Advice For Buyers/Sellers
(this page is under construction)
This page is meant to help everyone from new buyers and sellers in the rabbit hobby, pet seekers, or even other breeders. Some of the advice is from personal experience, some good and bad. Also, there will be advice given to us by other experienced breeders, people who have shown and bred rabbits for a long time, breeders with great reputations and even experiences from pet buyers that came to us after their experiences with others did not go too well. The advice ranges from what red flags to be aware of to what to look for in a honest breeder that you should be able to trust.
Definition of red-flag -To identify or draw attention to (a problem or issue to be dealt with)
a warning signal or sign, something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity
Red Flags for Buyers-These are things that should make a person pause before dealing with the potential seller
What Buyers Should Be Aware of
Request for a large deposit on a rabbit from a seller (you should always meet the rabbit in person before deciding to buy, many things can't be seen or felt just by pictures). You don't know if the rabbit's surroundings are free of disease, if the rabbit is being treated well, etc. If they say they won't hold the rabbit, etc. then just move on, your taking a risk that you will send money, locking you in to take a rabbit you may not like in person, or lose the money. Would you adopt a dog or cat before meeting them? Why would you purchase a rabbit without meeting them 1st?
Never buy anything from someone willing to sell babies under 8 weeks, and truthfully 9-12 weeks is better! Gives the bunnies a better chance of transitioning and doing well in their new environments. Also speaks to what the breeder's intentions really are. Someone taking deposits on kits under 8 weeks and is ready to ship them out as soon as they turn 8 weeks is not in this for producing better show quality rabbits, they are only concerned with how fast they can sell rabbits.
When buying show or brood stock ALWAYS ask for the pedigree with the rabbit, never trust that they will "send" it to you, many people, ourselves included will never see the pedigrees. Unless it's a breeder that is known to you, and you have a standing and trusting relationship.
Don't use transportation unless you totally trust the seller and the transporter. I will highly discourage anyone for using services like Speedee, they treat animals like a package, I don't want our rabbits treated this way, and neither should you, and if a breeder/seller is willing to just toss a rabbit into a box and let it go, is that someone you really want to get a rabbit from? What if your rabbit is healthy and spends it's time next to a sick rabbit during transportation? There are a few very trustworthy fellow breeders who also transport, they understand what care the rabbits require and take every insurance that the rabbits are handled properly while in their possession, using anyone less educated and experienced that that, you are inviting a bad situation to develop.
So you want a BEW, Harlequin, Magpie, VM, WE, VC, etc. Ask yourself why? For a pretty pet? Because color projects are not for beginners, we know people that have bred and shown for 20+ years that don't deal with color projects! The good breeders that use some of the unshowable colors for color projects, like harlequin for tri-colors, or VM/VC for BEW projects are pretty far and few in-between, and are also a pretty tight knit community because those color project are hard, and require a lot of work!!! Most likely the ethical breeders working on color projects already know each other, and they aren't interested in allowing a beginner to get their stock after everything they had to sacrifice to perfect it. BEWARE!!! these unshowable colors are a magnet for pet peddlers who use and abuse the rabbits for profit and discard them when they are done using them, please don't encourage this behavior by buying from people like these.
Your looking for 4-H or ARBA show quality rabbits? Ask the breeder if they show their rabbits? How many legs have some of their best rabbits won? Do they know or follow the Standards of Perfection? If they answers is not yes to all of those, keep looking! Always do your homework, ask around if others know them. A established breeder will have their Rabbitry name across much, if not all of their rabbits pedigree. Someone who is just chasing colors to produce rabbits for money, or just doesn't breed or create their own winning rabbits will have rabbits with what we call "scatter" breeding-meaning all random rabbits from different backgrounds and colors. A serous breeder will seek an outcross for various reason, to improve a trait in their own lines or to start a color project, but you should still see a pattern of them using their best rabbits-usually tortes, to improve the overall quality of whatever their project goals are.
What Sellers Should Be Aware of
A person requesting tons of photos-usually just "tire kickers", they can either come see the rabbit in person if they are truly interested, if they make excuses, move on to the next potential buyer. Really only seeing and touching the rabbit in person is the going to give the buyer the full picture & we all know it!
