I’ve owned house rabbits for just over two years now and while they are incredibly complex animals, that require a lot of hard work, they can be really rewarding pets to have too. Cuddly, entertaining and great companions, buying my first rabbit was the best choice I made when I first moved out on my own.
But there are a few things I think everyone should know before they decide to buy a rabbit:
1. They can live for around 10-12 years
Sadly Pip didn’t get that long as he had a few genetic issues and it ended up being kinder to put him to sleep, but generally speaking a rabbit that is fit and healthy can live for up to 12 years, some even live longer than that. So they are by no means a short term investment.
2. They need a LOT of space
Long gone are the days when we thought it was ok to keep a rabbit in a small hutch. In fact, those days actually stem from the Victorian era when rabbits were kept in small hutches prior to being killed and eaten. Not quite the environment for a pet, right? Rabbits actually need a huge amount of space – if you’ve ever seen a rabbit in the midst of their zoomies then you will know why. Their living space should be a minimum of 2ft wide by 2 ft high by 6 ft long, with a run attached.
3. They love to play
Rabbits are such playful animals. They are without a doubt the most entertaining of any pet I’ve ever had. They each have such amazing personalities, while Pip was bold, loved cuddles and craved attention, Tink is timid, will occasionally sit with me for a brief amount of time in the evenings and is quite content playing with his toys. But they were both playful. Zoomies across the house, complete with binkies (their jumps in the air) are a regular sight and it’s so entertaining to watch.
4. They aren’t cheap pets
There is a wildly inaccurate belief that smaller animals cost less and it really isn’t the case. You will need to take your pet to a rabbit savvy vet for check ups, vaccinations, claw trimming for starters, and if they need medical help, the costs can quickly rack up. Besides that, they need a constant rotation of toys to keep them occupied, regular fresh greens, an unlimited supply of hay and a safe environment to live in.
5. House rabbits can be destructive
There is no denying it, rabbits can be destructive and no matter how much you rabbit proof your home, they will no doubt find something that they can sink their teeth into (quite literally). The second you say no to them, they will become fixated on getting to whatever area/piece of furniture/beloved item of yours that they have now been told is off limits. Trust me, I have got through more phone chargers than I care to count, have bite marks in most of my favourite journals and a few little nibble marks throughout the house.
6. But they can also be trained
But rabbits are also very clever animals so they can be trained, to both be less destructive, to come when they are called, and to be litter trained. So all hope is not lost. You just have to get through the (literal) teething months first.
7. Rabbits need to be vaccinated
Many people are shocked when I saw that rabbits need vaccinations. If you’re buying a young rabbit they will need vaccinating against myxomatosis and RHD1, followed up by another RHD2 vaccination two weeks later. After that, they need an annual booster.
8. Both the males and females should be neutered
If you’re keeping two rabbits together it is even more important that they are neutered but even if you’re not, it’s highly recommended. Neutering can prevent the females from developing cancer, whilst it helps to calm the males down as otherwise their hormones can kick in and they can become aggressive.
9. They are fantastic companions
If you’ve got the time to dedicate to them, adequate space to house them in and a lot of patience, owning a house rabbit is so rewarding and they will become fantastic little companions for you. They will be waiting for you to get home, they will often curl up besides you on the sofa in the evenings and they will forever make you laugh with their hilarious antics.
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