tuna and/or large hairless member of their clan.
posted by tully_monster at 7:02 AM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Rabbits are awesome and excellent and I love my dwarf and I wouldn't trade him for the world.
Some rabbits are cuddlier and some rabbits chew more, it's just down to personality.
You can train them to do more or less of what you want but they won't ever be fully trained like a dog.

My bun is cuddly ON HIS TERMS. He sleeps with me in bed and likes to have his head rubbed and licks my elbows when he is happy, but also sometimes I rub his head and he ain't havin it and he grunts and would nip if I didn't retract.

Dwarfs are famous for being feisty, but if you want a larger rabbit you shouldn't have as much of a problem.

Like puppies, you really have to train them and spend time with them when they are young so that they develop the traits and habits that you want.
Litter training is really easy, but training not to chew is much much harder.
You need to cuddle them all the time and figure out what way of picking them up is the least stressful for them and practice so that they are used to contact.

If you travel a lot, a rabbit might not be for you, since they really need to be fed 2x per day and watched pretty closely to make sure their poop is the right consistency etc since many rabbits (mine included) get really upset when you go away. Getting someone to watch them and know what to look for is not easy, in my experience.

Rabbits are prey so they are basically disposable in the eyes of nature, so when their bodies start messing up, it can be hard to save them. They are delicate, much more so than a dog or cat.

Anyway, rabbits can be worth it (to me they are totally worth it), but they aren't nearly as easy as cats. I think they are easier than dogs, but some might disagree.
Get a big one that is already calm when you meet it and cuddle it a lot and you should be ok.
Let me know if you want any more advice later.
posted by rmless at 7:36 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is like saying you want a dog that never barks, doesn't make messes, is perfect with children, never sheds, and will sleep at your feet from 6-8 pm every evening. Or that you want a child that never whines, shares all the time, and never gets sick.

Not to be harsh, but it sounds like you basically want a stuffed bunny, not a real house rabbit. I have lived with 5 rabbits throughout my life, some from breeders and some from the local House Rabbit Society, and I've *never* met the rabbit you've described. There are some breeds that have general traits, but it doesn't apply to every individual--for example, I have an 8 lb lop who is very affectionate, very cuddly, but this also means she is so clingy that she makes a racket every time I leave the room because she wants me to come back and pet her. Her mate is so laid-back that he won't move off the rug when you're vacuuming--but he also doesn't like to be touched past his ears, and loves to eat fabric (including pulling up said rug). Every individual has a mix of different traits. When you get a pet, you can't pick and choose, and that's even more true for young rabbits (who are just like puppies--sooo cute but hell to live with sometimes).

After considering this, and the fact that rabbits can live 10-12 years, and require a fair amount of time and care, I'd suggest you contact the NYC House Rabbit Society. They may have rabbits in foster care whose current families may be able to tell you about their personalities and habits in much better detail than you would get from most breeders.
posted by epanalepsis at 8:13 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yet another rabbit owner here. I'm pretty confident that my rabbit loves me. She expresses her love exclusively on her own terms, and she loves me because I give her food, pet her when she demands petting, give her more food, and don't subject her to a whole lot of scary manhandling or other shenanigans. It is very stressful when they get sick, but otherwise, I don't find rabbit ownership to be radically different from having a very independent cat who really won't take any shit from me.

Another wrinkle to think about: rabbits are social animals, and for some of them, the best way to prevent them from acting like jerks is to make sure they have a rabbit friend. Bonded rabbit pairs snuggle and groom each other and are basically the cutest goddamn thing you've ever seen! Potential drawbacks of this arrangement, though, include double vet bills, double the turds to shovel, and that the pair will probably love each other more than you, the large primate foodbringer who speaks an unfamiliar language. If you're not interested in having a pair, you should have your friendly local rescue people direct you toward bunnies that have a good chance of being happy solo.

Good advice upthread. Meet some bunnies IRL before proceeding, for sure. Give them time to warm up to you. Maybe get one if you're sure you can go into it with reasonable expectations.
posted by clavicle at 10:09 AM on October 16, 2012

Rabbits are very much a lifestyle decision. When you get a rabbit, you are deciding to be OK with:

-having hay, fur, and rabbit poop on your floor, no matter how often you try and pick it up;

-stepping over baby gates if you want to give your rabbit the proper amount of exercise;

-having stupid-looking rabbit-proofing stuff around your house (I found that clear plexiglas sheets behind desks and tables were better for keeping rabbits and cords from ever meeting than those tubes that you put cords in -- they just find the end of the tube and chew there);

-sourcing hay and greens and regularly acquiring both;

-accepting a bit of wear on your carpets, baseboards, and furniture;

-spending a lot of time laying on the floor, which is how you interact with most rabbits;


-paying for possible frequent trips to an exotic-animal vet.

I love rabbits; I've had several as pets, and I've fostered dozens more. Even having one rabbit in your life means a major lifestyle change, probably even more so than a dog. Some rabbits are cuddly, and some rabbits are lazy "carpet ornaments", and some rabbits don't chew much, and most rabbits can be littertrained (IF they are spayed/neutered and time is taken to train them). I did have one rabbit who met all of your criteria and he was so awesome (RIP Billy, we will always miss you), BUT he was sickly his whole life and we dubbed him the $10,000 Rabbit. So, yeah... cats are way easier and are more likely to meet the criteria you've laid out.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:44 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Guinea pigs! Get a couple of guinea pigs! They're cuddly -- ours are very happy perched on our shoulders or nuzzled up to our necks. They're social animals (which is why I recommend getting a pair, since a single pig will be lonely) and bond very strongly to their humans.

I don't know about littler-training, but I kind of doubt you'd want a guinea pig running around free-range anyway. As for biting and chewing -- they do chew, because they, like rabbits, have open-rooted teeth, and have to chew to keep them filed down. But that's easily managed with a constant supply of timothy hay, plus you can get little compressed-hay cubes and such for them to gnaw.

I've only been bitten hard once, and that was my own fault -- I stuck my hand into the middle of a guinea pig fight, and got chomped. Other than that, they occasionally nip or nibble on our fingers, glasses, hair, shirts, etc.... they're awesome little critters, have tons of personality, and make great little companions.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:43 PM on October 16, 2012

A rat won't love you.

In my experience, they will with all their little hearts.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:47 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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