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Do Rabbits Make Good Pets?

Rabbits like to be gently petted and brushed.
Rabbits like to lie close to the people with whom they have a relationship.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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Rabbits can make good pets and may be the ideal choice for people living in small apartments. They do require a great deal of socialization in the early months, however, as well as intensive litter box training. These animals are also better suited to families with older children, children well instructed in their care, or for adults with no children. Young children may be too anxious to hold them, and this can result in a rabbit that is poorly bonded.

Contrary to popular belief, rabbits can be litter box trained. They do, however, have the tendency to explore things by chewing, so an owner will need to keep them in an environment designed for these animals. It is especially important to supply lots of safe chewing opportunities and chew toys. Electrical plugs and exposed wires are very dangerous, so these should be kept well out of sight.

A rabbit should also not roam the house without supervision, since investigative chewing is likely to occur under these circumstances. Instead, when the owner cannot be home with these animals, it is important that they have cages equipped with a litter box, and spacious enough so the animal does not feel confined.

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Small pets should have a cage that is at least 2 feet (0.6 m) by 3 feet (0.91 m), with a height of about 1.5 feet (0.45 m). Larger ones need a bigger cage, and minimum dimensions should be 2.5 feet (0.76 m) by 3 feet (0.91 m), with at least a 2-foot (0.6 m) height. Most enjoy a slightly larger cage. Multiple animals may be housed in large "condos" that have several levels.

Rabbits can be affectionate, but as irresistible as they may seem, they usually don’t like to be held or to sit on laps. They do however, like to be close to the people with whom they have bonded. A person can lie on the floor, and the pet will likely stay close by or cuddle up close.

Since normal behavior usually involves these animals living together in burrows, it's easy to understand why they like to lay close to people they have a relationship with. Rabbits also may enjoy being petted or brushed, especially if they are trained to accept these behaviors early on.

These animals do have strong smelling urine, although the smell reduces a little if the pet is spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering is very important because it promotes docility and prevents rabbits from feeling the urge to constantly mate. Healthcare is slightly more expensive for these pets than for a cat or dog, and small animal specialist fees may vary.

Certain breeds seem to make better pets. Large lop-eared rabbits seem to be more docile as a rule, and tend to be a bit more affectionate. Smaller breeds, like Dwarfs and Mini-Rexes, tend toward more behavior problems. Most fans will deny this, however, and point to various examples of each breed that are excellent pets. People who are interested in owning one should consider choosing a fairly calm animal if this is their first experience.

An owner won’t get the same interactive quality from a rabbit that comes from a cat or dog, but these animals do like to play with toys, and an affectionate one can provide quite a bit of entertainment. Care is a bit more labor intensive than care for an outdoor cat, for example, but many find that the care is well worth the price.

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anon934075
Post 34

Rabbits make terrific pets! My rabbit Buttons is lying down in her cage after running around for about an hour now! And the door of her cage is open and everything. As far as the "mean" thing goes, I would say that after being around your rabbit for long enough, the rabbit accepts that you're going to be there for a while and starts the bonding process with you. Buttons first asked for petting and than she started "grooming" me after a while. I have her in one of those dog cage things that we used to put my dog in when he was a puppy. I let her out in the morning and when I come home and it works out great!

She is very affectionate and jumps on the bed to be with me when out of her cage. I have one of those corner litter boxes that attaches to the side of the cage so she can't move it around. I also have a little felt dome for her to shelter herself in. I put a old towel/small blanket on the ground and some of her toys in the cage too. She really likes to chew but it hasn't been a problem as long as she's supervised/ given alternatives like cardboard and toys to chew on.

I really would recommend them as a pet as long as you are willing to give them the time it takes to let them start to love you.

anon339030
Post 33

I bought a netherland dwarf from a pet store as a companion for my lonely cat. I had no idea rabbits were so destructive and strong willed. This bunny chews the paint off the walls, eats candles and books, pees on the bed and chews the wood of my chairs in spite of the whole place being littered with bunny toys (cardboard rolls, hay, telephone books). I would keep him confined, but in his cage he chews the bars all night, scratches and digs and makes noise.

