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Rabbits are very active and playful animals that are also very sociable. They often form close bonds with other rabbits and even their humans. 

If you’re thinking of, or have made the decision to get a rabbit, one way is through adoption. It's the right thing to be and basically, you are giving them a second chance at life. There are a few animal shelters in Singapore that have rabbits available for adoption.  

Animal Shelters

Please note that adoption fees charged by shelters typically cover the cost of initial care and veterinary procedures. For example, the SPCA adoption fee covers mandatory sterilisation, vaccinations, micro-chipping and de-worming.

Nevertheless, adopting a rabbit from a shelter is definitely cheaper than buying from a pet shop. What's more, by adopting, you are giving a second chance at life to an abandoned animal. At times, purebreds are available at shelters for adoptions but generally, most are of no specific breeds.

Ads From Pet Owners

There are plenty of advertisements for the adoption of rabbits online or in print classifieds. Some rabbit owners may post notices on online forums or notice boards at supermarkets or condominium clubhouses, etc.

Sometimes, these pet owners may advertise using the word "adoption" but upon further negotiation, it turns out more to be an outright sale. These pet owners apparently have not sterilised their rabbits and have even allowed them to mate. Do not encourage such irresponsible behaviour by buying bunnies from them.

The only exception whereby you can consider buying a bunny is when the pet owners have sterilised the parent rabbits after the litter was born in order to prevent future accidental mating. You may request to view the certificate of sterilisation in such cases.

Some other rabbit owners, due to their personal circumstances are selling their adult rabbits, while some others are selling or giving away rabbits that they have found. It is advisable to meet up with the rabbit owner at the place where the rabbit resides to see and interact with the rabbit before making any decision.

Pet Farms

Pet farms are usually large establishments in one of the rural (or rather, sub-urban) areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, Lim Chu Kang or Kranji. Generally, they consist of two portions, a storefront and a larger unseen section where breeding animals are kept, although a few do not breed in-house but import the animals.

Storefronts are usually very presentable with display kennels of different breeds of cats and dogs for sale, as well as sales staff to assist if you need help. Prices are generally not cheap (they exist for profit-making just like any business) and the breed quality depends very much on how the breeding parents are chosen and how well they are cared for behind the scenes.

It has been reported by certain animal welfare organisations that at certain pet farms, unscrupulous breeding occurs behind the scenes, animals that are used for breeding may be kept in appalling conditions, while they churn out litter after litter not unlike a production line.

If you really have to buy from a pet farm, please request to view the kennels of the parent cats used for breeding if you feel the need to.

If you are not allowed to view them, no matter what reason is given, it is wise to think twice (or thrice) before buying from them. If the animal is claimed to be imported, ask to see the import documents and overseas breed certification, and make sure they are genuine.

Check with the House Rabbit Society of Singapore or the SPCA and search online for characteristics and pictures of the breed you are intending to buy before actually buying them from pet farms so that you are better able to ascertain the breed quality.

Some of these pet farms may even supply pets to middlemen and/or to your friendly neighbourhood pet store, which makes it even harder for you to know whether the pet you are buying is from an ethical source or not.

After all that has been said, there may be good pet farms around operating on ethical principles, but they are not common. Over the years, a perception has somehow arisen that being ethical and operating a pet farm just doesn't mix.

Pet Shops

Not all pet shops sell pets. Only some display pets for sale, while some others feel it is not ethical to sell pets. Just like pet farms, pet shops sell pets to make a profit like any other business. Therefore, prices are not cheap, breed quality and pet health also needs to be carefully checked.

Some pet shops have good hygiene and healthy pets for sale, while some other pet shops may not have hygienic display kennels.

Let your common sense help you make the judgement. Most pets in pet shops are obtained from either local unregistered breeders (aka: pet farms) or overseas breeders. Pet shops usually would not reveal the pet farm or unregistered breeder that the pet came from.

Some animal welfare advocates advise against buying pets from a pet shop or a pet farm as it perpetuates the cycle of commercial and unethical breeding of pets, while many other pets are abandoned or put down.

If you do shop for pets in a pet stop, check all the pet kennels on display. If a skin problem can be spotted on any of the animals, or even if one kennel is unclean, it is not wise to buy from the pet shop, as there is a chance that communicable diseases can be transmitted within animals in the same pet shop.

However, there are many other diseases that can be contracted by your new pet before the sale, while appearing to have no sign or symptom during the purchase. If you do buy from a pet shop and your new pet falls ill, seek veterinary advice immediately to ensure the disease is contracted before the sale, and then try to claim veterinary fees from the pet shop.

Do not ever be persuaded into an exchange for another pet.

There are definitely pet shops out there selling pets ethically and honestly, in a clean environment. However, the difficulty is in finding them, as they are not common.

*This article was updated on 17 Sept 2020. It first appeared in on  5 Oct 2015.