Rabbits can make great pets. But are they a good fit for your home or lifestyle? Before you run to the pet store, you should know the pros and cons of having a pet rabbit.
Rabbit ownership can be extremely rewarding, but there are some important things you need to know to keep you and your bunny happy, healthy, and safe. Despite the popular belief that rabbits are easy pets to take care of they actually require a good amount of attention.
Here are ten reasons you should own a rabbit, and five reasons you shouldn’t.
10 Reasons Rabbits Make Good Pets
1. Rabbits Have a Great Personality
There’s no denying it, rabbits are fun. Fluffy noses move hilariously as they nibble on leafy green vegetables.
You will giggle with delight as your mini rex moves his ears, listening in all directions.
Once you and your pet bunny have formed a bond, don’t be surprised if you get some loving licks.
Don’t always expect a rabbit to let you brush them though, and forcing it is not the way to earn your animal’s long-term affection.
There are a few other no-nos in the handling department with rabbits, which we will expand on later, but overall you will find them to be very engaged and intelligent.
Don’t be surprised to see them jump up on the couch and nuzzle your hand. They can even be pushy in their requests for petting, bumping your hand with their head as if to say, “Is that all?”
Some research into rabbit breeds can go a long way. Some are bred for their loving personality while others are produced for fur and meat. Knowing the difference is worth it long term.
2. Rabbits are Quiet
Rabbits are quiet, no doubt about it. As prey animals, wild rabbits utilize camouflage and hold perfectly still to fool their predators.
If that doesn’t work, they run. Unlike a dog or cat, you will not be kept up at night with the begging, meowing, barking, and (for us big dog owners) panting and snoring.
Rabbits can scream, but if you are handling your rabbit correctly, you should never hear this sound. They do not shout for food like guinea pigs, so if they scream, something happened.
The other sign of alarm is if your rabbit thumps their feet loudly on the ground. This is a warning to other rabbits and can be felt pretty strong through the floor.
Analyze the situation, your rabbit may be warning you about a coyote on TV. Also, people are big to a rabbit and startle them occasionally.
3. Pet Rabbits Only Need Small Spaces
By small spaces, we’re referring to condos and small apartments, not tiny cages. Rabbits don’t need much space.
The average studio or small apartment has more than enough room for them to be perfectly happy.
For exercise, a Rabbit can get by with a couple of hundred square feet. That is more than enough for a rabbit’s daily exercise needs.
Remember, as a prey animal, it is not in a rabbit’s nature to want to cross wide-open areas and adventure into the wild blue.
It prefers to have quick access to its burrow at all times, so try not to corner or trap it in your interactions. Once the rabbit feels comfortable and at home, don’t be surprised to see it zoom around the room.
You will be shocked at a rabbit’s quickness! If you have the resources, a small obstacle course can be created.
Obstacle courses don’t require lots of space are a great way for your pet rabbit to get daily exercise and the mental stimulation they need to be healthy.
4. Rabbits Produce Free Garden Fertilizer
If you have a garden, you’ll be thrilled at the volume of fertilizer your rabbit can produce. Rabbit droppings don’t need composting, similar to goat and alpaca, as it is cold manure.
Place it into your garden and begin reaping the soil building benefits. If you don’t have a garden, it might be worth the effort to track down someone who does so you don’t waste these valuable nutrients.
The great thing is that this same waste product can grow your rabbit more leafy greens, creating a small permaculture ecosystem built around one animal.
5. Pet Rabbit Lifespan
Rabbits live to a ripe old age by the standards of small pets. The average domestic rabbit can live for between 8 – 12 years, depending on the breed.
In contrast, this makes rabbits seem nearly immortal by hamster owner’s standards, as they only live one to three years on average.
This longevity means that you will need to make an effort to socialize from the very beginning, creating a strong bond that will last around a decade.
It is very unfortunate, but a large number of rabbits are sold by unscrupulous or unwitting pet stores around Easter, only to have those bunnies end up at animal shelters.
This doesn’t need to be you. By reading the reasons below, you can have your eyes wide open going into rabbit ownership and benefit both yourself and your pet for years to come.
6. Rabbits are Cute
Bunnies are cute to everyone! From their large whiskers, happily dancing as they chew on lettuce, to their soft fur and sometimes floppy ears, you will have your heart melted by a rabbit’s eyes.
Domestic rabbits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. From Dutch rabbits to American Fuzzy Lops and even mini lops, there is a bunny for every unique owner.
7. Rabbits are Litter Box Trainable
Rabbits can be trained to utilize and love a litter box. They especially like it if they can do their business with some level of privacy.
Placing a plastic splash guard around the area can keep that urine and rabbit poop firmly put in its place.
As mentioned, a quick trip to the garden in summer, or a holding tank or compost in winter should keep your daily tasks to a pleasant minimum on the fecal front.
Buy one or rescue a rabbit that has had this procedure, or make an appointment to get it done, pronto. You are fighting instinct otherwise, and you will lose.
8. Rabbits are Good Therapy Animals
We talked about the fact that rabbits are quiet, but they also have inherently low-key energy.
They might race around your feet for a minute when you get home from work, but overall they are calm and relaxed companions.
