Rabbits are charismatic, inquisitive and intelligent beings. They can be wonderful pets, if you can offer them sufficient space and time, and the ability to express natural behaviours such as company with their own species, and plenty of food to forage on. We must also consider the financial implications of welcoming a Peter Rabbit or a Bugs Bunny into our lives; despite their small size, regular vet trips on top of bedding and food costs can really add up! Let’s have a look at some of the costs of getting – and keeping! – a long-eared friend.
One off costs
- A home! A rabbit will need a large hutch to stretch his powerful legs in, and, ideally, an outdoor run too. A nice outdoor home for your rabbit can cost around £200, and often considerably more, and will require replacement or fixing if the wood begins to rot. Indoor homes can be under half the price of an outdoor run, but do be careful to ensure your rabbit has enough space to take big hops comfortably, stand up on his hind legs, and lie down fully stretched out.
- Water bottles and food dishes. Equipment like this will also need to be bought, and many people decide to use a hay-rack, fitted inside their rabbit’s home, to enable them to keep their bedding and food separate. It is also a great idea to get your rabbit toys to gnaw on, and wear down their ever-erupting teeth.
- Castration and spaying. It is highly advisable to have a doe (female rabbit) spayed, or a buck (male rabbit) neutered. These procedures can prevent cancers in both males (testicular cancer), and females (uterine and ovarian, and greatly reduce the chance of mammary tumours). It will also allow you to keep bucks together with a reduced chance of fighting, or mixed-sex pairings without the risk of some kittens! (A ‘kitten’ is the term used for baby rabbits.)
The expenditures don’t stop once you have bought and housed your rabbit; in fact, that’s only the tip of the iceberg (lettuce)!
- Food! Rabbits will require a small amount of specially formulated rabbit food, as well as plenty of green, leafy vegetables, hay and grass to keep their incredible guts moving along. The prices of rabbit food are very variable and, of course, a Continental Giant will require more than a Netherland Dwarf!
- Bedding. Rabbits love to make little nests, and will require ample, thick, clean bedding to prevent conditions such as pododermatitis (sore feet and hocks). Wood-chip shavings and a nest of hay are often advisable, however, rabbits will most probably eat the hay, so be careful in our overweight friends.
- Veterinary bills. Rabbits will need to be vaccinated against Myxomatosis; this virus can cause large sores on the rabbit, a severe eye inflammation and infection (conjunctivitis), and severe secondary bacterial infections. Couple all of this horribleness with inappetence, and the virus will almost certainly kill your rabbit. We must also protect against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, or VHD. VHD can kill rabbits in under 48 hours. Both of these conditions are highly traumatic for a loving owner to have to witness, but thankfully, they are both preventable with a vaccine. Unfortunately, this does come at a cost, please call us for the latest vaccination prices.
Rabbits’ teeth are constantly erupting; they have a large amount of reserve tooth below the gum line, which means your rabbit’s teeth are always getting longer. It is essential that they have plenty of forage to grind their teeth down, however, they may also require dental treatment from us.
We must always be on the alert for accidents, and emergency veterinary bills can be covered by insurance, where you will pay a premium (monthly or annually), and an excess (a minimum contribution towards all vet costs, and the insurers will pay the rest). For this reason, we will usually encourage you to take out an insurance premium to cover your rabbit, too.
We wish you all the very best with your rabbit. They are loving, endearing and intelligent pets, and with the joys of owning a rabbit come responsibilities. It is best to be aware of the financial implications of taking on a rabbit, as many people underestimate the expenditure of rabbits on the basis of their small size!
“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were – Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter” – Beatrix Potter, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”