There is so much to love about rabbits. They are affectionate, social, and, quite frankly, pretty darn awesome! Perhaps that is why they are one of the best exotic pets to add to your family.
A rabbit can be an excellent house pet when adequately socialized and when you understand them. However, rabbits require more care than most people expect. So, you'll want to ensure that you are fully prepared.
Let's weigh the pros and cons of having a pet rabbit.
Pros of Pet Rabbit Ownership
Oh, rabbit, rabbit, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
The benefits of rabbit ownership are innumerable, but we've broken down some of the most common ones to help you determine whether or not a rabbit would be a good fit for you.
1. Rabbits are quiet.
Rabbits are one of the quietest pets you can have, making them a great choice for those who live in apartments and other close-proximity housing situations. The peaceful nature of rabbits also makes them a perfect match for those with a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle.
Although rabbits are quiet, gentle animals, a rabbit will thump its hind legs when scared or angry. The thump can be surprisingly loud and usually is a sign of one or two things:
Your rabbit is angry or frustrated. A rabbit usually sends this message with one loud thump.
Your rabbit is worried or scared. In this case, the rabbit will continuously thump while its body remains rigid.
When a rabbit parent does their job keeping the animal's environment stress-free, they will likely only thump when something scary happens, like when mom or dad vacuums the floor.
2. Rabbits use litterboxes.
Most rabbits that are adopted as adults are usually trained to use the litter box already, but even when they're not, they can be taught quite easily. Rabbits are clean animals that like to limit their waste to one location. However, rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered may be more difficult to litter train because they use their urine and poop to mark their territory.
3. Rabbits don't smell.
Many people think rabbits are messy and smelly, but that's a myth. Rabbits are meticulously clean and spend a lot of time grooming themselves. They have no discernible odor, and their poop barely smells. A rabbit's urine does have a powerful smell, but if you clean their enclosure regularly and scoop their litter pan daily, there should be no problems with odor.
4. Rabbits live a long time.
A pet rabbit has a ten-year lifespan on average. That long life span means that you should not decide to bring home a pet rabbit lightly because they will be a part of your family for years to come.
5. Rabbits are trainable.
Like a dog, a rabbit is an intelligent animal that can be easily trained. Rabbits can be trained to give kisses, respond when called, and even complete obstacle courses. Teaching your rabbit new tricks is a great way to bond with them.
6. Rabbits are gentle, friendly, and affectionate.
Rabbits are gentle. Although they might be shy at first, it won't take long for them to warm up to their human counterparts. Rabbits are incredibly social and love hanging out with their humans, often demanding attention and affection. When you come home from a long day at work, it is not uncommon for your rabbit to run circles at your feet because they are excited that you are home.
While rabbits can be aggressive, it is usually limited to situations where they feel cornered or afraid. Rabbits can become aggressively territorial if they aren't spayed or neutered.
Cons of Rabbit Ownership
A pet rabbit can sometimes be more than a person can handle. Although they aren't the most challenging animal to care for, there are some drawbacks to consider before taking on the responsibility of rabbit ownership.
1. Rabbits chew everything.
A rabbit's teeth grow like fingernails. As a result, rabbits need to do a lot of chewing to keep their teeth from overgrowing. Therefore, the rabbit's instinct is to chew. Wooden objects, like baseboards and furniture, are prime targets for rabbits, but they also love to chew on wires. Rabbits also instinctively try and dig tunnels, especially in a room's corners. They have been known to destroy carpets and flooring.
2. Rabbits hate being held.
Rabbits look like big cuddly balls of fur yearning to be hugged and squeezed, but rabbits get anxious and scared when trapped in a human's arms. Most (not all) rabbits don't like being held, and picking them up too much may cause them to run away whenever you approach. It is also important to note that rabbits are fragile with delicate bone structures, so care should always be taken when handling a rabbit.
3. Rabbits need space.
Most rabbit cages sold in stores are too small. Your rabbit's enclosure should be three to four times its entire body length when sprawled out, nose to toe. Even small rabbits, measuring one foot, require a three to four-foot enclosure.
4. Rabbits need attention.
Rabbits are social creatures and need attention. When left alone for too long, a rabbit will become bored and depressed, leading them to act out for attention. Rabbits are also notorious shedders. When welcoming a pet rabbit, be prepared for a fur frenzy, regardless of the breed.
5. Rabbits have complicated diets.
A rabbit has a sensitive digestive system requiring a specific diet. Unlike dogs or cats, you can't give a rabbit a bowl of kibble and call it a day. Rabbits with unhealthy diets risk serious gastrointestinal complications that can cause distress and death.
6. Rabbit vet care is expensive.
A rabbit's anatomy is quite different from that of a cat or a dog. As a result, you'll need to take your rabbit to a vet specializing in small pets. When finding affordable rabbit care, options are limited, and emergency care can quickly become unmanageable. Remember, like cats and dogs, a rabbit also requires regular vaccinations.
Is A Pet Rabbit Right for You and Your Family?
The decision to bring any new pet into your home is significant and should never be rushed. Now that you've weighed the pros and cons of pet rabbit ownership, you can better determine if a pet rabbit is a right fit for your family. If you are still on the fence, talk to others knowledgeable about rabbit care and routines, such as veterinarians specializing in small pets and experienced exotic pet sitters like us in your area.