One of the first questions anyone asks before bringing home a pet is how long the pet will live. Will your grandchildren be caring for your pet, as they might with a tortoise? Or is it likely you’ll be saying goodbye all too soon?
The lifespan of a pet rabbit can vary, but on the average, a rabbit has a similar lifespan to a cat or dog. That is, with proper care and feeding, a pet rabbit may live between eight and 12 years.
That figure is an average. The oldest rabbit on record lived to be 18 years old. Most rabbits, however, don’t live that long.
- Pet rabbits typically live between 8 and 12 years.
- Some breeds live longer than others.
- To live a long, happy life, all rabbits need a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, companionship, and good veterinary care.
Your rabbit’s size and breed can play a role in longevity. Even more important factors include food, exercise, companionship, housing, and veterinary care.
Do Some Rabbit Breeds Live Longer Than Others?
As with a lot of animals, large breeds have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds. The Flemish Giant, for example, has an average life span of between five and seven years.
Some long-lived house rabbit breeds include:
- Netherland Dwarf (ten to 12years)
- Angora (seven to 12 years)
- Holland Lop (seven to 12 years)
- Lionhead (seven to 10 years)
Some breeds with a shorter lifespan include:
- Dutch (five to eight years)
- Checkered Giant (five to eight years)
- Polish Rabbit (five to six years)
- Britannia (five to eight years)
Also, mixed-breed rabbits often avoid some of the genetic problems that purebreds sometimes face.
What Role Does Diet Play in Rabbit Longevity?
Proper food is one of the most important determinants of your rabbit’s lifespan.
The Best Foods for Bunny Longevity
In the wild, rabbits eat primarily grass and hay. A high-fibre, low fat, low carbohydrate diet gives a bunny all of the nutrients they need and keeps their digestive system moving.
Rabbits love pellets because they’re easy to eat and they taste good. But too many pellets can lead to an overweight bunny. It’s common for rabbits who are used to too many pellets to turn up their noses at hay. But there are ways you can help to turn that around.
- Gradually reduce pellets and increase the amount of hay on offer
- Add edible flowers and herbs to the hay
- Make hay part of your rabbit’s play time
In addition to hay, make sure your bunny has access to plenty of fresh water at all times.
Lifestyle and Longevity
Like all of us, rabbits need a lifestyle that engages mind and body. And everyone needs a friend.
Everybunny Needs a Good Home
Cramped quarters aren’t just uncomfortable. They can lead to stress. And for rabbits, who are already nervous by nature, added stress can cause problems like:
Your bunny needs to be able to hop three times from end to end and to be able to stand up on hind legs without touching the roof with his or her ears.
A Hutch is Not Enough
It really isn’t!
A hutch is your rabbit’s living space. But your rabbit also needs a place to exercise and play, preferably outdoors. Give your rabbit daily access to their exercise space. Ideally, they should be able to visit their run whenever they like.
Of course, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can also build your own rabbit palace and grounds. You can also build elaborate play structures, like in the video below.
Nobunny Likes to Be Alone
In the wild, rabbits live in large groups. You might not have space for an entire tribe, but a pair of rabbits is almost always happier than a single bunny living all alone.
If you do have a solo rabbit, make sure that they’re part of the family. If your rabbit lives indoors, place their enclosure in an area where people gather regularly. Outdoor rabbit enclosures should be near your house, where you and your bunnies can see each other.
Make time to visit with your rabbits every day. This is especially important for a single bun.
An Active Mind Means a Healthy Rabbit
Boredom can be torment for anyone. For rabbits, it can lead to stress and behavioural problems, too.
In addition to food, water, and exercise, rabbits need mental stimulation. Provide your rabbit with an assortment of toys and boredom busters. Switch them up regularly.
You can even make bunny toys yourself, from things you probably already have at home.
Health Care for Rabbit Longevity
Just like you and me, your rabbit needs adequate health care to live its best, longest life.
Start by finding a rabbit-savvy vet before you need one. Not all vets treat rabbits, so it’s best to know where you can go for regular care, as well as in case of an emergency. The RWAF’s list of rabbit vets in the UK is a good place to start.
In Britain, both indoor and outdoor rabbits can receive vaccinations for Myxomatosis, Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 1 and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2. Vaccinations and subsequent booster jabs can keep your rabbits safe from these potentially devastating diseases.
Also, regular checkups can allow your vet to spot developing problems that you might miss.
You might have noticed that rabbits love to chew. They’ll chew almost anything in their reach, whether it’s good for them or not.
One reason for this is that their teeth never stop growing. They need to keep those teeth ground down. Dental problems in a rabbit are not only painful. They can also lead to other kinds of health problems, including:
- Broken teeth
- Dirty bottom
- Digestive problems, including gastrointestinal stasis
- Loss of appetite
A diet rich in hay can help keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy. Also make sure they have plenty of rabbit-safe chew toys available.
Spay and Neuter
Spaying and neutering your rabbits not only helps to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It can also protect your bunnies from certain cancers and other ailments.
Long Life and Good Rabbit Health
No one lives forever, and that includes our rabbits. The fact is, some rabbits live longer than others. But there are things you can do to help your pet rabbit live as long and happy a life as possible.
Give your pet rabbit a spacious, weather-safe home. Make sure he or she has access to high-quality food, fresh water on demand, and lots and lots of feeding hay. Establish a relationship with a rabbit-savvy vet and vaccinate on schedule.
Your rabbit’s health and longevity are in your hands.
Do you have any tips for a long, happy rabbit life? Drop it in the comments!