You’ve just gotten yourself a new rabbit pet and you obviously want what’s best for him. But rather than going down the rabbit burrow and finding out how their home looks like, here are our top picks for making sure your friend is warm, cozy and happy in your house.
Nowadays, it’s fairly common knowledge how long pets like cats and dogs live, because everybody has them. Rabbits, on the other hand, are a bit trickier to research since every time somebody thinks they know something, a rabbit will come along and prove them wrong.
Average rabbit lifespans
Same as with other species, domestic rabbits tend to live longer than their wild cousins. The reason for this is that wild rabbits can only live for a few years due to a combination of diseases, starvation and natural predators. On the other hand, domestic ones usually live between eight and twelve years due to veterinarians having better knowledge these days.
A few decades ago, for example, rabbit lifespans were thought to be a maximum of three to five years, due to so little research having been made on them. While science advancement is, of course, a factor, people today tend to also be more responsible with their furry pets, feeding them the proper food and keeping them inside more often, where there is no risk of predators.
When it comes to rabbit breeds, it’s fairly difficult to determine which one lives longer than others, because there are many other factors to be taken into consideration. However, larger breeds will usually have a shorter lifespan than their smaller cousins.
How to make your rabbit live longer
You should really think things through if you plan on getting a pet rabbit, as they really aren’t as low-maintenance as they seem to be. Much of a rabbit’s happiness and longevity is directly linked to how well the owner cares for them. About 35 years ago, people started caring for them better and many of the tips fall into four major categories.
Food: Loose hay should make up for the majority of a rabbit’s diet. Things like commercial pellets, which used to be popular in the past, have been proven to not be very effective. Your furry friend needs a high-fiber diet with the main course consisting of leafy greens like kale and endives. Once in a while, you can add-in a side dish of treats, but don’t be very generous with them.
Housing: A large pen is desirable, but a rabbit-proofed room is even better. Cover all the wires, clear-out the books from the bottom shelves and move your grandma’s beloved antique furniture to another room. Rabbits will pretty much chew anything they can get their hands (teeth) on so you have to be careful with this.
Another thing to remember is that your long-eared buddy still needs plenty of time to be active outside the pen for it to be happy and healthy. The ideal time would be about three or four hours every day, so you can see that raising a bunny is no easy job. Make sure your rabbit does not have access to high places as they can climb up and get injured trying to come back down.
Veterinary care: Better veterinarians are one of the reasons rabbits live longer nowadays, so you will want to take yours to one with a great deal of experience. It’s recommended that your first trip together is to the local friendly vet, followed by your annual- Hello, how are you, let me see your ears- check-in.
Keep in mind that older rabbits can experience rapid changes in a small amount of time, so pay a lot of attention to them. Life expectancy can also be increased by things like spaying and neutering, seeing how unspayed rabbit females have a high risk of developing uterine or mammary cancer.
Toys and mental work: Bunnies are active pets who tend to get bored easily, so you need to always keep things fun. If they’re not mentally stimulated, they might find something else to do, like chewing at your baseboards, and this is something that won’t end fun for any of you. Be creative! Take a cardboard toilet paper tube and stuff it with hay and your friend will love it.
Signs to look out for
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are brave creatures who tend to hide their illnesses. This is another reason why you must be very in-tune with your companion so you can make sure and notice when something is off.
Gastrointestinal stasis can be a common cause of death for rabbits. This can come from numerous causes, from dehydration, stress or a blockage. Since it can be a fatal disease, make sure to watch out if the bunny is eating or if it has smaller droppings than usual.
Other causes include injury, heart attacks due to stress, cancer or poisoning. As you can see, many of these can be prevented by simply taking care of your rabbit and giving it an active place in your day-to-day life.
This is a long-term pet, so you should always stay informed on the latest discoveries regarding nutrition and toys. Older rabbits are more disease-prone, so a good owner will educate himself on everything that can be regarded as a symptom.
Are you rabbit-adaptable?
Since we talked about how to keep your long-eared companion safe and happy, let’s go through some positive outcomes from having a bunny just to make sure you can be the right fit for them.
First of all, if you are looking for a pet who is as interactive as a dog but not as loud, you just found it! What’s more, they are also fairly quiet so you won’t have neighbors knocking on your door because of your rabbit’s barking. Furthermore, bunnies also have strong personalities so once you two become buddies it will be an endless source of fun.
If you take care of them correctly and follow this guide, your rabbit can live up to 8,10 or even 12 years. With a little luck, you may even break the record for the oldest domestic bunny which was 17 years and 10 months. Good luck!