There are a number of Acts that affect the sale of animals. These include the various Protection of
Animal Acts between 1911 and 1964 and the Trade Descriptions Act, but the main Act is the Pet
Animals Act of 1951. Many people quote this Act particularly when they wish to prevent the sale of
domestic rabbits or to cause difficulties at shows where rabbits are being sold. But (and this is a very
important but) the Pet Animals Act refers only to rabbits sold by persons carrying on a business of
selling animals as pets. The Act specifically says ‘No person who is only keeping or selling rabbits bred
by him or the young of any animal kept by him’ is covered by this Act.
Any person therefore who takes a rabbit to a show or any show that offers animals for sale in any way,
for example in a selling class, cannot be regarded as coming within the Pet Animals Act.
There is complete freedom for any breeder (who doesn’t keep a pet shop or deals in rabbits as a
business) to sell any rabbit in any way he likes, provided that he does not mislead the customer or acts
There is however one exception to this. The Animal Welfare Act does say that any person who sells
an animal as a pet to a person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be under the age of sixteen
years is guilty of an offence. It is therefore, very important to ensure that if a child wishes to buy a
rabbit then the seller should sell it to the parents.
In the interest of any animals being sold, and in the interest of the rabbit fancy as a whole, all sellers of rabbits should act responsibly and follow the recommendations:
1. No rabbit should be sold before it is at least 10 weeks of age.
2. No sick or injured animals should ever be sold.
3. The seller should make absolutely certain that the buyer fully understands the care and handling
of the rabbit. The seller should give the potential owner information on VHD and Myxomatosis
and advice as to the vaccinations available. The seller should provide the new owner with at least
a week’s supply of the rabbit’s current food and details of where that food may be purchased and
should advise as to how to change from one rabbit food to another. The seller should provide the
new owner with information as to how much food to give the rabbit and what extras the rabbit is
accustomed to - this could be by means of a care sheet.
4. The seller should provide the new owner with contact points for the British Rabbit Council and
details of their Local Adviser.
5. The general conditions under which the rabbit has been kept should be explained.
6. Any animal sold should both conform to a standard and be a reasonable show specimen or the
buyer should be informed that it is not suitable for show.
7. No rabbit should be sold to a child under the age of 16 years.
8. Care should be taken that at all times the animals should be kept in satisfactory surroundings. This
also applies to shows where sometimes too many animals are confined to pens (when they are for
sale), which causes overcrowding.
The BRC has a range of leaflets for members and new owners on topics such
as Keeping Rabbits, Housing and the Law, the Importance of Diet and Showing.
Please contact us on 01636 676042.
ACQUISITION & SALE OF DOMESTIC RABBITS
1. Before acquiring any rabbit for the first time it is advisable to research the subject thoroughly to
ascertain the correct information concerning housing, feeding etc. There is an abundance of
expertise waiting to be sourced.
• Experienced breeders and exhibitors
• BRC Representatives, BRC literature and the Fur & Feather bookshop.
• Local Library, school library
• The internet
2. The breed of the intended rabbit must be distinguished in order to determine its finished size so
that adequate accommodation can be provided.
3. The prospective new owner must evaluate his/her ability to provide proper daily care and to
provide for the rabbit’s care and welfare when on holiday.
4. It is not advisable to purchase a rabbit from a local newspaper advertisement, if however this
method is chosen ask to see the parents of the potential purchase.
5. Local pet shops and garden centres acquire rabbits from various sources, commercial breeders,
hobby breeders. Watch out for stressed and lethargic animals, all rabbits should be bright and
very alert. Avoid purchasing if you have any doubt as to the well being of the rabbit. The staff
at all these establishments should have sufficient knowledge to be able to provide information
on the rabbits in their care and be able to provide a comprehensive care regime i.e. feed sheet to
the new owner.
6. Exhibitors who breed may sell their excess stock. Variation of breeds would be limited as each
exhibitor may only keep four breeds. However, if correctly researched a breeder/exhibitor who
keeps your chosen variety would be able to provide much advice and determine which animal
would be most suitable to your needs.
7. Sales at shows. Many clubs provide selling pens where surplus stock can be sold; this more often
than not leads to impulse buying.
8. Animal sanctuaries. These places house and re-home unwanted and abandoned rabbits. Most
are usually adults and the background and history may be sketchy. The people at the sanctuary
are usually well minded and often visit prospective new owners before releasing the animal.
1. The intended purchaser must be an adult or a person over the age of 16 years.
2. The rabbit must be old enough to sustain itself and survive without the help from its mother.
(Minimum 10 weeks of age)
3. The rabbit should be free from all known rabbit diseases and should appear fit and healthy.
4. The rabbit should not knowingly have been exposed to any known rabbit disease.
5. The potential new owner should be briefed about the breed regarding its need and expectations.
6. The seller should satisfy him/herself that accommodation and essentials are ready and waiting
for the rabbit in its new home.
7. The seller should satisfy him/herself that the potential new owner displays/indicates some
competence regarding the new acquisition.
We, the British Rabbit Council is unable to give any guarantee as to the health, fertility or suitability
as a Show animal of the stock being sold, neither can we give any guarantee as to whether any rabbit
conforms to the Breed Standard. Although the persons registered with this Directory are BRC
Members it is the responsibility of the individuals concerned to check that the rabbits are healthy and
of the required standard prior to purchasing. All sales and purchases of rabbits which might take
place following a contact made through this Directory is the responsibility of the buyer and seller
respectively and the British Rabbit Council is involved only as a means of introducing prospective
purchasers to BRC Members who keep a particular breed of rabbit.