Rabbits are amazing pets to have around, but there's nothing simple, easy or cheap about them. Rabbits are typically seen as being 'starter pets', or pets to get if you can't afford a cat or dog. But they take just as much time and money to care for, and sometimes even more. There's also the fact that rabbits need the companionship of at least one other rabbit- so you can't just get one!
So before you take some bunnies into your home, here are a few things you need to think about . . .
Rabbits take a lot of time to care for. You need have the time each day to clean up their space, empty their litter boxes, make sure they have fresh hay and water, groom them, . You also need to be able to spend time just being with them and getting to know them, and to be able take them to vet appointments- often with just a few hours notice.
Rabbits are not cheap pets to care for, so it's really important that before you commit, you make sure you've got the money. The PDSA suggests a cost of £6000-£9000 over a rabbit's lifetime, and this really is a minimum.
In the first instance, you'll need to set up a living space for them. Given that this needs to be bunny-safe, predator proof, weather proof and give them enough space to exercise in, this can end up pretty expensive. For an outdoor setup, expect this to cost around £700- £1000. Then there's their litter boxes, carriers, hides & shelters, water bowls, and lots of toys to keep them busy.
In terms of monthly costs, you'll also need to be able to pay for your rabbits hay, herbs, dried forage and new enrichment. This might not sound like much, but two bunnies can (and should) eat their way through a lot of hay, and toys don't tend to last too long either. If decide to go for insurance as well, this is usually about an extra £10/month per bunny.
And for your yearly costs, you'll need to be able to pay for your rabbits vaccinations and health checks. Rabbits need to be vaccinated every year against RHD1, RHD2 and Myxomatosis. At about 6 months old your rabbits will also need to be neutered, which usually costs at least £90 for males, and over £100 for females.
And your largest expenses are likely to be your unplanned vet bills. Rabbits can suffer from a lot of different health problems, and are also prone to needing out of hours vet care. It's impossible to predict how much a bunny is going to cost in terms of their vet bills, but just a consultation can be up to £40-50 and out of hours consults usually start at around £200, and that's without the treatment they'll need.
So even if you know you have the money to care for bunnies, you still need to be sure you have the space. Rabbits need 24/7 access to a living space of at least 2x3m (6x10ft) and again this is really a minimum. Wild rabbits naturally cover a huge territory, and although we can't replicate this for our pet rabbits, it's important to give them as much space as possible, so that they can get the exercise and enrichment they need.
So finally, you need to think about why you want to take on rabbits. If you haven't already guessed, rabbits are a big commitment. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to be able to give rabbits the lives they deserve, and it needs to be something you're sure you want to do. All of this also means that they don't make good pets for kids.
Thanks for reading! If you decide that rabbits are the right pet for you, why not check out our other rabbit care posts and find out more about how to care for your new pet rabbits