If I keep him confined during the night in my bedroom, he spends all night burrowing trying to get out, and jumping on the bed to pee, although he uses the litter box sometimes.

This bunny is a nightmare, but I don't want to take him to the shelter as he will spend all the rest of his life in a cage, and now he is used to his freedom. He is five months old now, and I am just hoping he will calm down before I completely lose it through lack of sleep.

anon331843
Post 32

I do agree that the larger breeds seem more docile and sweet, but if you don't get them fixed they can turn into monsters. I had a male New Zealand that was the sweetest little guy ever, and he was surprisingly smart. It only took me about two weeks to litterbox train him (I started when he was seven weeks old).

As he got older, he was so well trained that we never caged him and he never chewed anything aside from his toys. The only problem was that I couldn't get him fixed. I wasn't allowed since the people where I live believe that fixing an animal is essentially killing it and absolutely wouldn't stand for it. The one vet who would do it wanted to charge me about $375. No joke there, either. (I'm a student, I can afford the feed and general care but I need to save money for tuition too.) So I just had to hope he would stay this way. He didn't. At about eight months, he started destroying everything in sight, and every animal (including people) he encountered he would try to fight. Ever heard a rabbit bark and growl? I hadn't until then. It wasn't long before he became so violent that we had to give him to someone with a large yard for him to take over.

A while later, I tried again with a Mini Rex. This time I heard the females were more docile and might not need to be fixed. Lies and slander! That bunny was a demon in disguise. She was nice and social at first, but after two weeks she was destroying everything she could and never, ever took to even the simplest of training. I tried training her like I had the first, just simple things like coming to whistles or using the litterbox, but nope. She would urinate on the litter and then kick it all over the floor outside of her box. I tried using paper instead so she couldn't make as much of a mess - or so I thought - and she still found a way. From about three months old she began leaving deep scratches all over anyone who tried to clean her cage or touch her.

Get your rabbit fixed, no matter what the breed or gender is.

Note: Whenever one does a study or an experiment and records the data, there are almost always outliers. Example, my Mini Rex was a monster while someone else's might have been a perfect little angel-bunny. In general I'm sure they tend to fall in between somewhere, so the perfect angels and the devil spawn are the outliers. Just because these few bunnies are wonderful, amazing creatures doesn't mean every bunny will be that way. Same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.

anon329598
Post 31

@anon101364: Baby rabbits like being held because they feel protected, but as they mature, their natural instinct to not like being picked up (they think a bird might be picking them up, and they're more comfortable on the ground) starts to show.

From my experience, they like it when they sit on your lap and you pet them, so I would do that and only pick them up when it is entirely necessary. Getting your lop neutered is probably a good idea, though. They start spraying to make scent markers for their "territory".

anon327193
Post 30

All rabbits have different personalities but do bunny things. They need to be handled from a very early age to get the very best friend you could wish for. Neuter them as soon as possible, and always select a bunny that comes to you for a bit of fuss. Never get one that's scared of you. I have kept rabbits 30 years.

anon284761
Post 28

I've had two rabbits. One I got from an old lady who was giving him away and the other I got from a pet store.

My first rabbit was really old so I'd recommend getting a younger one, but not a baby bunny. Oh, and definitely keep it inside. Mine used to jump all over me when I was doing homework.

anon258436
Post 27

My rabbit is eight years old and has been living outside, without a cage for five years. We rabbit proofed the fence and he hasn't escaped in three years. Even if he does go out, he won't leave the property. He is very loving and wants to be wherever people are.

He gets 1/3 of a banana a day, with his normal food, herbs, juice and other fruits. I live in Canada and he lives in the cold all winter without any problems. He's slowing down because of old age but he still has a lot of energy, isn't shy and will follow you everywhere. He's like a dog that doesn't bark.

anon246323
Post 26

I have a four month old male lionhead lop which I just got. I'm getting him more comfortable with his new environment and am toilet training him.

