Are you ready for rabbits?
Rabbits have long been considered as the perfect pets for kids – an adorable, fluffy bundle of bunny seems an ideal choice. However, rabbits 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.
The cost: can you afford it?
Not including how much it costs to actually get some rabbits (you should never just get one – more on that later...) 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, 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 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 quality feeding hay.
DID YOU KNOW?
The 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 which will increase the cost involved – which could be as high as £30,000.
Your home and garden: is it rabbit friendly?
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.
- Check out these fun interactive graphics on 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 >>
Can you help your rabbits to act like rabbits?
This may sound strange, but 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:
- Water – Always ensure fresh clean water is available
- Food – Access to their body size in hay, a small bowl of nuggets and a handful of dark, leafy greens daily. Find out about the Burgess Excel 5 step feeding plan here >>
- Space – Large housing with spaces to hide and access to a run that’s big enough for them to run around in
- Companions – Rabbits should always be kept in pairs or small groups
- Enrichment – Toys and activities to keep boredom at bay
Discover lots more behaviour advice and top tips at the bun-tastic Rabbit Awareness Week website here >>
Your lifestyle: how will rabbits fit in?
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. Find out how to be the best pet owner you can be here >>
Getting some bunnies: where will you get your new friends from?
Leading animal welfare charity rehoming centres such as: Blue Cross, RSPCA and Wood Green have all sorts of rabbits looking for loving homes. Reputable welfare organisations will health check their buns and many do ‘temperament testing’ to try match the most suitable rabbits to your home and lifestyle. They’ll also offer plenty of helpful advice on caring for your new bunnies and provide you with post-adoption support.
The PDSA has the following advice:
Getting your rabbits from other animal rescue centres or sanctuaries
There are lots of rescue centres and sanctuaries that are not run by leading animal welfare organisations. They are mostly run by committed, well-intentioned people, but try to check the health standards of the rabbits and their living conditions before rehoming a pet from them.
Getting your rabbits from a friend or family member
You can sometimes get rabbits from people you know and trust. Always check your new rabbits are healthy and have been handled from a young age.
Pet shops often have rabbits for sale. If you do get rabbits from a pet shop, make sure you check they are healthy and well cared for. Avoid buying from newspapers or website.
- Try to choose your rabbits from a place where the living environment is clean and hygienic and contains suitable bedding, nest box, toys and food.
- Your rabbits should be bright and alert when awake.
- They should not have any discharges around their eyes, nose, ears or bottom.
- It’s best if rabbits have been gently handled regularly from a young age to help get them used to people.
If you found this interesting you may also like:
RABBITS SHOULD EAT A CARROT A DAY – AND OTHER BUNNY MYTHS Find out what you should feed your rabbit to ensure they have a diet that’s nutritionally right for them and their specialised digestive system…
WHY IT'S ALL ABOUT THE HAY For rabbits, grass and hay is the most important component of their diet – and not any old hay will do, as Burgess in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes explains…
THE FIVE THINGS EVERY BUNNY OWNER NEEDS TO KNOW If you love your rabbits then you’ll want to ensure they have everything they need to enjoy a happy, healthy life
BUNNY TALK Rabbits are highly social animals with a complex language all of their own. By learning to understand their body postures, behaviours and vocalisations, you’ll uncover their individual personalities
HOW TO BE A GOLD-STAR INDOOR BUNNY OWNER Indoor rabbits make fabulous house pets, as long as you provide these smart and sociable animals with everything they need to be healthy, happy bunnies
MAKING HAY-TIME PLAYTIME FOR BUNNIES Rabbits need to eat their own body size in hay every day to stay healthy. Our in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes advises on how to help your bunnies munch their way through their daily ration by making hay-time a fun experience
HOW TO HANDLE YOUR RABBITS The way you pick up your rabbits has a direct impact on their welfare, according to latest research. Our in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes explains the right ways to handle your rabbits with care
BONDING WITH YOUR SMALL PETS Hand feeding is a great way to build a closer bond with small animals. It takes time to build trust, but when your little friend finally feels confident enough to take a treat from your hand, it’s a special moment
Sources: pdsa.org.uk, rspca.org.uk, rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk