Rabbit As A Pet – What To Know

A rabbit can be the perfect pet – cute, quiet, and also inexpensive. In order to avoid disappointments and problems with the rabbit, sufficient prior knowledge is necessary. What you should consider is everything, you learn here!

Species-appropriate Housing

Before getting a rabbit, it is important to realize that these animals are social, sociable, active, and curious. Human contact is no substitute for a conspecific. Therefore, species-appropriate husbandry initially begins with the acquisition of at least two of these animals. If the animal is to serve as a cuddling partner, the rabbit is usually rather unsuitable. The observation animals can be touched at first only reluctantly. Usually, the rabbit builds up rather a “loose” relationship with its owner. However, these characteristic traits vary from personality to personality. There are also rabbits that are very people-oriented and can be trained to do tricks or are cuddly and hand-tame. However, this should not be relied upon. As a rule, rabbits become instant nervous when they are picked up from the ground. Unless it is really necessary, do not carry the rabbit around.

Tip: Don’t buy the animal in the pet section of the hardware store. Ask at animal shelters or regional breeders. They can often tell you in advance the characteristics of the rabbit. In addition, these animals often have better health conditions.

Rabbits In The Apartment

The next consideration is where to place the rabbit. If you live in an apartment, make sure that your long-eared friend has a run in a garden or park every now and then. Also, the animal should be able to run inside the apartment. Damage to furniture and carpets is not uncommon. Gnawed cables or shoes can only be prevented if you install a small indoor fence. You can then equip this area with toys. Urine and feces are often used as territory markers.

In addition, rabbits are especially active at dusk. They make gnawing, scratching, and tapping noises. Especially in captivity. Furthermore, the space requirement of the cage is often underestimated. The models from pet shops are too small for the agile animals. If the cages are too small, rabbits can develop behavioral disorders such as grid gnawing or aggression.

Basically, the more space that can be applied to the enclosure, the better. The advantage of residential cages is their mobility. The cage usually consists of a plastic floor and a wire roof. This makes it very light and can be moved around. You can line the floor pan with newspaper and then fill it with rabbit litter. Choose soft, warm bedding that absorbs liquid (such as wood shavings, hay or straw). Rabbits are very clean animals. Therefore, an open litter box can be used as a toilet. This can simply be filled with litter that is compatible with rabbits. To avoid odors, the litter must be changed daily.

Rabbits In The Garden

Ideal for keeping rabbits in the garden. Since the commercial hutches are often too small, it is recommended to build something yourself. This is not only easier than you expect, but you can also offer rabbit species-appropriate housing. For this, you can find many instructions and guides. The hutch should be at least 80cm wide and 120cm long and high enough for the rabbit to stand upright. Wooden hutches offer enough protection from cold and enemies. The front of the hutch can be covered with chicken wire. This way you can see the animal well, it can look out for itself and is well supplied with light and air. During the day it is best to put the animal in a free run on the grass and in the evening back in the hutch. This way the rabbit can hop around, hook or dig. It should be noted that female rabbits can dig themselves out from under the obstacle fence. To avoid this, shelters such as hollow logs or small wooden houses can provide retreats. In nature, they dig underground tunnels and burrows to protect themselves from enemies. The enclosure must be large, secure, and protected from the weather. The simulated burrow should be colder than the rest of the enclosure in summer and warmer in winter. It must also be protected from intruders such as foxes or marten. A perfect outdoor area is connected to the hutch so that the rabbits can choose where to spend their time. The run should have at least 6m² for 2 rabbits. The rabbit will thank you with balanced, healthy, and happy behavior.

