Rabbits come with a lot of questions. These are a few I regularly get asked. Feel free to send in questions you may have so I can add them to the list!
How long do rabbits live?
Since domesticating house rabbits, their lifespan has grown (and continues to grow) over the years. On average, domestic rabbits can live between 10-12 years. Their wild cousins who live outside typically manage four years due to harsher elements and predators.
can rabbits live outside?
That depends what you mean by “rabbit.” Wild rabbits are built to live and thrive outside. Domestic rabbits, however, are a different species to the typical wild rabbit (think of it like domestic cats vs. tigers) and were not bred to live outside. Their body temperatures don’t regulate the same way, they don’t have the same outdoor instincts, and don’t even blend in the same way their wild cousins can camouflage. It is recommended by most shelters and rescues to keep domestic rabbits inside.
Saying that, it doesn’t mean domestic rabbits can’t enjoy a nice day out. Some people successfully train their rabbits to explore outside on a harness or have special outdoor enclosures so they can have fun in the sun just like any other domestic pet. Just be sure your rabbit has a bunny-proof area where birds of prey and other predators can’t easily get a hold of them. Always be aware of your surroundings so your rabbit stays safe.
are rabbits expensive?
The initial upfront costs for rabbits aren’t generally pricey (adoption fees tend to range around $15-$25 in most areas and we only advocate for adopting here at The Quiet One HQ), hence giving the impression they may be a cheaper pet to own.
That’s not necessarily the case. Don’t forget, the smaller the pet, the more stuff you’ll need to own and schlep around. They’re little tricksters who require a lot of gear (i.e. hutch, play area, all the food, bowls, toys, blankets, etc.) and that can start adding up quickly. Added onto that, they also need a variety of green veggies on a daily basis, so unless you have your own garden (that is the dream!) then fresh produce should also be factored in to your monthly rabbit expenses.
Heath-wise and general care maintenance can carry a lofty price tag as well. Even though rabbits are considered to be rodents, veterinarians consider them to be exotic pets (a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me). Most vets don’t treat small animals either, so you have to make sure you find a local vet who specializes in examining rabbits and is aware of their special health needs.
It’s a lot to take into consideration, but if you’re aware of the price tag that goes along with the fluffiness, then you’ll be able to budget accordingly.
Do rabbits get along with other pets?
The short answer? Yes and no.
The more nuanced answer? That depends on the other pets in your house and the bunny you decide to add.
It’s always cute to see those Odd Couple videos from The Dodo, but not every pair makes for a sweet montage. Some cats think the bunny is a new toy, or some dogs may want to play chase, terrifying the poor rabbit. Not all rabbits are angels either and like to tease the other pets! I like to tell people, “You know your pets and their limits. Don’t just add a rabbit because you want to; make sure to take their comfort and boundaries into consideration as well.”
You also don’t have to view it as a “be all end all” situation. Maybe just foster a rabbit for a little while and see how they do with monitored interactions. Never leave animals alone together who are still in the introduction phase and make sure both animals have a safe retreat in case one or the other gets too stressed out.
It’s a dance. Maybe they’ll surprise you and you’ll be the next Dodo’s hit video! Or more than likely, they’ll learn how to happily coexist with slow and proper introductions.
I like to think not, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t encountered a stubborn rabbit or two. There’s a few things to take into consideration when litter training a rabbit:
Make sure they’re spayed/neutered. This is going to help calm those marking behaviors and hormones so they don’t want to claim your entire house with their droppings.
Let them tell you where they want to go. Rabbits are naturally clean animals and will typically pick a place to pile their poo (say that five times fast). If you notice they’ve found a popular spot, then pop their litter box in that spot and they should sort the rest of it out.
Add hay to their litter box or hang their pellets above the box. Because rabbits are constantly eating (they need to always have access to fresh, clean hay), their GI tract keeps things flowing regularly. Keep their digestive track happy and your floors clean by knocking out two birds with one stone, and just add hay to their litter box.
If none of that seems to be doing the trick, try and give them a hint by picking up some of their poo balls and put it directly in their litter box.
are rabbits hard to litter train?
I like to look at this as a two-part question. The first is in relation to their main area and I personally like to give their space a good scrub about once a week (a fun Sunday activity), and do a light tidy up about once or twice a week. This keeps your rabbit happy and healthy, and also limits any sort of unpleasant rabbit smell you want to avoid in your house.
Of course whenever I’m fostering more than one rabbit, I usually have to up the number of days I clean their area out. It’s basic math, but the more rabbits you have, the more poop they’ll generate.
The second is related to whether you should ever bathe your rabbit and to that I'd say NEVER BATHE YOUR RABBIT, EVER.
Because rabbits are naturally clean, they don’t need baths like a dog might (notice there’s not a big market for rabbit shampoo). Rabbits are literally like vegan cats and give themselves a bath. Submerging them in water is dangerous and could lead to a dire situation for both you and your rabbit.
The only time it would be acceptable to give a rabbit any sort of bath would be if they have an unfortunate case of “poopy butt” wherein their stools are soft and leave a mess whenever they use the bathroom getting tangled in their hind end. Soft stools, however, shouldn’t be confused with “cecotropes” which is a nutrient-packed dietary item essential to your rabbit's good health (they kind of resemble blackberries).
If your rabbit does have a case of poopy butt, make sure they’re examined by a vet and you can give them a light butt bath to treat the affected area.