Meeting people-oh how many stories do we hear about people that never show up, etc.,? Just don't offer, maybe if the location is close to your Rabbitry, sure. But if they want the rabbit, they will come, if you are that desperate to sell, maybe rethink what your doing. When your decisions about your Rabbitry become based around what you can sell, who you can sell to, how much money you think you are going to make, your definitely heading down the wrong path, and that path will lead to disasters. We see people all the time jump in and buy a bunch of different breeds and think they can start breeding, selling and making money. It NEVER works out, and we ALWAYS see them selling everything within a year, and the poor rabbits they ran around buying are just worse for the wear.
People asking for unshowable, hard to to breed/find colors. Usually are looking for a way to just get rabbits to breed and make money off of. Do a background check, do they show the rabbits, do they just want a pet? Faith eliminates anyone claiming to be looking for a pet if they ask about color 1st and don't seem interested in personality or what type of rabbit is the best fit for them. Anyone who has not done their research on the breed or homework about the proper care of a rabbit will get weeded out real quick by Faith also, she asks basic questions and if they can't answer them, she tends to shut down the sale.
Knowing the difference between a Good breeder and a not good breeder can be very difficult for a beginner to differentiate. When starting out and when you don't know who is who in a group with thousands of breeders it can be hard, and easy to to be taken in by those who speak the fastest, they are usually the ones who know the least.
How to be a good buyer
- Become a member of the Holland Lop Specialty Club (HLRSC). They will send you a guidebook with great tips from experienced breeders on how they make their herds nationally competitive. Another member benefit is the newsletter “The Hollander” that comes out quarterly and showcases the top breeders in the country and is a great resource to learn who is showing and who is winning all over the country.
- Study your standard BEFORE you go shopping. Facebook is a good resource for finding pics of winning animals, but there is no substitute for studying the standard. Asking the in depth questions is a good way to know if a breeder is an experienced one, or someone whose goal is to produce pet quality animals with pedigrees.
- Be able to identify basic DQs. It is important to be able to recognize things like unrecognized varieties, or health conditions like snuffles or vent disease. It is also vital that you know that certain lines of Hollands are prone to things like eye spots, hook spine, or malocclusion. Being able to recognize those things when you are looking over a rabbit is very important to make sure you are bringing in the genes you want to without those you don't. SO many people say, I did not know that Harlequin/VM, etc. is unshowable-well the standards are right in the book, and on the A.R.B.A website-that means they did no research and just wanted a flashy color, not generally someone we would sell to.
- Check peoples pages/websites/Facebook posts before you buy. On a single comment on a single thread someone may sound like they’ve got all the experience in the world when in reality they are new or just trying to make a quick sale. If you’re trying to build a nationally competitive herd. IT IS very stiff competition! Hollands are hard work & you won't want to put your trust and money into someone's rabbits that come from a breeder who only talks a big game.
- Torts are the BEST! Many people get into Hollands with dreams of having color projects because “torts are too boring” but those people tend to be out in a few years because colors are not nearly as developed as torts and unfortunately all those fun colors are full of people intent to use them as a cash cow. New breeders with colorful dreams often get ripped off many times over by those unscrupulous breeders who farm rabbits in colors for money and they haven't even done enough research to know they should never have been bred together. There's a reason those boring torts make up the vast majority of wins across the US. Build your herd first, then once you have a solid foundation you can enjoy making those colors that you are proud to put on a table.
How to Find a good breeder
- Go to nationals/conventions/local shows, even the fair. It sounds insane, but so does placing huge monetary and sentimental value in an animal that sometimes feels like all it wants to do is die. National shows & Conventions are where the best of the best hang out, so if you want to make good connections go up and watch the tables. Talk to the breeders, you'll usually find them cracking jokes and harassing each other. It may be intimidating at first, but find yourself a person and introduce yourself. Holland people are like no other group, there’s a lot of love and good humor between them and will be happy to welcome a new breeder who wants to do things right.
- Put Facebook down. I know it sounds hard, but in the modern world there are a lot of internet “experts” who will drown out the few voices of reason trying to guide you in the right direction. Once you have experience, and understand type and what you need/want, then you can have fun on the groups without risking getting led astray.
- Step away from the color. This is brought up over and over, it is that important. Get some knowledge 1st, raise a few litters, go to shows, learn the hobby. Then look into the colors, but be warned people just fall in love with torts because torts are not boring. Torts are just as much fun as colors and when you’re winning I promise you won’t be crying because it isn't a “fun” color.