Nutrition And Food

Rabbits are constantly eating. Since they have only a weakly developed gastrointestinal tract, they provide themselves with small meals throughout the day. Unlike humans, food must be “pushed” from above. The pure administration of commercial food is not recommended. In addition to dry food, vegetables, fruits, and greens are essential to a healthy diet. Rabbits are vegan herbivores. Fresh grass is ideal for their diet. It contains the optimal composition of nutrients and fiber. Also, it grinds their teeth and promotes digestion. However, it is important to remember to feed only grass that is free of pesticides and chemicals. Also, high-quality hay can make up the bulk of the diet. Add to that a daily rotation of vegetables and you have a balanced rabbit diet! But not all plants are the same! Avoid all products that resemble muesli. Rabbit muesli usually consists of peas, corn, wheat, nuts, and cookies. However, rabbits like to pick out the goodies in the process. Nutritious ingredients are leftover. The consequences are overweight and weak bones. Pieces of fruit should also be the exception due to the high sugar content. Provide fresh drinking water in a clean water bottle or water bowl in the rabbit hutch at all times.


Exercise And Training

When you are in your home, let the rabbits out of the cage. This will give them needed exercise and mental stimulation. If you don’t have an outdoor enclosure, you can take your rabbit outside for a walk with a harness and leash. Never leave your rabbit outside alone. Birds of prey may see your pet as tasty prey. Activities like brushing or a little training will strengthen the bond between you and your pet. To teach rabbits tricks, however, you need a lot of patience. As a rule, they are very slow learners. With good toys, your pets can also do wonderful things on their own. Since they are naturally curious and active, they will occupy themselves with all kinds of toys. You can stuff an empty toilet paper roll with hay – they’ll love it! Cat toys are also great. But remember that rabbits will chew on anything. So plastic, paint, varnish, and labels are not suitable.

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What Else To Watch Out For:


Heat And Cold

Do not bathe your rabbit! The animals are very clean and a bath is therefore unnecessary. Water could get into the ears and cause inflammation. In summer you can of course put a shallow bowl of water in the enclosure to cool your rabbit down. Better in hot temperatures is to put a bottle with frozen contents in the rabbit hutch. Rabbits generally cope well with cold. In cold temperatures, it is recommended to provide a dry box filled with straw. Here they can bury themselves and snuggle up if necessary. If your hutch is outside, you can also cover part of the grid with a cloth or board to protect them from the cold wind.


Once you have provided rabbits with hutches, runs, and toys, the cost of keeping them is quite low. If they also have access to grass and hay outside, there is little cost for food or the like.

So one-time costs are for the rabbit itself. Uncastrated rabbits are about 30€, castrated rabbits from the shelter about 45€. If you want to get a special breed, you can approach a breeder. Since many breeders treat their animals affectionately, rabbits are often already somewhat more trusting here. Depending on the breed, the costs for these animals are between 20€ and 50€.

Basically, it is not recommended to buy animals from pet shops or hardware store departments. The origin is usually not known. Likewise, diseases can occur quickly due to cramped conditions. The prices vary between 30€ and 60€. With the rabbit equipment, it depends now completely on your taste. Hayrack, feeding bowl, and drinking bottle can be purchased for less than 5€. In addition, cage, food, box or house, possibly toilet and litter. You can expect costs between 80€ and 200€. The running costs vary depending on the type of food and litter. Monthly costs are usually less than 30€. It is recommended to plan a cushion of about 70€ per year in case of veterinary costs or repairs.

Communication Between Rabbits

To understand your rabbit you can analyze its behavior. Between conspecifics, they communicate by sound and body language. If they knock loudly with their hind legs on the ground, they emit a warning signal for the group. If they lie down stretched out, maybe even on their back or side, they feel comfortable and safe. If they sit upright with their ears flattened, they are ready to attack. When they do, they jump forward with sharp claws, bite and growl. If they sit with their ears outstretched on their hind legs, their curiosity shows.

A rabbit that presses flat on the ground and puts its ears on shows that it is submitting. This can be in a fight, but it can also happen in contact with humans. Usually, the animal is frightened when this happens. If the rabbit is frightened, it usually remains motionless with its eyes wide open. In nature, animals behave this way when escape seems hopeless. Since many hunting animals react only to movement, the rabbit is sometimes overlooked in this way.

