Question: Rabbits as Pets - Is a Rabbit the Right Pet for You?
Rabbits can make absolutely delightful pets, but as always, having the right expectations will help you develop a strong bond with your pet. Find out all you can about the care of pet rabbits as well as the pros and cons of pet rabbits before choosing a pet rabbit.
Rabbits are very social as well as active and playful, forming a close bond with their owners.
As long as you know what to expect from a pet rabbit, they have the potential to be wonderful pets.
Life expectancy varies with breed, anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
Why Rabbits Can Make Good Pets
- Rabbits are social and with gentle handling are generally quite tame.
- They are playful and entertaining to watch.
- Rabbits often form very close bonds with their owners.
- They can be litter trained. They also respond well to gentle training (try a clicker) and can be trained to do special behaviors and tricks.
What You Need to Know Before Deciding on a Rabbit
- Being social, rabbits need a great deal of interaction with their owners and/or other rabbits to be happy. Daily playtime and exercise outside of their case are a necessity.
- Rabbits are not low maintenance - it takes a good deal of work to properly care for a rabbit.
- Rabbit pellets alone are not a sufficient diet -- they need lots of roughage in the form of good quality hay and a variety of fresh vegetables.
- They do need to chew, so lots of safe chew toys should be provided, and any spaces where the rabbit is allowed to run must be carefully rabbit-proofed.
- They need a relatively large cage. They are also better off indoors, where they can be more social with their family and also are also safe from predators (even in the city) and extreme weather.
- While they are generally quiet pets, rabbits are not a good match for active young children who may not be careful enough when picking them up or playing around them.
- Rabbits like to be near their people, but they often would rather not be held.
- They will likely require some veterinary care, which can be expensive. They should be spayed or neutered (by a vet experienced with surgery on rabbits) and they may require vaccinations depending on where you live (see Rabbit Vaccinations from RabbitRehome.org.uk for more on vaccines).
- Rabbit urine can have a strong odor so expect to change their litter box frequently (spaying and neutering can help reduce the odor. In addition, their urine is high in calcium so can leave a chalky residue when it dries that can be hard to clean up (vinegar is pretty effective for this).
More on very important aspects of rabbit care can be found in the Rabbit Care Guide.
Consider Adopting a Shelter Rabbit
- Please consider adopting a rabbit from a shelter or rescue if you have one nearby. There are many perfectly good pet rabbits who need a second chance at finding a forever home. Don't worry about getting an older rabbit--you can get a good sense of their personality and they will bond with new owners just fine.
A special note about Easter and Rabbits:
The association between rabbits and Easter means rabbits are often impulsively acquired as pets at Easter time. Unfortunately, many of these bunnies end up neglected or given up for adoption since those cute little bunnies grow up into rabbits that need as much attention and care as a dog. Rabbits can be destructive if deprived of attention and appropriate toys and need to be spayed or neutered to cut down on behavioral problems and health risks. In addition, rabbits are not ideal pets for children, partly because rabbits usually do not like to be held or cuddled. Always research a potential pet thoroughly to make sure it will be a suitable companion for getting one and avoid the impulse to get a bunny for Easter.