It’s natural to be afraid of losing your bunny. After all, rabbits are fast-moving, can tunnel effectively, and are small animals. If yours decides to skirt out of your yard, it can seem impossible to find it again. Microchipping your rabbit could be a great way to locate it later and safely bring it home. However, you may be concerned about any long-term side-effects of embedding a piece of technology under a bunny’s skin.
Microchipping a rabbit is virtually risk-free. As long as it’s implanted by a professional, the chip will be harmless and almost entirely painless. Even better, it provides anyone who finds your lost bunny with an accurate, immediate way to contact you. The procedure itself ranges from $20 to $50, and can be performed on bunnies of almost any age. Since it’s a life-time implant, there’s no need for replacements.
The advantages of microchipping a rabbit definitely outweigh the risks. Finding your lost bunny quickly can lessen its chances of being injured or remaining in an animal shelter indefinitely.
Can You Microchip Rabbits?
Microchipping is a common procedure for both cats and dogs. However, chipping smaller animals is less heard of. Won’t it harm your bunny, especially if it’s a small breed? Likewise, since rabbits are typically indoor-only pets, would a vet even bother to microchip one?
Microchips, as their name implies, are very small chips. Because they are tiny, the size of an animal doesn’t really matter. It will embed under the skin and cause no harm.
Do Microchips Work?
Microchipping your rabbit will be very effective. Only 22% of dogs without microchips were reunited with their owners. For dogs with microchips, this figure rose to 52%.
For animals that couldn’t be returned, it was mostly due to the negligence of their owners. The reasons ranged from failing to keep the information up to date, to not answering calls or letters, to not registering the chip at all.
So, as long as you keep your information updated, there is a good chance that your pet will be returned to you.
How Does Microchipping Rabbits Work?
A microchip is a small electronic chip the size of a grain of rice. It is coated in glass and inserted underneath the skin. Specifically, the chip is inserted in the back, between the shoulder blades of your rabbit.
While this procedure may seem invasive, it’s not at all harmful. The microchip is inserted using a large needle. It appears more like an injection than any other procedure. In fact, embedding the chip is so quick and easy, it can be handled during a consultation, or even a house call.
Microchips don’t act as a tracker. They won’t let you know where your rabbit is at all times. Instead, microchips act more like a barcode.
The technology can be scanned with microchip readers. They will be able to read the info contained in the chip. This information can then be traced to a database, which contains information on how to contact you, the owner.
Aside from reuniting you with your lost rabbit, microchips have other functions, too. This technology can even be used to determine body temperature, according to Laboratory Animals. As such, this tech may be used in different ways in the future.
Reasons To Microchip Your Rabbit
If you don’t want to microchip your rabbit, that’s perfectly fine. It’s natural to be concerned about the cost, the procedure, and even the fuss of scheduling an appointment with your vet.
Increases Chances of Finding a Lost Rabbit
Microchips provide a new and more reliable avenue to reconnect lost pets with their owners. For example, imagine someone brings a found rabbit into a shelter. This shelter can scan the rabbit to look for a microchip. If it has one, the shelter can easily access the owner’s contact info, and reunite the pet with its loved one.
Without a microchip, the shelter won’t have a reliable method for locating the owner. Traditional methods are very limiting. This is especially true because most shelters can only return a pet if the owner comes to them.
Finding Your Rabbit No Matter The Distance
Traditional methods fall short if you lose your pet in an unfamiliar place. Most shelters will only spread the word in their local community about lost pets. Rabbits are also fast creatures and could’ve run farther away than you thought. If your bunny crosses into a new town, you could be out of luck.
In the modern day, microchip readers are cheap and accessible. Most rabbit shelters have a few on hand. This allows them to check for chips in every rabbit that comes to their doors.
However, while this is the ideal scenario, there are a few caveats. Not all shelters are required to check for a microchip whenever a rabbit is surrendered to them. That will depend on the policy of the area it is located in, as well as their own internal policies.
Nonetheless, most responsible shelters will check all rabbits for microchips. They will then try their best to reunite lost pets to their owners.
Help When Your Rabbit Is Injured
Additionally, vet offices can check for your rabbit’s details. Remember that if your rabbit is lost, there is a good chance it will get injured. In these dire cases, you’d probably want the vet to have your contact info.
A clinic will be more likely to provide extensive treatments with the permission and funding of an owner. Without it, the vet clinic may be limited by their policies.
While it may seem like complicated technology, microchipping is a quick and easy procedure. Microchips are placed in an animal through one simple injection. Chances are that the procedure will be done before you’re finished signing the paperwork.
As such, most veterinarians recommend microchipping a rabbit during its first vaccines. You can easily insert the device alongside other procedures. You can also opt for microchipping during procedures that require an anesthetic, especially for particularly anxious or aggressive rabbits.
Microchipping is almost entirely painless. Because the chip is inserted through a needle, it will only hurt as much as any vaccine. Your rabbit will feel a small pinch, and it’s done! With a particularly hardy bun, chances are, you won’t even see the pet flinch.
Peace of Mind
Whether your pet is an indoor or outdoor rabbit, there are an infinite number of chances for it to escape. You may open a door at just the wrong moment, or your rabbit may escape while in its carrier. In these cases, it’s much better to have it microchipped, for your own peace of mind.
Does My Rabbit Need a Microchip?
While all rabbits will benefit from having a microchip, there are a few instances where it is more necessary.
It’s safer for rabbits to be housed indoors, but not all households can do that. If your rabbit lives primarily outdoors, it’s very important to have it microchipped. Since no one can keep an eye on it all the time, it’s so easy for it to sneak out and get lost.
Rabbits That Spend a Long Time Outdoors
Even if you do not keep your rabbit outside, if it plays outside for long stretches of time, it’s at risk. The most secure enclosure can still fall victim to a rabbit’s escapist behavior.
Perhaps your bunny has an open-air run. Perhaps its cage is placed outside for time in the sun. It can still easily squeeze through gaps, dig, or chew through weak spots.
Indoor Rabbits With Access To Exits
Inside rabbits with access to doors that lead to the outside are still at risk. After all, bunnies are fast and quiet. One swift run through an open door can be enough to lose your pet. This is especially troublesome if you take a while to notice.
If You Take Your Rabbits for Walks
Walks are a great way to bond with your rabbit. As a plus, they’re a good source of enrichment and exercise.
Quality harnesses are designed to keep your rabbit safe. Nonetheless, there is still a chance that your bunny may escape from its harness. Perhaps it chewed through the leash. Perhaps the harness was attached too loosely. Perhaps the harness simply broke from age or poor quality stitching.
A rabbit escaping during a walk is in more danger than a rabbit who escapes from your backyard. This is because it might be in a completely unfamiliar territory. If your bunny wants to return to you, it will struggle to find its way.
Rabbits aren’t known for navigating home to their owners. The chances are even slimmer when the bunny itself is disoriented. That can make microchipping invaluable.
Is Microchipping Harmful?
The procedure for microchipping poses no real threat to your rabbit. Since it’s done through an injection, the embedding process is quick and painless.
Additionally, the design of the microchip itself is harmless. It is coated in non-reactive glass, has no battery, and has no moving parts. In this way, there is pretty much no downside to microchipping a rabbit.
Only one issue can arise with microchipping. This occurs when the microchip moves to another area in the body. Even then, it is a minor issue.
A Microchip That Has Moved
The microchip is implanted under the skin. In this layer, it cannot cause any damage to your rabbit. This is true even when the microchip shifts under the skin.
It may relocate to another area of the body, usually a few inches in any direction. This causes no physical harm. It will simply take longer for vets and shelters to read your rabbit’s information. They will need to scan a broader area to locate the chip. Once they find it, they have your information, and the chip has done its job.
Who Can Microchip Rabbits?
To ensure that complications don’t arise, microchipping should only be done by qualified professionals. All veterinarians and animal nurses should be qualified to microchip your rabbit.
Never try to do it yourself or through an unqualified party. Without the correct equipment, practice, and sterile technique, your rabbit could grow ill or be injured.
How Much Does It Cost To Microchip a Rabbit?
Microchips are cheap and accessible to most rabbit owners. At the higher end, microchipping costs about $50. This price often covers the procedure, as well as registering the chip itself.
You will not need to pay for an update or replacement over the years. Microchips are designed to be permanent. There are no electronics, so they won’t wear out. Barring serious injury, a rabbit’s microchip will remain in peak condition throughout its life.
If your rabbit is microchipped in tandem with other vet visits, the procedure will often cost less. This is because you won’t pay for a separate doctor’s fee. As such, having your rabbit microchipped alongside a different procedure is a good idea.
However, depending on the manufacturer, you may need to pay for annual fees. These fees are for the information that you keep in their database. Some manufacturers may also charge a fee for changing information. These fees are often around $15.
With that said, some manufacturers only charge for updating info. Others don’t charge any fees after the initial procedure.
Microchipping Fees with Rabbit Shelters
Shelters may require families who adopt rabbits to pay microchipping fees. In these cases, the fee may be even less. On average, it’s around $20. This expense is often included in the adoption fees and may be mandatory for some shelters.
There are some cases wherein a rabbit is already microchipped. Here, you will not have to pay for the microchipping fee. As an example, a rabbit may have already been adopted before but returned to shelter. In this case, you will only need to pay to change the information on the chip to you, the current owner.
When Should I Microchip My Rabbit?
You should get your rabbit microchipped as soon as you claim ownership. For newborn rabbits, this should be at 8 weeks of age. Ideally, microchipping should be done alongside essential vet procedures for young rabbits, like vaccinations.
Most people wait to do the microchipping procedure when their rabbits are being spayed or neutered. This is so the microchipping happens while the rabbit is under anesthesia.
However, spaying and neutering is recommended at 4 to 6 months of age. This can prove to be too late for rabbits that get lost before then. Plus, younger rabbits tend to be more flighty than adult rabbits. They can more easily squirm through openings or jump out of carriers.
Anesthesia is not necessary for the microchipping procedure. The implant is no different from an average injection. Because of this, if your rabbit can take the anesthesia needle, it can take the microchipping even easier.
How To Tell If a Rabbit Is Microchipped
There’s no easy way to tell if a rabbit is microchipped. Veterinarians used to give rabbits a small tattoo to indicate that they were microchipped. This would be a small “M” on the outside of their ear.
However, this practice isn’t required, and not all professionals do it. At present, there is less of a need to indicate that a rabbit is microchipped. Microchip readers are cheaper and more readily available. There are also more shelters that have microchip readers on hand. In this way, they can check all the animals that come into their care, instead of just a few.
The best way to tell if a rabbit is microchipped is to scan it with a reader. Since chips are typically placed in the same place on all animals, the scanning process begins there. If a chip isn’t immediately found, then searching the surrounding area with the reader can produce results. If none are found, the rabbit has no microchip.
It’s natural to be hesitant about new technology. However, the data shows that microchips are effective and harmless. For around $20-$50, you can ensure that anyone who finds your lost rabbit can safely return it.
This is especially important for rabbits that live outdoors, go on walks, or have access to doors leading outside. You can microchip your bunny whether it’s young or old. For its safety and your peace of mind, there’s no reason not to get it done.