Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not make good ‘starter pets’, should not be a child’s responsibility and are actually quite intelligent animals who require a specialized diet, housing and care.
These are a few of the main points you should consider prior to adding a rabbit to your household…
Trust Building Can Take A While:
Rabbits are prey animals and by instinct are more cautious. It is natural for them to be nervous about you and their new surroundings. It isn’t that they don’t want your companionship but for most rabbits it will take a while for them to open up and fully trust you. Patience is vital during these stages.
Vet Bills Are Costlier:
Rabbits are considered an exotic animal. They have complex digestive systems, a very sensitive heart and a delicate bone structure. They require specialized care that only a qualified vet can provide. Most exotic vets will charge a higher exam rate because they are dealing with an exotic animal and have gone through the necessary schooling to become specialized in this area.
You Need Proper Housing And Somewhere To Put That Housing:
Rabbits require a larger amount of space then any pet shop cage can provide. Rabbits are extremely active animals and should not be housed in anything smaller than an ex-pen which provides approximately 16 sq. feet of floor space. Your rabbit needs to be able to hop at least three times in their cage without hitting anything and be able to stand up on their hind legs. Additional levels are recommended as they add extra floor space and keep those back legs nice and strong! Rabbits also require a minimum of 3+ hours of floor time per day. Building your own rabbit condo is an affordable way to provide your rabbit with the required space it needs. You can find out more about this here.
Rabbits Are Natural Chewers And Diggers:
Without diligent bunny proofing, rabbits can wreck havoc on your house. Wires, carpet and baseboards are bunny favourites! Not only is this frustrating for you but it can be incredibly dangerous for your rabbit. Cords and baseboards need to be blocked off and carpet covered before letting your rabbit come out for play time.
Rabbits Don’t Like To Be Picked Up:
Another common misconception is that rabbits make excellent children’s pets and are perfect for snuggling! Rabbits actually have incredibly delicate bone structures and can be easily injured if they are handled too roughly. Being prey animals, they prefer their feet on the ground and interactions should be done on their level.
Need A Minimum Of 3+ Hours Of Daily Exercise:
As mentioned above, rabbits are incredibly active animals. Rabbits love to run, do bunny 500’s and binky! In the wild they would cover an incredible distance on a daily basis foraging for food. If your rabbit isn’t given enough time out of it’s pen then it has no outlet to exert it’s energy. This can lead to a variety of health problems and a very stressed out grumpy bun that takes it’s frustrations out on you!
Bunny proofing, setting up and disassembling floor time, feeding and daily cage cleanings all take time. On top of that you will want to spend as much time as you can bonding with your rabbit. If you have an extremely busy schedule and cannot devote this time to your pet, then a rabbit may not be for you!
Hay And Veggies Can Be A Costly Expense:
Hay purchased at the pet store is incredibly costly and your rabbit needs unlimited amounts available at all times. Depending on the type of harvest and weather we’ve had may also impact the price of hay in your area. Rabbits should also be given 1-2 cups of vegetables daily which can get quite costly especially when you’re purchasing in the off season.
Rabbits Are A 10 Year Commitment:
With proper care, rabbits live for approximately 8-10 years but we are also hearing more and more of bunnies reaching 12+ years of age! So where will you be in 10 years? Are you planning on going away to college or still trying to find your dream job? Do you love to travel? This lifespan is the commitment of a large dog not a hamster. Of course this is great if you are looking for a long term pet that can be an established part of your family.
Rabbits Should Be Spayed/Neutered:
Around 4-6 months of age your rabbit’s hormones will develop and dictate your rabbit’s actions towards you. This can provide a very unpleasant experience for you and your rabbit and is also one of the leading reasons so many end up in shelters. There are a lot of reasons to spay/neuter your rabbit. Find out more about that here.
Rabbits Are Incredibly Social:
Rabbits are incredibly social, loving animals that crave companionship. If you are at school, work or just gone from the house for a large part of the day then you should consider getting a second rabbit. Rabbits are incredibly territorial however and need to both be spayed/neutered before being introduced on neutral ground. You also need to keep in mind that rabbits have their own unique personalities and no matter how hard you try, they may not get along. In this instance you will also need to have the space to house and care for two rabbits separately.
