Raising rabbits for fun or profit

As the Year of the Rabbit begins, this cute and cuddly species is all the rage.

rabbit

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Year of the Bunny boom by Nareerat Wiriyapong

Demand is jumping ahead of the Year of the Rabbit, but breeders say raising rabbits as pets or for business is a long-term commitment.

Are you among those looking to start a profitable new career in the Golden Rabbit Year? What could be more appropriate than breeding the quiet, long-eared pets for which the year is named.

Nattawut Trachoo, a manager at a multinational company, acquired a few rabbits as companions five years ago at a time when raising the animals was not very popular among Thai pet lovers.

But things have changed over the last year or two, with a growing number of Thais turning to rabbits because they don't require as much space as dogs or cats, and don't make noises that disturb the neighbours.

With the Year of the Rabbit about to start, bunnies are in high demand with people either buying them for themselves or as gifts for children or friends.

"The market has doubled in size, I would say," says Mr Nattawut, who has turned his house into a small farm with 20 rabbits. "My friend's shop at Chatuchak weekend market is now selling 60 rabbits a week compared to 30 last year."

The Chinese horoscope says the rabbit will bring prosperity and success in love, says Mr Nattawut, adding that white and orange rabbits are the most popular among enthusiasts these days.

Two types of rabbits are widely raised and bred in Thailand. Holland Lops are outstanding with their long ears, broad shoulders and deep chests, while the smaller Netherlands Dwarf or ND has a shortened and round-shaped face.

The Thailand Rabbit Breeders' Club says breeding rabbits can generate 20,000 baht per month on average.

There are tens of thousands of rabbit owners countrywide, said Pipit Boonyaporn, who founded the club three years ago and is now its president.

Prices of rabbits generally range from 2,000 to 4,000 baht but those considered competition-worthy can cost up to 20,000 baht.

Locally bred breeders
cost 8,000 baht while imports are priced up to 30,000 baht, said Mr Pipit, who has spent more than one million baht on a rabbit farm with 80 animals that consume 12,000 baht worth of food each month.

"Normally, breeders have 20 rabbits on average and the cost should be divided by three from what I have spent and am paying now," Mr Pipit said as he estimated costs for beginners.

It is important for newcomers that you study carefully the market opportunities because there are a number of breeders now.

Costs of rabbit food and accessories have also been rising, according to Bunny Delight Rabbitry, which was established three years ago on a farm in Kanchanaburi. Now it has 80 rabbits and also sells supplies.

Accessories include baskets, bottles and toilets. Bags to carry rabbits are priced between 280 and 1,800 baht, said Piyalak Sariya, a rabbit breeder and co-owner of Bunny Delight.

"Since the beginning of this year, I've sold seven bags compared to three per month in 2010," she says, adding that orders for rabbits had also increased substantially since the new year.

Despite his own belief that raising rabbits will bring good luck, Mr Nattawut cautioned that those who want to buy the animals have to learn how to care for them properly.

"They get diarrhoea easily and could easily die because of the symptoms. So make sure the food you give them is clean and appropriate," he said.

Rabbits are also good pets for parents to give their children, but one must stress to a youngster that a rabbit is not a toy that can be discarded after a few weeks if the child gets bored.

"Raising the animal will help teach children to have responsibility. Taking care of an animal is a better way for them to spend time than playing computer games," he said.

With demand for rabbits increasing, breeders have expressed concern over the number of rabbits dumped after their owners decided they were no longer cute.

"I take some of them for treatment at hospitals and do some jabs myself when visiting them at the zoo in Nakhon Prathom," said Thitima Duangta, who has 20 rabbits of her own.

"There are some rabbits being dumped every day," she said. "I am against those who raise rabbits for fashion and later dump them because they don't have the ability to take care of them for their entire lives to the end."

(Source: Bangkok Post, Year of the Bunny boom, 17/01/2011, Nareerat Wiriyapong, link)

Rabbit vocabulary

rabbit - small animal you can hold in your hands with soft furry hair (See Wikipedia on rabbit and domestic rabbit) กระต่าย
bunny - the way that children say "rabbit"

breeding (noun) - the keeping of animals or plants in order to produce young animals from them การผสมพันธุ์สัตว์เพื่อขยายพันธุ์
breeders (noun) - people who raise animals to make more animals
breed (noun) - one kind of rabbit with certain features, that breeders breed (See Wikipedia list of breeds)
breed (verb, present tense) - producing more animals or plants from the ones you already have
bred (verb, past tense)

species - a group of animals that have similar appearance, the largest group that can breed together (See Wikipedia) พันธ์, ชนิด

