Are you ready for a rabbit?
What are Rabbits Like?
If you haven't had a rabbit before, it’s a good idea to check that your expectations of rabbit ownership match up to the realities. Rabbits are often portrayed as cute bundles of fluff that are happy to sit and be cuddled all day. In reality many rabbits don’t like being picked up, sometimes bite or kick, and they like to dig and chew (sometimes on your furniture). Rabbits will interact with you on their terms, they may allow you an occasional cuddle but they will also want to spend time exercising and running around. Most rabbits prefer you to sit down on the floor with them, rather than pick them up. Personalities vary from rabbit to rabbit, just because Mrs Jones down the road has a pet rabbit that follows her around like a dog doesn't mean yours will too.
To find out what rabbits are really like, you could visit a local rescue and meet some of the adult rabbits (remember bunnies don't stay babies forever). You can also discuss adoption with the staff and volunteers there, they will be able to answer your questions about preparing for a new rabbit. Volunteering at a rescue is a good way to find out about caring and handling animals whilst you make up your mind whether you are ready to commit to one long term.
Before adopting a rabbit or looking for one too adopt you need to consider whether you can provide everything your new bunny(s) will need. A rabbits life span is 7-10 years and you will need to meet your rabbits needs for this length of time.
The Rabbit Welfare Associations Article - Is a rabbit for me? may help you decide whether a rabbit is the right companion for you.
It is important to research the care of rabbits, its much better to read advice and get it right to start with than learn from potentially fatal mistakes. You should be able to find books in the library/bookshop, information on the internet and from your vets or local rescue.
You will find conflicting advise in some places, knowledge about care is continually updated. If you find something thats conflicting or doesn't sound right then find someone to ask, your vet or local rescue should be able to help. Do not ask in a petshop, they are notorious for giving out wrong advice.
Rabbits can live inside or outside, but wherever your rabbit lives in will need lots of space and to be safe and secure.
The generally accepted minimum housing requirements for rabbits are a 6’x2’x2’ hutch with an 8’x4’ run – ideally linked together. However there are lots of alternatives to the traditional hutch and you may decide that a shed, playhouse or aviary will suit you and your rabbit better. The accommodation must be secure from predators, escape attempts and the weather. Rabbits need a warm, dry area to shelter from rain and snow, and shade on hot days.
Indoor rabbits can have a large cage or dog crate, their own room or live free range in the house. You’ll need to provide a litter tray and sleeping area. The house will also need to be 'bunny proofed' to make sure that electrical wires, poisonous plants, book etc will all need to be out of reach. You will also need to be prepared for possible teeth marks in furniture and holes in carpets.
Before purchasing accommodation check with the rescue you plan to adopt from what requirements they set for housing.
Rabbits need a constant supply of hay or fresh grass, and this should make up about 80% of their diet. The rest of their diet is made up of a small portion of good quality rabbit pellets (1-2 egg cups per day for an average rabbit) and a range of fresh vegetables and plants (greens).
Information about diet can be food on the House Rabbit Society Web Site:
Rabbits are social animals and like to have other rabbit company, unless you are going to be with your rabbit most of the day, and even then, it will still appreciate having the companionship of another bunny. Rabbits should be neutered to prevent baby rabbits before being introduced to a friend.
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Rabbits can be expensive pets to keep, easily costing as much as a cat or dog. These are approximate costs, obviously they will vary slightly depending on where a rabbit is kept:
- Yearly vacinations £30
- Food (pellets, vegetables, treats) £3/week
- Hay £2.50/week
- Bedding (Straw) £2.50/week
- Hutch/Run £120+
- Vet care From £10 for teeth triming to £200 for setting a broken leg
In short, excluding vet care, a rabbit will cost an average of £8/week which means £416 a year.
The biggest expense is unplanned vet bills which can cost hundreds of pounds. One option is to take out pet insurance to help with the cost of vet bills.More about the Cost of Rabbit Ownership