A bunny is not just for Easter…
It’s a common misconception that rabbits are easy to care for pets that don’t need much to keep them happy. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
“A friend of mine recently came to visit, and she was surprised when my two bunnies hopped over to greet us as we entered their room. She said she didn’t know rabbits even liked being petted. Her remarks made me realise that a lot of people are unaware that bunnies can have quite affectionate personalities – and that a strong bond between rabbit and owner can be established.” These are the words of writer and veteran house rabbit owner Abi Cushman. She adds: “Bunnies have very distinct personalities. With time and patience, you will learn what makes your bunny happy. And in return, your bunny will come to trust and appreciate you.”
Rabbits need our understanding
With their soft, fluffy coats, twitchy noses and adorable ways, bunnies can make fabulous pets – as long as they’re cared for properly. Intelligent, territorial, curious and social, rabbits deserve to be better understood – and it’s essential that you brush up on your knowledge of all things bunny before you consider taking them on as pets. And, while rabbits have long been considered as the perfect pets for kids, they have a range of needs that are beyond the capability of young children, and the person responsible for their health and wellbeing should always be an adult.
Dr Richard Saunders, veterinary specialist adviser to Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF), says: “Sadly it remains the case that far too many rabbits continue to have woefully inadequate housing, living alone with little stimulation and are fed incorrect diets, which can lead to numerous health problems.”
Having bunnies in your life can be a wonderful thing, but before you take the plunge into welcoming rabbits into your family, there are lots of things that you need to consider first.
LOVE BUNNIES? For all the latest news on Rabbit Awareness Week 2022, which will be taking place between 27 June – 1 July, and to download a FREE PACK containing lots of great resources for you to share with family and friends sign up here >>
How much do rabbits cost?
Not including how much it costs to actually get some rabbits (you should never just get one) you’ll also need money to cover regular vaccinations, boosters and parasite control, insurance (in case they get ill or injured – there’s no NHS for pets – and premiums will steadily rise as they get older), high quality rabbit nuggets and healthy treats, along with lots of other bunny kit. This may include a waterproof home, exercise run, pet carrier, litterboxes, litter, a pet carrier, bowls, water bottles, grooming tools, enrichment items such as hideouts and hayracks and connecting pipes, and toys. And, if they’re not already neutered and microchipped, you’ll have to pay for that too. You’ll also need to buy lots and lots of top quality feeding hay.
Animal welfare charity PDSA advises that rabbits are social animals and should be kept in pair or small groups, so they have company of their own kind – and estimates that the average monthly cost for a pair of rabbits is £70. So, you should expect a pair of rabbits to cost at least £6,500 - £9,000 over their lifetimes. This is the minimum amount you’ll need to spend to meet your rabbits’ welfare needs. Your rabbits might need lots of health care or you might decide to spend more on them, increasing the cost involved – which could be as high as £30,000.
WANT ALL BUNNIES TO HAVE THE BEST LIFE POSSIBLE? Along with the annual Rabbit Awareness Week, the Rabbit Awareness Action Group (RAAG) has now been established to ensure a greater understanding of rabbits’ health and welfare requirements. RAAG is asking for all rabbit supporters to sign up to the first Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits in England. Add your voice by signing our letter >>
Is your home and garden ready for rabbits?
Rabbits need plenty of space – think garden shed, rather than cramped hutch – in housing that’s protected from the elements and is safe from predators or loud noises that could scare them. They also need a spacious, secure exercise area permanently attached to it.
Their home needs to be tall enough for them to be able to stand up fully without their ears touching the roof and to lie fully outstretched in any direction, to take a number of consecutive hops, and to run, jump, explore and forage and do all the things that come naturally to bunnies.
- Find out more about creating the perfect rabbit environment here >>
If you’re planning on having indoor rabbits, they’ll need a large indoor pen or a ‘rabbit-proofed’ room in your home – remember to protect wires and cables by covering them or removing them from reach as rabbits just love to chew.
- Find out more about creating perfect habitats for indoor rabbits here >>
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How will rabbits fit in with your lifestyle?
Rabbits are very friendly and enjoy interaction with humans as well as their bunny friends. Therefore, it’s important that you make lots of time daily to interact with your buns. Just like people, every bunny is different. So, when it comes to understanding them and growing your relationship, it’s important to start by understanding their different personalities and what things they like to do. As you learn to play games together, providing your buns with new experiences – and providing them with healthy treats to help the bonding process along – it’s also essential to understand the importance of letting them interact with you on their own terms.
- Find out more about bonding with your bunny chums >>
Will you be able to provide them with everything they need?
In order to be happy, bunnies need to be able to display the natural behaviours that they would in the wild. Here are some basics things that can help them do just that:
- FOOD – Access to their body size inhay, a small portion of nuggets and a handful of dark, leafy greens daily. Find out about the Burgess Excel 5-step feeding plan >>
- SPACE – Large housing with spaces to hide and access to a run that’s big enough for them to run around in. Find out more about housing your rabbits >>
- COMPANIONSHIP – Rabbits should always be kept in pairs or small groups. Find out about bonding new bunny buddies >>
- ENRICHMENT – Toys and activities to keep boredom at bay. Find out more about understanding bunny behaviour >>
- WATER – Always ensure fresh clean water is available.
Let’s get social...
Sign up to the Excel Bunny Base – a safe Facebook community for rabbit guardians that are looking for advice and friendly discussions from likeminded owners – and there are lots of cute bunny photos and videos! Also join us on Instagram.
The entire Burgess Rabbit range of rabbit nuggets, feeding hay and treats is made using only the finest quality ingredients and is designed to prevent selective feeding (a common problem with muesli-based diets where rabbits eat some high starch/sugar components, while rejecting the more fibrous pellets, causing all manner of health issues). You’ll also find varieties to suit buns of all ages, from junior, to mature, as well as nuggets for indoor rabbits and a light recipe for rabbits who need to slim down. Naturally high in Beneficial Fibre and fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy eyes, skin and coat, it’s really no wonder that 92% of UK vets recommend our Burgess small pets range.
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