Fostering

Requirements to be a Fosterer with the MD/DC/NoVA HRS chapter

  1. Must have rabbit experience.
  2. Must be a member of the HRS.
  3. Must have read and understood HRS policies.
  4. All personal rabbits must be spayed or neutered.
  5. Cannot already have a foster rabbit before becoming an HRS fosterer.
  6. Must make a commitment to fostering for the long-term. We need to be able to count on our foster homes.
  7. Must be able to house and exercise HRS foster rabbit separated from personal rabbits.
  8. If housing adoptable rabbits, must be able to bring foster rabbit to bunny matches once a month, or make arrangements to get them to match if fosterer can’t make it.
  9. Must be able to provide HRS foster rabbit at least 30 hours a week out of a cage.
  10. Must understand that all fostering decisions are made by the Director of Fostering and the Chapter Manager, with input from the fosterers.
  11. Email/internet access required if housing an adoptable rabbit. It’s the main way we keep in touch with each other.

Foster Care Guidelines

These fostering guidelines represent the minimum care standards that are expected of an HRS fosterer for the MD/DC/NoVA Chapter. Our adopters need to feel confident about the manner in which the bunny they are adopting has been housed and cared for.

Diet

You must provide as much timothy hay as the rabbit will eat. If your new foster won’t eat hay, it’s probably because he/she never ha it before. Work at it. It’s very important for health in the long run. A salad must be provided every day with at least 3 green vegetables (romaine, parsley and cilantro for example). Please keep treats to a minimum. Rabbits love fruit like apple as a treat. Please none of those fruit and nut honey rolls being sold as rabbit treats. Many experienced rabbit vets now feel that pellets are overfed to our pet rabbits. Pellets were developed by rabbit meat breeders to put weight on fast for market. They do have some vitamins and minerals (and the bunnies love ‘em!) Pellets should only be fed in limited quantities: 1/4 cup per 5 lbs of rabbit *TOTAL* per day. For rabbit under 6 months, feed them as much as they want (unless they are getting fat of course!). Please feed a good quality pellet-no pellets with seeds etc. mixed in should be used. These are very high in fat and generally unhealthy for rabbits, no matter what the manufacturer wants you to believe. Look for a pellet that is low in fat (2% or less is great) and high in fiber (18% or more is great). Some good brands are Oxbow, Harlan, Purina in the Green Bag, and Manna Pro Double Duty.

Housing

If a cage is used, it must be of adequate size. This will vary depending on the bunny. A rule of thumb is can the rabbit completely flop out and still have room for a litterbox and some toys? A litterbox MUST be provided *inside* the cage. A bunny-safe litter must be used. NO pine or cedar shavings. Clay cat litter is very dusty and often causes weepy eyes and respiratory problems. Carefresh, Yesterday’s News, Cat Country are a few litters that are bunny safe. The size of the cage necessary is also somewhat determined by how much time OUT of the cage you are able to provide over the requisite 30 hours a week. If you have a small cage, but the door is always open, that is fine. Cages, exercise pens and baby gates will be provided by the chapter if available.

Exercise

All HRS foster rabbits MUST be allowed OUT of a cage at least 30 hours. You are expected to bunnyproof if necessary to provide this kind of exercise and freedom. An appropriate running area would be 3×8 feet. We want our rabbits to have room to DANCE!

Medical Care

At this time, the chapter is able to pay for all vet costs.  However, you must check with the Chapter Manager first.  You also must use an HRS-approved vet.  All of our foster rabbits are spayed or neutered when old enough.

Supplies

Fosterers are provided with litter and pellets by the chapter, free of charge. All expenses incurred as a fosterer are tax-deductible as a charitable donation. Cages, litterboxes, water bottles, nail trimmers, toys, and miscellaneous supplies are also provided if available.

For more information, email us at rabbitinfo@rabbitsinthehouse.org or fill out the volunteer application here.