Compatibility Among Rabbits

Rabbits are generally very social. But if you want to keep 2 rabbits in one hutch, it is worth neutering them. Otherwise, it can happen that they hurt each other or even mate. As with other creatures, some animals just don’t get along with each other. Watch the animals and make sure that they get along together.

Compatibility With Guinea Pigs

Just because both animals are small and cuddly, it is not recommended to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together. Not only do they come from different continents, they “speak a different language”. They simply do not understand each other. So in the end both animals are lonely together. A conspecific is just different than a foreign animal.

If you keep the animals together nevertheless, they usually live quite peacefully side by side and have nothing else to do with each other. Sometimes they use the other as a warm resting place in winter.

Compatibility With Dogs

If dogs grow up with rabbits, the relationship between the two species is usually problem-free. However, this requires setting boundaries for the dog if it exhibits behavior that frightens the rabbit. However, special care must be taken with hunting dogs. Here it takes a lot of time, patience, and consequences to get them used to each other. Often, however, you cannot put the rabbit through this stress.

Compatibility With Cats

Cats have a mind of their own. Generally, they are harder to train than dogs. So you are more likely to steer them in a certain direction. Young rabbits and baby rabbits should be kept away from cats for the time being. These belong to the prey pattern of the cat. Adult rabbits, on the other hand, may well fight back in the event of a dispute. Cats usually find them rather interesting. The probability of an attack is vanishingly small. Often the animals also play with each other.

In general, one should be aware that a rabbit can live for about 10 years. So if one makes this commitment, one is bound for the long term.


FAQ About The Rabbit

How old do rabbits live?

Rabbits can live in their own home for about 8 to 10 years.

What do rabbits eat?

A species-appropriate diet consists of about 80% hay and 20% fresh food such as fruit, vegetables and herbs.

What should rabbits eat?

Rabbits should eat mainly hay. A species-appropriate diet consists of about 80% hay and 20% fresh food such as fruits, vegetables and herbs.

How long do rabbits live?

Rabbits can live approximately 8 to 10 years in their own home.

How long do rabbits carry?

The gestation period for rabbits is one month. Shortly before giving birth, the female starts building her nest.

When are rabbits sexually mature?

Rabbits are sexually mature after only a few months. Dwarf rabbits, for example, are mature from the third month of life.

What should rabbits not eat?

Various fruits and vegetables are incompatible with rabbits. These include onion crops, legumes, avocados and exotic fruits.

EC Rabbit: When to get better?

If diagnosed quickly, a rabbit will get back on its feet in 3 to 12 weeks. If medication is given promptly after the EC episode, the rabbit is often better within a week.

How much space does a rabbit need?

A pair of rabbits should have 4 square meters of space available throughout the day. A rabbit hutch must be 0.6 square meters per rabbit.

Rabbit socialization: when is it successful?

Socialization of rabbits works best when both are younger than 4 months

Rabbit builds nest – How long until birth?

A female rabbit builds the nest very shortly before giving birth. Once she starts, it is not long before the offspring are born.

How long are rabbits pregnant?

The gestation period for rabbits is one month. Shortly before giving birth, the female begins building her nest.

When are rabbits fully grown?

After the first year of life, rabbits are usually fully grown.

When can rabbits be castrated?

Ideally, males are neutered before reaching sexual maturity.

How high can rabbits jump?

Most rabbits jump easily 60 cm high. Therefore, no run should have a height of less than 75 cm. For rabbits that like to jump, an enclosure should rather be 80 to 100 cm high.

How often should rabbits have their claws trimmed?

Depending on husbandry and growth rate, claws should be trimmed every 3 to 12 weeks.

How much does a rabbit cost?

Depending on the breed, rabbits cost approximately between 20 and 50 euros.

How do rabbits see?

The cones are responsible for color vision. Rabbits do not have cones for the color red and therefore only see shades of blue and green.

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