He's adorably shy and a really fast learner - too fast I think? I started by feeding him tiny bits of carrots (which he loves) whenever he hops back into the cage because he hates being picked up and carried to the cage when we need to put him back inside. (Sharp claws! He's turning me into an emo wrist slasher! But I give him treats after he gets picked up anyway).

But now he perpetually hops into the cage because he thinks I will treat him, then refuses to hop back out to run around until he's gotten what he wants!

anon229324
Post 25

I have a Holland lop rabbit that is now three years old. We bought him when he was six weeks old and got him neutered at six months. My rabbit is house trained and does not live in a cage. He has two litter boxes that he uses, one in the living room and the other in the kitchen. It took me two months to get him completely house trained but it is well worth it.

Like a cat, he decides when he wants attention and likes to have his head scratched for as long as you are willing.

anon150750
Post 24

I have two dogs, a golden retriever that is one and a golden doodle that is four. I also have an american gray parrot that is four. I'm 11 and i really want a rabbit/bunny. i want to know which one will be better to get, but i want to know if it will get along with them and if will get along with me and one more thing should i wear gloves when I'm holding my rabbit/bunny?

anon150680
Post 23

To those who say rabbits don't make good pets, they are wrong. We have had our rabbit for about five years. He does not live in a cage of any sort. He is completely free to roam our apartment. He is litter box trained, although there are some droppings (which is normal, and we just vacuum it up).

He is very friendly, as he comes right up to people (who he is used to and trusts. he tends to be shy around new people.) He also go to his food area, where he is kept stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, and will start eating when we eat.

anon150357
Post 22

I have a dwarf-- well the pet store told us it was a dwarf rabbit but its pretty big now-- double furred dutch rabbit.

I don't know if it's because we socialized him as a bunny but we can hold him, kiss him, and carry him around where ever we go. He's actually a really fun pet, great to watch tv with on your lap. I suggest getting one. He's far more cuddly than a dog!

anon140819
Post 21

I'm 10 and i really want one but I'm afraid of two things if my bunny will bite me kick me or any other thing that would hurt me.

anon138787
Post 20

I'm 13 and have been wanting a holland lop or dwarf hotot. (both small breeds) does the size or the breed change the attitude. also are girls easier to take care of than boys?

anon128825
Post 18

I have a bunny named Captain Peanuts because he's brown but he keeps on boxing my Mom and siblings. He'll only be gentle with me or my Dad. Why's he doing it?

anon123653
Post 17

having a rabbit is not wrong. well,if you are not really much of a caring person, you really should not have a pet. moreover, if you're going to have a rabbit as a pet, you really should take it out sometimes. the little bunny loves outdoors. don't just let it stay in his hutch or his house all along(unless he's sick). he hates that. Having a rabbit is not wrong.

anon122744
Post 16

Having a rabbit as a pet is cruel. Any animal that you have as your enjoyment just to have sit in a small cage where it can't do anything for most of its life is wrong. Our society is so screwed up sometimes.

Shezz
Post 15

Sorry, forgot to add in what brand bedding works best in the their cage. It's Living World's 'Fresh N' Comfy.' It's made from recycled newspaper and magazines and has baking soda in it for odor control. There is a bedding made by Care Fresh that also has baking soda, but it is more expensive and doesn't work as well. Sorry for missing that out the first time!

Shezz
Post 14

Rabbits make amazing pets! I have a lionhead lop mix. He's nine months old and I've had him since he was about seven weeks old. He is just the sweetest little guy!

I'm a university student and whenever I'm at my computer doing homework, he lies right under my chair like a dog would (he is right now lol). He’ll nudge my foot, or stand on his back legs with his front paws on my chair until I pet him! He loves being petted! He even follows me around my apartment when I'm cleaning lol. And loves to give bunny kisses!

You do have to do some serious bunny proofing though to make sure his environment is safe, because trust me they will chew everything. Never leave a wire exposed!

As for cage cleaning, I clean his once a week and his litter box twice a week. I have found that the best stuff to use in the cage is Fresh N Comfy. It completely eliminates any odour. Before I switched to this brand I was having to clean his cage every three days. Also don’t use wood shavings as it can cause breathing problems.

