Applause to MSN for featuring a story about the true costs of keeping a rabbit–just in time for Easter. These misunderstood animals are often purchased as “living toys” for children on the holiday…with often predictable results for the bunny.
What a pet rabbit really costs
Rabbits aren’t like hamsters. You can’t leave them in a cage all day, feed them nothing but cheap pellets, clean their cage once a week, never take them to the vet and be secure in the knowledge they’ll be dead in two or three years. Here are the rabbit facts:
- Pet rabbits are a long-term commitment. The House Rabbit Society says pet rabbits live eight to 12 years. One of my bunnies is 8 years old and still perfectly healthy. His wife lived to be 12. And my vet (who specializes in rabbits) tells me she’s seen plenty of bunnies live to 15.
- Rabbits are a lot of time and work. They need to run around outside of their cages. The House Rabbit Society recommends 30 hours of exercise a week. But first you’ll have to rabbit-proof your home so they don’t chew through electrical cords or gnaw on wood furniture. My younger (and feistier) bunny has destroyed everything from lamps to pricey electronics after sneaking out of her enclosure and into rooms that weren’t rabbit-proofed.
- Rabbits must be spayed or neutered. This isn’t just to prevent them from reproducing like, well, rabbits. It prevents health complications (like cancer) and behavioral problems (like spraying urine on the wall). They can be litter-trained, but either way, the litter box or the cage requires daily cleaning.
- Most rabbit breeds also shed several times a year. All my bunnies have always gradually shed their entire coat. During the shedding period, which lasts several weeks, they require daily brushing to keep it under control. But even then, fur seems to get everywhere, especially on my clothes. I go through a lot of lint rollers.
- Rabbits aren’t cheap eaters. They need a constant supply of fresh water and fresh hay. Yes, hay. (Long story short, it’s vital for their digestive health.) I buy hay in 50-pound bales because it’s cheapest. But that much hay still costs $50 to $65, multiplied by several orders a year. Rabbits also need a couple of cups of fresh vegetables daily and rabbit pellets at least weekly.