New bunny owners guide

A common reason for bunnies ending up in rescue centres is because people aren’t fully prepared for the care that is required to have them as pets. Rabbits do make wonderful pets but only if you are prepared to give them the love, attention and care they need.

We believe that education is so important, which is why we have written this post to give potential new bunny owners as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision about bringing bunnies into their home. We have asked our followers what they wish they had known before getting bunnies to help us put this guide together.

Cost

While we hate to admit that cost is a big factor in owning rabbits, sadly it is. Rabbits are actually very expensive pets to own which is something a lot of people don’t realise. The initial housing set up for bunnies can cost hundreds of pounds, depending on whether they are indoors or outdoors. A well-built, large outdoor set up can cost over £1,000 and this is before you have even got the bunnies.

Our adoption fee is £150 for a pair of rabbits and buying from a shop or breeder is usually much more expensive than this if you provide the right health care (we make a loss on each bunny so that we can neuter and vaccinate each one). We recommend all rabbits are vaccinated and neutered, both to prevent them from getting deadly illnesses and to ensure they can live happily bonded together. The cost of this can range from roughly £120-£200 and their vaccinations must be done annually to ensure they remain protected. Add in the cost of hay, pellets, toys and other enrichment as well as unfortunately if they ever need an unexpected trip to the vets and you are looking at quite a lot of money. As a ball park figure £50 a month wouldn’t be an unreasonable amount to spend on a pair of bunnies and it can easily become much, much more if they develop health issues.

Insurance is an important topic to consider when getting bunnies too. If you don’t think you can afford any unexpected vet bills, then we would definitely recommend getting your bunnies insured. It means you have to pay a fee each month, but it is completely worth it to know you can afford the vet care your bunnies may need and give yourself piece of mind.

Illnesses and diet

One of the most commonly mentioned topics that our followers told us they wish they’d known before owning bunnies was how delicate they can be and therefore how often they get poorly.

Sadly, rabbits are naturally prey species and therefore hide signs of illness and pain very well. For this reason, we often don’t notice they are sick until quite far down the line and therefore it is really important to know your bunny well and regularly check on them. Gut stasis is one of the most common illnesses rabbits can get and it can easily become fatal for them if they are not treated correctly.

Bunnies have a very sensitive gut and therefore must be fed the correct diet. Their diet should be 85-90% good quality timothy hay, 5-10% pellets and 5% fresh vegetables. Hay is the most important and is vital for their teeth & gut. Sometimes bunnies can be very fussy with hay and therefore we always recommend a good quality hay such as timothyhay.co.uk, just4rabbits or haybox and you may need to try a few different brands before you find one your bunny likes!

Bunnies need friends

Rabbits are very sociable animals and therefore must live with at least another bunny. Many people do keep rabbits on their own and say they are perfectly happy, which we are sure they are, but when you see a bunny with a friend you will realise how important companionship is. Yes, they you can give them as much attention as you like, but what about when you are asleep or out of the house? We always rehome rabbits in pairs for this reason.

We often get asked about rehoming bunnies to houses with young children, or bunnies that are cuddly. Unfortunately, a lot of rabbits do not like a lot of human attention and cuddles. Most rabbits certainly don’t like to be picked up. Again, this is because they are naturally prey animals, so being picked up in the wild would mean they have been caught by a predator. Yes, some bunnies are okay being picked up, but we don’t think it’s fair for bunnies to be forced to have cuddles if they don’t enjoy it. For this reason, rabbits don’t make the best pets for children. They are often afraid of loud noises and can sometimes scratch and bite if they are upset. We will only rehome bunnies to households with young children if the main reason for adoption is because the adults want bunnies. Children unfortunately often get bored of pets and this is a common reason for bunnies being surrendered to us.

Rabbits are time-consuming

Time is another important factor to consider before getting bunnies. They take up a surprising amount of time, whether that be to clean them out, cuddling and spending time with them or coming up with new ideas to keep them entertained! We believe the time is 100% worth it but they are certainly not pets that you can leave at the bottom of the garden like some people believe. They need plenty of space. Our minimum housing requirements are 10ft by 6ft which they need permanent access to, and preferably larger, because they love to run and jump around. This is based on research that has been done by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund. This is the case whatever the size the bunny, even small bunnies run around just as much! This might seem like a lot of space, but in the wild rabbits will roam for miles every day. The best thing is watching your bunnies run around (or zoomies as they are called) and binky. We believe you should only bring bunnies into your life if you can make them truly happy and seeing your bunnies happy really is the best thing!

Here are some other things our followers had to say about bunnies:

“The binky is the cutest thing you have ever seen.”

“Bunnies can be so different from each other. Our first bunny was so well behaved… then we adopted a pair who are intent on destroying the house!”

“Always fox proof their outdoor enclosure with high quality mesh.”

“They have sooo much personality – They will sass you and have you laughing all day long if you put in enough effort.”

“I find dogs and cats easier pets!”

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