That soft fur is also perfect for petting and letting your stress fade away. Due to these chill vibes, rabbits make great support animals.
Please read the five reasons not to get a rabbit though, because failure to do so might cause the opposite effect if you are not up (or down) to your rabbit’s speed.
9. Rabbits Can Do Tricks
Actual tricks might be a stretch, but compared to other pocket-size pets, rabbits are animal Einsteins.
Once they are comfortable and know you are safe, they will respond to their names and are quite happy to hop over for a treat and petting.
Teaching them to sit or play dead might not be in the equation, but you can utilize your imagination as long as you are not trying to force the action.
Rabbits do not appreciate loud noises in any shape or fashion, so try to keep it realistic and not get frustrated.
Raising your voice to your rabbit could undo weeks of work. Stay calm and try to do tasks that fit with their biology. The results can be very rewarding.
10. Rabbits are Unique
This may be subjective, but rabbits are the road less taken. They give their owners a different perspective and life rhythm.
Their gentle character rubs off a little, and you’ll notice that rabbit owners are a bit of a “different breed.” Did the rabbit find them, or did they find the rabbit?
We’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. They did their research and are aware of the things you are about to read. Let’s see what the other side of the coin looks like.
Five Reasons Rabbits Are Not Good Pets
1. Rabbits Chew Things
Rabbits have continuously growing teeth, similar to rodents. They chew. Everything. They will chew your cardboard boxes, books, and most alarmingly, your electrical cords.
This is dangerous to the rabbit and owner, so care must be taken to secure all electrical cords. If you are a person of expensive tastes and furnishings, a rabbit might not be a good pet.
You would be amazed at the level of damage rabbits’ teeth can do to something!
If you don’t like clutter and can monitor your rabbit during playtime, you can keep this chewing to a minimum. Be aware though, it will happen so have a spare HDMI cord!
2. Rabbits Dig
Rabbits love to find a small corner of the carpet and try digging to the earth’s center. They can’t help it. Rabbits love to burrow. It is just their instinct.
If you are keeping a close eye on your bunny, you can probably be spared this fate. Release it to its own devices for too long though, you might just have a hole in something to deal with.
3. Rabbits Don’t Like to Be Held
As prey animals that need their speed to survive, rabbits like to keep their feet on the ground and will often struggle when lifted.
This means it is all too easy to break your rabbit’s delicate bones by trying to force it to be held off the ground.
This, unfortunately also means that young children should not be bunny owners in my opinion. They can be helpers, but your toddler requires supervision.
Rabbits can be broken, quickly, and this means small children and rabbits don’t mix. Older kids can make great rabbit owners if they have reached an age where you trust them with that responsibility.
If you do have to pick your rabbit up, make sure you are supporting its rump. Hold them firmly, but gently.
4. Rabbits Have Specific Dietary Needs
Rabbits have some specific dietary needs that you need to know to keep your furry friend a healthy bunny.
It is a good idea to source the feed for your pet rabbit and make sure you are comfortable with the cost and supply.
Hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables are all on the menu and while they are clean animals, they are not always clean eaters, particularly with the pellets.
They can often grab a food dish and get pretty aggressive if they are hungry sending food everywhere. A broom and some patience will suffice if you love your lagomorph.
5. Pet Rabbits Can Be Expensive
Rabbits need a cage that is slightly larger than most people would imagine. They also need the aforementioned gourmet cuisine.
The most unknown cost though will be veterinary bills. It may not be possible to find a vet in your area that focuses on small animals.
You may want to call a few local vets to see what they charge for checkups and emergency services. If those costs are prohibitive for you, maybe a pet rabbit should not be in your future.
Related Pet Rabbit Questions
Where Should I Buy a Pet Rabbit?
As with any pet, adopting an animal is a great way to start. Call around to your local animal shelters and ask if they have any rabbits to adopt.
If you can’t find a rabbit to adopt check out the House Rabbit Society. They are an internationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to rabbit rescue and adoption.
If you are in the United Kingdom, the Rabbit Welfare Association performs the same types of functions as the House Rabbit Society. Both are great sources of information about pet rabbits.
You can often find pet bunnies at reputable pet stores.
How Much Does a Pet Rabbit Cost?
From your local pet shop, you can expect to pay between $25 to $35 for a rabbit. Maybe half that from an animal shelter.
What is the Best Breed of Rabbit for a Pet?
I would suggest that the best breeds of rabbits for a pet are the ones that best suit your particular situation. Having said that here are my top five pet rabbit breeds!
- Mini Rex
- Dutch Rabbit
- Mini Lop
- Lionhead Rabbit
- Harlequin Rabbit
What are Female Rabbits Called?
Female rabbits are called does.
What are Male Rabbits Called?
Male rabbits are called bucks.
What are Baby Rabbits Called?
Baby rabbits are called kittens.
Is it Cruel to Keep a Rabbit as a Pet?
According to The Humane Society of the United States, rabbits can make wonderful pets but they do require a lot of care.
So I would suggest that it is not cruel to keep a rabbit as a pet if you make sure they have the proper nutrition and care.
Rabbits can be good pets and bring great joy to those who take the time to create a bond with these cute and lovable animals.
However, they can also be a source of headaches for those who get a pet rabbit without first understanding the requirements.