There is no denying that rabbits are among the most popular pets in the world. An estimated three to seven million pet rabbits reside in homes across the US alone, with another million taking up residence in the UK.
But why are rabbits so popular, and what makes them such a great pet in the first place? There are many different reasons for this, some of which may grab you more than others. Regardless, at least some of these reasons should grab you (and you should be properly prepared) before you are ready to welcome a hoppy friend into your happy home.
1. Rabbits Are Quiet
For everything dogs and cats are, one thing they are not is quiet. They have a way of barking and meowing up a storm, which can be disruptive both for your own family and as well as your neighbors.
This is one area where rabbits have an advantage over their fellow mammalian pet prospects. Rabbits are by and large quiet animals. They don’t bark and meow, and they don’t make many other noises either.
In fact, if they do make sounds, chances are they have a problem. Rabbits can scream, but only if they are in severe pain or are experiencing an acute bout of terror. They can also grind their teeth if they have grown too long. Ideally, however, your rabbit should be peaceful and quiet most of the time. If you hate a ruckus, chances are you’ll love a rabbit.
2. Rabbits Bond with Their Owners
The fact that they aren’t very vocal doesn’t mean that rabbits are impersonal creatures. On the contrary, rabbits love to play, hide, communicate, and bond with their owners. What’s more, every rabbit has its own personality. There are plenty of different animals that are cute or can add a splash of color to a room, but are lacking in that personal touch. It can be hard to “get to know” different fish. There are rabbits who are more extroverted and playful, rabbits who are introverted and shy, and everything in between.
Even better, rabbits bond with their owners over time. Just like a cat or dog, a rabbit is part of your family and they see you in the same way. Rabbits have big hearts and love to have someone to love, especially their owners. Rabbit society can be quite hierarchical, so they’re used to having a “dominant” rabbit niche, which you can feel. Or perhaps your rabbit already feels as if they are “top rabbit,” and they’ll want to hug and rub you to prove it. The bond between a rabbit and their owner is adorable, ever-developing, and always worthwhile.
3. Rabbits Don’t Need Much Space
Another drawback that comes with owning cats and dogs is that they need a ton of space to be happy. You can’t just shove them in a cage and call it a day. Dogs and cats need several rooms’ worth of space, at minimum, in which to roam in order to be happy.
Rabbits, by contrast, still need space but you can be more flexible with that. You don’t want to stick them in a cage that’s so small that they can’t move, but there is far more license to find larger rabbit cages that may do the trick. There are a few things that rabbits need in their cages — food, water, bedding, hiding places, forms of amusement, possibly a tunnel leading to a digging box — but all of that can be accomplished with less space than you would require for similar accommodations for a cat or dog.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t let your rabbit out once in a while. They love the outdoors. Just make sure that you keep them safe and watch to see that they don’t get too tired.
4. Rabbits Are Affordable
And of course, the less you have to pay for big things like living space, the more affordable the practice of pet keeping becomes. In fact, rabbits are pretty affordable pets. You have to pay for plenty of food, bedding, shelter, and amusement but they are still far more affordable than cats and dogs, with their larger size and list of needs. That being said, you shouldn’t “cheap out” on your rabbits, either. There’s no need, anyway. Just buying them the cages, bedding, and other necessities shouldn’t be too costly, and you can potentially save even more money by heeding the advice of the next section.
5. Rabbits Are Vegan
One of the biggest sources of spending for cats and dogs as pets comes from their diets. You need to make sure that both eat special diets that are rich in all kinds of nutrients, in large part because cats and dogs are omnivores. Sure, Shi-Tzus and tabbies may be a long way from wolves and tigers, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t still have the same instinctual and dietary need for meat, or at the very least the protein it offers. The best pet formulas for cats and dogs mix these with veggies that are safe for them to eat, a costly process that is unnecessary with rabbits.
Our long-eared fuzzy friends are herbivores and full-on vegans through and through, meaning that you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) feed them those expensive formulas. Instead, you can save a ton of money by feeding them veggies from the store or your garden. You’ll want to make sure that they don’t have any pesticides or other poisons still on them, but once you wash those completely off, you can serve all manner of green leafy goodness to your rabbit. Add in some pellets and an abundance of hay, and you have a happy rabbit without the saddening cost.
6. Rabbits Can Be Trained
We usually think of dogs and cats as trainable animals who can do tricks, but rabbits can do that too. When properly trained, they will respond to their names and can learn tricks.
7. Rabbits Are Clean Freaks
Some dogs seem to revel in making a mess of the place where they live. Rabbits are exactly the opposite. They are clean freaks who can’t abide a mess. In fact, if you ignore a rabbit who’s trying to push out hay and bedding after it has become soiled, it will try to dig its way out or kick out the polluted strands altogether.
8. Rabbits Are Various
There are also tons of different options available for those looking to purchase or rescue a rabbit. With more than 50 internationally recognized breeds, you can choose the one that best fits your tastes as well as your home setup. Some rabbits are larger or smaller than others on average, and some may have different temperaments. Just as you would research a dog before buying one, you’ll want to do the same with rabbits to make sure that you are getting a breed that you’ll love.
9. Rabbits Are Adoption-Friendly
This, in turn, is another great thing about rabbits; once you do all of the appropriate research, they are reasonably easy to adopt. Whether you are looking to buy a young rabbit from a pet store or one in need of a good home from an animal shelter, there are plenty of options available to you.
10. Rabbits Can Be Long-Lived
Few things have the capacity to be more personally tragic than having to bury or put down a pet. You can trot out all the old platitudes about death being a natural part of life, but it just doesn’t feel that way when it’s your pet.
That’s especially true when it comes to mammals. Flushing a fish down the toilet is one thing, but when it’s a dog, cat, or rabbit, the fact these creatures are so much closer to us on the evolutionary scale and bond with us on an emotional level makes it that much harder to bid them adieu.
Thankfully, with rabbits, you shouldn’t have to do this for a long time. When properly trained and cared for, pet rabbits often live between eight to twelve years, with some living longer than that. Smaller breeds can live well into their “teenage years” as long as you take good care of them. That’s a lot longer that you would expect from a hamster or gerbil, and all without the hassle of having to let them outside as much as you might for a dog. The longer life also lets you get attached over longer periods of time as the two of you grow older together.
Rabbits are a great pet for a variety of reasons, but it really is their ability to connect with us on a personal level that make them all worthwhile. Welcoming a rabbit into your life can be a great way to have an adorable, intelligent pet without having to deal with many of the larger-scale issues of bigger mammals such as cats and dogs.
As long as you know what you are doing and treat them properly, your rabbit can live, learn, grow, and continue to give you an abundance of joy for years to come.