Not Suitable For Young Children:
As previously mentioned, rabbits are extremely delicate animals with sensitive bone structures. Mishandling can easily lead to injury. Rabbits do not like to be picked up and can not take a lot of abuse. Their specialized diet and care requires the dedication of an adult not a young child. This is not to say that a rabbit can’t be a loving and wonderful family pet, however a parent needs to accept primary responsibility for the pet and always supervise while children are around. If you’re looking for something for your child to hold and squeeze a large dog is more suitable.
May Require Annual Vaccines And Will Need An Annual Health Checkup:
Depending on where you live, your rabbit may be required to have annual vaccinations. These protect against deadly diseases such as myxomatosis and VHD. In North America these are not required, however annual checkups are recommended to make sure your rabbit’s are in good health.
If at this point you’re still interested in adding one of these adorable animals to your life then you’ll be happy to read the following…
Less Time Consuming Than Other Animals:
Compared to a puppy, rabbits are a low maintenance pet. They can be left for longer periods of time, you don’t have to walk them outdoors and they can live happily in your home no matter the size. This is great for people living in apartments where space is an issue. It also means you don’t have to go down eleven floors to take your pet outdoors every time they have to use the washroom! When you are going to be away you can leave your rabbit at home and have someone come in daily to spend time with it instead of paying expensive boarding fees.
Once Tame, Rabbits Are Very Loving, Wonderful Animals:
Rabbits are incredibly social and loving. They love interacting with you and seeking your attention. If you have followed us for some time and have watched our various YouTube videos, you will have seen how sweet these animals are.
The binkies, hops, flops and bunny 500s rabbits love to do is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! Watching your rabbit pick up and toss their toys or run around excitedly when given a favourite treat is just too adorable not to enjoy!
Rabbits Are Quiet:
Rabbits don’t vocalize their feelings like a dog or cat which makes them a great addition! If you are looking for a quiet pet to add to your family or live in an apartment, a smaller space or joined housing then why not consider a rabbit?
They Don’t Require You To Walk Them:
When there’s six feet of snow on the side walk, I still have to take my dogs for a walk. The weather outside does not affect a house rabbit. As long as you are providing them with the necessary daily floor time you are not required to participate (although it’s always more fun if you do!).
Rabbits Can Be Litter Trained:
Much like a cat, once spayed/neutered a rabbit can form excellent litter box habits! Many owners choose to have their rabbits free range around their rabbit proofed home because of this! Rabbits are also fastidious groomers and are very clean animals.
Most Active At Dawn And Dusk:
Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active in the early morning and evening. This is perfect for the majority of people who work or go to school during the day. Your rabbit will do most of it’s relaxing while you’re away and be ready to play when you’re home!
Rabbits Don’t Have A Natural Odour:
Unlike rodents and ferrets, rabbits don’t have a natural odour. If you are noticing a smell then you are not changing their bedding or cleaning their litter box enough. Also remember that rabbits who aren’t spayed/neutered will also have smellier urine/faeces as they are trying to mark their territory with their droppings.
Rabbits Come In All Different Sizes, Colours And Breeds:
Floppy ears, erect ears, solid, speckled, banded, white, black, brown, grey, long haired, short haired, large or small, the possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right rabbit for you!
Rabbit Droppings Make Great Fertilizer:
Rabbit droppings are nutrient rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Rabbits poop a lot! Now you have a place to put it!
Can Be Trained:
Rabbits are incredibly intelligent and many easily take to clicker training just like a cat or dog. Many people teach their rabbits a variety of fun tricks! This provides an exciting way to bond with your bunny!
We at BudgetBunny think rabbits make great and loving pets however doing your research first is key! As rabbits are prey animals they can’t be expected to act in the same manner as a dog or cat. It is essential that you go at their pace and be incredibly patient with them as they become a part of your family. Once you have established that bond with your rabbit you will have one incredible companion to share your life with!
Don’t forget, you can learn more about this topic and others by visiting our YouTube channel BudgetBunny!