Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society
Tips for Listing Rabbits on Petfinder.com
Have a standard informational paragraph for all rabbits:
Set up a default “Pet Description” that can be added to all rabbit profiles. Set it up once and this text will appear every time you choose “rabbit” in the Animal Type field. Because it is attached to the type of animal, you can have different informational paragraphs for dogs, cats, etc.
This default “Pet Description” can be educational or can refer to adoption policies. Educational descriptions could include a few sentences on the importance of spay/neuter for rabbits, diet, toys, or indoor housing. Do you require adopters to house rabbits indoors? Or require spay/neuter after adoption? Put the details in the Pet Description and save yourself the effort of typing it every time you enter a rabbit profile.
Compared to dogs, all rabbits are small. But potential adopters looking at rabbits aren’t thinking on the same scale as dogs. To most adopters, a “small” rabbit is 4 lbs or less. Rabbits can be over 20 lbs, but extra large rabbits like that are rarely seen in shelters. Companion Rabbit Network recommends using the following approximate guidelines for determining what size to specify on Petfinder.com.
Small – under 4 lbs.
Medium – 4 lbs – 7 lbs
Large – 7 lbs – 10 lbs
X-Large – over 10 lbs
It should be noted that if you have a young rabbit, their current weight may not be their final weight/size. It is best to use an estimated full size, if possible. If not, the individual pet description can specify that the rabbit is likely to continue growing. Unfortunately, rabbits do get surrendered for getting “too big” so size can be very important to some adopters.
The lifespan of a rabbit can be 12 years or more. However, they reach adolescence in only a few months. Consequently, Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society considers rabbits “baby” only until they reach adolescence, “young” during adolescence, and “adult” after they reach full maturity (usually by 9 months old). Because most altered house rabbits will live to be at least 8 years old, and many can live over 12 years, we arbitrarily estimate “senior” as starting about 8 years of age.
Baby – under 4 months
Young – 4 – 9 months
Adult – over 9 months
Senior – 8 yrs or older
Include personality information:
Perhaps one of the single-most important things to include for every rabbit description is personality information. As with other animals, Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society encourages adopters not to select their rabbit based solely on appearance and basic facts like age, gender, etc. It is the individual personality quirks that attract potential adopters and helps make that all important connection. The Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society constantly hears from individuals who are interested in our rabbits because they were able to get to know the rabbit by reading their profile. A simple one-paragraph profile can make your rabbits shine. (See the separate handout “Personality Profiles for Rabbits” for more detail.)
The importance of pictures:
While a picture shouldn’t be the sole criteria for adopters, that isn’t to say that pictures don’t matter, either. In fact, if there isn’t a picture or the picture isn’t very good, adopters looking at a list of 40 – 90 adoptable rabbits are just going to pass that rabbit by to look at those with pictures. Good pictures are important for catching adopters attention as well as for showing off aspects of personality that can be reinforced in the description/profile. In addition, many subtle messages can be relayed within a picture as well. A few tips:
- Try to avoid taking pictures of rabbits through cage wire. This reinforces the image of rabbits being primarily caged and “boring.”
- Try to avoid showing the rabbit being held by someone. This often gives adopters the idea that rabbits like to be held – and most don’t. And even if they will cuddle in the shelter, they may behave very differently once they become comfortable at home.
- The ideal situation is to take the rabbit out of the cage for the photos. Take them someplace well-lighted that is relatively restricted so they can explore a little. This could be a “get to know” room or an office, sitting on a towel on a countertop, etc.
- Be conscious of the background. A cluttered background takes attention away from the rabbit. A cheap & easy alternative is to drape towels or fabric remnants behind the rabbit. Usually, a yard works, but a little more is nice, if available (minimizes the number of times the rabbit hops out of the “studio”) If one of your volunteers likes to sew, they may enjoy finding inexpensive fabrics fo this purpose.
- Try to get one picture that really shows off the rabbit’s looks – a good head & body shot that shows the rabbit well.
- Since Petfinder.com now will show up to three photos per animal, the other two pictures can be “action” shots of the rabbit playing with a toy, peeking out of a cardboard box or paper bag, sitting in a litterbox, munching on hay or fresh greens, or just flopped out relaxed.
- Remember that volunteers may enjoy this important task. It does not need to require staff time. In any case it is a small investment that may really make a difference in helping to place rabbits.