He doesn't really like to be held, but he's getting more tolerant, as we keep working on it (I use small amounts of mini wheats or digestive biscuits as treats). You just have to be very patient, and not force them if they don’t want to do it. That will just make them scared, start small for short periods of time and work your way up. It's good to get them used to being held for when you need to clip their nails.

He's best when I sit with him, and put my knees up and support him between my chest and my legs, that way he feels safe. He’s even started to enjoy it the last week! He does not like to be held however while you walk around.

As for having them neutered, I've done a ton of research and everything I've read says this makes for a happier, calmer bunny so I would recommend this. My little guy has an appointment coming up soon.

Rabbits need at least an hour a day outside of their cage, however the more time you can give them the better. My rabbit is out if I am home. You just have to make sure you are keeping an eye on them so they don't get into anything you don't want them too.

Also, it is important to remember that young bunnies under a year old are going to chew, and dig a lot more than older ones, think of this as their rebellious teenage years. After that they will start to calm down, so if you are having problems, just wait it out.

All in all rabbits make excellent pets! They are loving and affectionate and sure to bring a smile to your face as the binky around your floor, or cuddle up next to you wanting to be petted.

anon107130
Post 12

Guys I had a rabbit and it was a mistake. You need to change the litterbox every day, clean the cage every day, supervise all of the time and the fur is an absolute nightmare; there was hair everywhere!! But if you're going be really committed, and I mean really, really committed, then I guess you should try it out. Oh and neuter/ spay it, it'll really help you in the future.

anon101364
Post 11

i have a male floppy eared rabbit and he's started to bite. i thought it was because he didn't like being picked up but he wasn't like that when i first got him. could anyone tell me why he's doing this?

would it make a difference if i get him neutered? would he calm down? thanks.

anon94099
Post 10

I have just turned thirteen and would like a rabbit but would also like to be able to cuddle it and I was wondering. If you buy a baby rabbit instead of a fully grown one, would it be easier to bond with the rabbit because it would grow up with me?

I was also wondering if because I want a rabbit to stroke and to be close to me. Would it be hard to get a rabbit to bond with me if I bought a rabbit that has already been abandoned? And does this affect their relationship with humans? Kira 13

anon82126
Post 9

I would totally recommend one i know because i have one. I would suggest getting one from a breeder.

anon68057
Post 8

I'm 17 and going to college this coming semester and i want a pet. I'm considering adopting a dwarf rabbit, because i will live in an apartment. Do you think this will be a good idea?

anon58161
Post 7

Rabbits are quite a lot of work but it is really worth it. I have had a rabbit for two years now. Everyone else gave up on it but I kept at it and it likes me the most now!! I love him and he loves me. English spots rock!

anon52893
Post 6

I'm 11 and I'm interested in getting a bunny. I'm very responsible and mature. I already know everything that I need to do and get and I will give the rabbit a good home. Do you recommend(spelled wrong) a certain type of rabbit?

anon45702
Post 5

hi i'm 11 years old. are rabbits hard to care for because i kinda want one.

anon41379
Post 4

Rachel, all rabbits have a history of not wanting to be picked up. this reason being is because birds carry off rabbits as prey and when a rabbit is picked up it gives him/her the feeling of being carried away by a predator. Baby rabbits loved to get held though because they feel protected but they are a lot of work like any other pet.

anon37624
Post 3

I am considering adopting a rabbit, but I'm not sure if it will be too much work for me to handle. I think I could handle it but I want the rabbit to be happy.

Is it really hard to take care of a rabbit? How much time do they need per day?

anon37038
Post 2

hi! Well, before any rabbit will let you hold him/her you have to get to know it. Talk to it, play with it, and *don't* talk too loudly because loud noises scare it. The key to being able to hold your rabbit is by getting it to trust you.

anon36466
Post 1

hi im a little girl age ten and i would like to have a rabbit but i would like to be able to have a rabbit that would let me hold him/her. is there a rabbit that would suit me?

Rachel

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