- If someone refers to their Rabbitry as a business, run. Trust me if you’re doing it right there is no money to be made in rabbits. We all have jobs to pay for our hobby, because in order to turn rabbits into a business you need to be producing them on a scale far larger than a show breeder will responsibly run. While plenty of good show breeders sell pets our goal is not to produce pets, it is to make champions and better our breed.
How Can I Settle a Bunny (or Bunnies) in a New Environment?
Rabbits can be very flighty creatures, so entering a new environment can be very scary for them. This can make introductions difficult at times. Rabbits are prey animals, so all their instincts are geared toward running away and staying safe from anything that might want to eat them. The result is a pet that needs a lot of patience and a quiet introduction to your home. Remember that rabbits are not a good pet for young kids, and you must be prepared for a lot of extra introduction work if you have other pets.
You want your new pet to settle in and make himself at home, and you want him to be totally at ease in this new place. What can you do? The first step is patience. It will take him some time to explore and adjust to the new place. Until he's assured himself that there is no danger in the home, he won't be entirely comfortable. There are a few things you can do to help with this process. Here are some tips for introducing a rabbit to a new home, whether it be because you moved or because you are just introducing him to the family.
Put the Rabbit's Cage in Its Permanent Location.
Rabbits make great house pets, but the introduction has to be slow. When you first bring the rabbit into the home, set his cage or carrier down in a quiet corner. Ideally, you'll have a comfortable cage that has solid sides or have it set in a room with very little activity. Even if you plan to have a free-roaming house rabbit, you still need to provide a cage. This is the rabbit's safe place, and it's the place he will go whenever you can't directly supervise his movements.
If you've just moved from another house, place things the rabbit is familiar with close to him. Food can be set out for him in a clean corner of the cage or carrier if desired, but don't be surprised if he doesn't eat it right away. When a rabbit is eating is when it's at its most vulnerable, so he'll have to feel pretty safe before he'll really settle down to eat. On the flip side, if he finds that nothing attacks him when he does eat something, it can go a long way to calming him down quickly.
Make Sure It's Quiet When You First Introduce the Rabbit to the HousePlace the rabbit's cage in a quiet corner of the house. Depending on its previous experiences and individual personality, the rabbit may have to stay there for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Wait until the rabbit is calm and relaxed, meaning that he's eating well and showing curiosity about his surroundings. Now you can open the cage door and let him venture out on his own. Don't force him, and keep exploration to a room at a time.
In your rabbit's first introduction to a room in the house outside the cage, make sure it's quiet and your rabbit has plenty of space to move and hide. Keep the TV and radio off or turned down low and try to avoid sudden loud noises. Speak at a normal level, but be careful not to shout for the first day or two. If you have any other pets, make sure they're separated from the rabbit's area of exploration. Try to keep any dogs calm so they don't bark and startle the rabbit.
Pick a Distance From Your Rabbit That Works for Him
A rabbit that already knows you may find comfort in your presence, but one that doesn't may just feel threatened if you linger too close. If you're moving a long-time pet to a new home, chances are he'll welcome your reassurance and attention, but if the pet is new he may see you as a potential predator until he learns otherwise.
For a new pet, simply go about your normal business in the house while he ventures out of his cage and explores. Eventually he'll get curious and come introduce himself to you, though it may take up to a few days. For now, make sure there's nothing that can hurt him and be sure to keep an eye on him from a distance.
Much like cats, rabbits will take a few days to settle in. He may choose one hiding spot that he has deemed safe, or he may surreptitiously creep around the house. Either way, he should be allowed his space to do so. Once he is wandering around in the open more and doesn't tense up or shy away from the house's inhabitants, then he is fairly well acclimated and can be better absorbed into the family and the everyday workings of the household.
Try to Be Patient—It May Take a Day or Even Weeks
Don't feel discouraged if it takes your rabbit several days to feel at home in his new environment. Give him time, space, and a relaxed atmosphere and he will come around. Some well-socialized rabbits may be settled in within a day, while others may take weeks to be perfectly at home. Sooner or later, they're bound to accept the new digs and assimilate themselves into their new families. Just remember that, unlike dogs and cats, a rabbit is a prey animal by nature. That means that it'll naturally be a bit more flighty, and a bit more sensitive to unfamiliar aspects of home life.