Holland Lops - a breed of rabbit "known for their sweet temperament and nonaggressive behavior, though they retain a certain doglike tenacity," originating in the Netherlands (See Wikipedia)
Netherlands Dwarf - a smaller breed of rabbit with a babyish appearance originating in the the Netherlands (See Wikipedia)

Thailand Rabbit Breeders' Club - the organization for people who breed rabbits as a business in Thailand (See Website)

Astrology vocabulary

Year of the Rabbit - the Rabbit ( 兔 ) (or "Hare") is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, the Chinese year of the Rabbit begins on Feb 04, 2011  (See Wikipedia)

astrology -
"a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies (the Sun, Moon, and planets) and related details can provide information about personality, human affairs and other "earthly" matters" a belief that "the movements and positions of celestial bodies ...inform... about events experienced on a human scale" and "that predictions can be made from them" (See Wikipedia)
astrologer - an expert on astrology, a person who makes horoscopes for people

horoscope - a description of what is going to happen to you, based on the position of the stars and planets at the time of your birth, made by an "astrologer" practicing "astrology" (See Wikipedia) ดวงชะตาราศี

Chinese horoscope -
Chinese astrology and horoscopes are "based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. Chinese astrology does not calculate the positions of the sun, moon and planets at the time of birth. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD)" (See Wikipedia)

Chinese zodiac - a set of animals each assigned to one year in a 12-year cycle, the animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar (See Wikipedia)

Other vocabulary:

cuddly - very nice to hug and cuddle with (because the rabbit is soft and furry)
all the rage - very popular, everyone likes it
boom - when some activity becomes very popular and everyone seems to be doing it

commitment - a promise to continue doing something, not give up การใ้ห้คำมั่น, willing to give your time and energy to something that you believe in; a promise or firm decision to do something การมอบความไว้วางใจ
long-term commitment - a promise to continue doing some activity for a long without giving up
career - the job (work, profession) or long series of related jobs that you do and plan to do during much of your life (Read a Bangkok Post article about becoming a chef as a career; See Wikipedia and glossary)

appropriate - what is right and correct, suitable proper, fitting เหมาะสม

multinational company (MNC) -  a company whose manufacturing and sales are spread over many countries (See Wikipedia)
acquired - bought
companions - friends (other people (or here animals) that you spend time with)
disturb - do something that stops a place from being quiet, calm and peaceful, making people upset or angry รบกวน
demand - people or consumers wanting to buy goods and services 

astrology -
See above
astrologer - See above
horoscope - See above
Chinese horoscope -
See above
Chinese zodiac - See above

prosperity - a time when people have enough money and life is good, the situation of being successful and having a lot of money ความมั่งคั่ง, ความเจริญรุ่งเรือง
enthusiast - a person who is very excited and enthusiastic about some hobby or activity and spends a lot of time doing it

Holland Lops - See above
Netherlands Dwarf - See above

outstanding - clearly very much better than what is usual ยอดเยี่ยม, ดีเด่น
broad - wide กว้างขวาง

Thailand Rabbit Breeders' Club - see above
generate - create สร้าง กระตุ้นให้เิกิด produce ก่อให้เกิด

range - all the amounts between two amounts
worthy - qualify for, have the necessary features, have enough or what it takes to do or be something สมควร, พอสมควร, คุ้ม, คุ้มค่า   
competition-worthy - have what it takes to compete
locally bred breeders - rabbits that can be used to make more rabbits (breed) that were born in Thailand (not imported from other countries)
spent - used ที่ใช้ไป
consume - to use a supply of something ใช้จนหมดไป

newcomers - new in doing this sort of activity ผู้ที่มาใหม่ สมาชิกใหม่
opportunities - a situation where it is possible to do something that you want to do
established - created
accessories -
objects that you add to something to make it more useful or more beautiful เครื่องประดับ
co-owner - one owner in a group of owners of something
delight - extreme enjoyment, pleasure or happiness ความยินดี

cautioned -
warn or tell a person about something (that something bad might happen, or that they should do something)
properly - done in the right or correct way อย่างเหมาะสม, อย่างถูกต้อง

diarrhoea - "the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day" (See Wikipedia) ท้องเสีย
symptoms - something that shows that a person has a disease, a conditions or something in or on the body  อาการของโรค

appropriate - what is right and correct, suitable, fit and proper เหมาะสม
stress - to emphasis the importance of something เน้น
discard - throw away, get rid of, not keep ละทิ้ง, ทอดทิ้ง, ทิ้งไป, โยนทิ้ง
bored - be certain of the truth

responsibility - having to take care of some task as part of your job or role in life (for example: as a child in a family attending school)
concern - a worry ความกังวล
dump - abandon  
treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา
jab - push with a sudden straight movement (here: jab a needle into the skin, giving an injection to treat a disease in the rabbit)
dump - to abandon; to stop carr of  เลิก

About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer