Many pet caretakers worry about what would happen if their beloved companion managed to get lost outside. Pets can get scared and confused in an unfamiliar area and be unable to find their way back home. Microchipping your companion makes it much more likely that you will be reunited with your beloved pet.
Should you microchip a pet rabbit? If you have an outdoor run for your rabbit or take them out for walks on a leash, you should seriously consider getting your rabbit microchipped. This will increase the chance of being reunited with your rabbit if they ever manage to escape outside.
If your rabbit is always kept indoors, then it may not be necessary to get them microchipped. There is little chance for most rabbits to escape if they are always kept inside. However, you will want to make sure any access to the outdoors is completely blocked off so your rabbit doesn’t manage to run past someone as they’re walking inside.
What is a microchip?
The goal of a microchip is to give your rabbit (or any other pet) an identification code. This code will be linked to your name, address, and phone number. It will help anyone who finds your rabbit get in contact with you and reunite you with your lost companion. For animals that don’t wear collars (like rabbits) this may be the only way for rescue organizations to find and contact a rabbit’s guardians.
A microchip is a very small computer chip that is implanted in your rabbit’s body. The entire chip is about the size of a grain of rice, or even smaller for newly developed models. It is implanted between the rabbit’s shoulder blades, and it’s made to continue operating for an animal’s entire lifespan. This way if your pet ever gets lost, the chip can easily be scanned by a rescue organization or veterinary hospital.
What to do with the microchip identification number?
When you get your rabbit microchipped, you will be given an identification number that you can use to register your rabbit online. The microchips do not directly link to a computer system and cannot act as a GPS. Think of it as a barcode for your rabbit. It can be scanned and then looked up in the online database to find your contact information.
Once you have your rabbit’s identification number, you need to register it online. It’s best to register the number with the manufacturer of the chip as well as the Found Animals Registry (free). If you ever move or have a change in contact information, you will need to update the registry online with your new information.
Is the microchip procedure safe?
Some surgeries are very dangerous for rabbits, but the microchip procedure is not one of them. Microchipping a rabbit is very safe and there is pretty much no danger of complications. The rabbit does not need to be put under using anesthesia or even put into a trance. Instead a needle is used to make a simple and quick injection of the chip underneath the rabbit’s skin between their shoulder blades, similar to a vaccine injection.
There may be a very small amount of pain during the actual injection. It can feel like a sharp pinch to a rabbit, but the rabbit will usually behave as if nothing happened immediately afterward. Other pets, such as cats and dogs, will sometimes give a little yelp during the procedure, but rabbits are not known to show pain in this way.
In some rare cases it is possible for the microchip to travel underneath the rabbit’s skin. Over time the chip might end up falling to the rabbits chest, rather than staying on their back. While this will make it harder for a rescue organization to find and scan the chip, this does not pose any health risks to the rabbit.
How much do microchips cost?
The microchip implant usually costs anywhere from $20 to $45. Usually this fee will include both the cost of the procedure and the cost of registering the chip with the manufacturer registry. Some manufacturers also charge an annual fee and a fee for updating contact information online. Others are free or have no cost after the initial registration.
When should you microchip your rabbit?
You can get a rabbit microchipped safely at any point in their life. It’s not a procedure that should only be performed on young rabbits. All you would need to do is find a veterinarian or organization that will microchip rabbits and make an appointment for them. A rabbit will never need to get the procedure again because microchips were made to last for the rabbit’s entire life.
For rabbits, it’s common for people to get their pet microchipped when they are spayed or neutered. Since the rabbit is already under anesthesia, this means there is no extra pinch of pain when the chip is inserted. Some doctors will even include the microchip injection at no additional cost. You would only need to pay to register the identification number online.
4 reasons to microchip your rabbit
It is best practice to get cats and dogs microchipped, but the practice is just catching on for other popular pets, like rabbits. For rabbits that are kept safely indoors at all times, there is little chance of escaping outside. A microchip is considered unnecessary to many caretakers. However, there are some instances where you really should consider getting a microchip implant for your rabbit.
1. Your rabbit has an outdoor run
Many rabbits that are housed indoors most of the time still have access to an outdoor run sometimes. Even if you are very careful to make the fence of the outdoor run as rabbit-proof as possible, there is still a chance that your rabbit will be a little Houdini and manage to make an escape. Many rabbits will instinctively know how to retrace their steps. However, if your rabbit manages to get out and can’t find their way back in, a microchip could be the best chance to reunite with your rabbit.
2. You take your rabbit for walks
Rabbits can be trained to walk on leashes just like dogs. Caretakers can put a harness on their rabbit and go for a walk outside to get exercise, fresh air, and sunlight. Usually there is no danger in bringing your rabbit for a walk, but a rabbit could escape if:
- The harness is too loose and the rabbit squirms out.
- The clip on the harness breaks.
- The rabbit chews through the leash.
Your rabbit might be in unfamiliar territory if they ever get out of a harness, so they could very easily get lost. Having a chip could help your rabbit get back to you after they are found.
3. Your rabbit tries to escape
Some house rabbits will try to make a dash for the door. If they are housed anywhere near a door that leads outside, you may want to consider getting your rabbit microchipped. Even if you think that it’s incredibly unlikely that your rabbit would actually make it outside, you should consider getting the implant just to be on the safe side.
4. For mental well being
Even if you’re in a situation where it’s very unlikely your rabbit will ever get loose outside, you may want to get them microchipped just for the peace of mind. Anything can happen. Your rabbit might get out of the carrier when you go bring them to the vet, or you might accidentally leave a door open one day. As unlikely as these events are, it can still give you a little peace of mind. You’ll know that if your rabbit gets out, there is still a chance you will see them again.
What to do if your rabbit is lost outside
If your rabbit is microchipped and has been lost outside, you can take some steps to increase the chances of seeing your companion again. The steps you can take immediately are:
- Make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date. Check that the phone number and address are correct so that you can be easily contacted if your rabbit is found by a rescue organization.
- Contact local rescues and veterinary offices. You can let these organizations know of the description of your rabbit. Also tell them that your rabbit has a microchip. Since microchipping is not a widespread practice among rabbits at this time, some rescues won’t realize that rabbits can be microchipped too and won’t check. But if you contact them, you can let them know your rabbit has a microchip. This ensures that they will check any new rabbits that enter the shelter.
- Put up posters and ask your neighbors to keep an eye out. Many rabbits stay close to the place where they get lost. If your rabbit escaped close to home, your neighbors can help you find them.
- “Pet Microchip FAQ’s.” Petfinder. https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/microchip-faqs.