If you are considering purchasing or adopting a pet rabbit, you should first give careful consideration to the demands and rewards of these very special pets. Countless homes have been brightened by the presence of a long-eared lodger, and conscientious rabbit keepers have many years of fulfilling interaction and bonding to look forward to. At the same time, every year thousands of rabbits are given up to animal shelters- or worse, simply dumped in a field- by owners who did not take the time to properly educate themselves on the responsibilities of rabbit ownership. Here you can find the basic information needed to answer the question: Is a rabbit right for me?
Rabbits require daily and weekly care and maintenance, as well as a significant monetary investment. When well-cared for, rabbits typically live 9-12 years, so this is a long-term commitment. Just think- if you buy a pet rabbit for your 12 year-old, the rabbit will likely still be alive when that child moves out of the home. If you simply want a pet that will amuse a young child for a little while, consider a rat or other shorter-lived creature.
Beginning with financial costs, here is a brief summary of the requirements of rabbit ownership.
- The rabbit itself. Your best bet is to adopt from an animal shelter. In addition to saving the animal’s life, you’ll be bypassing the morally dubious world of rabbit breeders and pet stores, which often show little to no competence or regard for the animals’ well-being. And if that isn’t enough of a reason to adopt, it is the cheaper option by far- apart from negating the price of the rabbit itself, the animal shelter should always spay or neuter the rabbit for you. This procedure usually costs $200 or more to have done by a private veterinarian, whereas the typical cost to adopt a rabbit (already spayed/neutered) is around $30.
- A rabbit cage. These come in a wide range of prices depending on size and many other factors, but you should not skimp on this purchase, as it will likely need to last a long time. Even if you can comfortably house an immature rabbit in a smaller cage, remember that it will continue to grow up to the age of 6-8 months. A typical cage costs between $50 – $100.
- A litter pan. Rabbits are some of the easiest pets to litter-train, and the alternative to a litter pan is constant cleaning of their cage. Average price is around $10.
- A water bottle or dish. As much as you might like to save some money, don’t bother putting a plastic cereal bowl or similar substitute into the rabbit cage. The rabbit is almost guaranteed to flip the bowl over, not only depriving the rabbit of water, but also soaking the bedding, which will become unsanitary. Use either a small pet water bottle, or a heavy crock. Typical cost is around $5.
- Rabbit feeder. Again, you need either a heavy crock, or (preferably) a bin feeder that will attach to the side of the cage. Price is around $10.
- Rabbit brush. Regular brushing of your rabbits fur is important to prevent potentially lethal hairballs from forming in its gut. Price is $8 – $10.
- Rabbit nail trimmers. Unless your rabbit is going to have lots of time to dig and run over hard, rough surfaces, which is unlikely, you’ll need to periodically trim its nails. Prices range from $5 to over $15.
- Toys. Rabbits are lively, intelligent animals that need stimulation and exercise. There are a wide variety of household items that can be converted into rabbit toys with little effort, but there are also many commercial toys available. These usually run a couple bucks each.
- Total initial outlay: $350 dollars or more, or $180 if adopted. (Continued…)