MORE THAN JUST CARROTS
Rabbits are inexpensive and easy to keep – all they need is a hutch and carrots, right? Wrong! If done properly caring for a rabbit can cost more than having a cat or dog. “You need real money, not a child’s pocket money, to look after a rabbit” says Lulu James, Director of Cottontails. Naturally, we think they’re worth every penny. But the list below will help you decide if a rabbit is the right pet for you. Because rabbits need to live in pairs, many expenses should be doubled. Rabbits can live 10 years or longer.
- The best place to get a rabbit is your local rescue centre, where rabbits are usually already neutered and vaccinated. Suggested donation: £100 or more. To adopt a rescue rabbit search the Bunny Hopline
- Keeping rabbits in a hutch is cruel and does not protect them from predators and bad weather. Cottontails recommends housing rabbits indoors in one or more rooms, or if it’s not possible, giving them free run of a sturdy shed or playhouse (from £300).
- Baby/pet gate to confine rabbits indoors: £45
- Plastic dog bed to sleep in (large size because rabbits like to stretch!): £40
- Fleece rug: £40
- Litter trays: £8
- Hay, straw and litter: £1.50 per day
- Food and water bowls: £6
- Fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs (rabbits need at least 4 different types a day, kitchen scraps won’t do): £2-£3 a day per rabbit. Dried convenience food is not recommended by Cottontails as it doesn’t wear the teeth down sufficiently, leading to health problems later on.
- Timothy and alfalfa hay: £6 per bag
- Treats, e.g. dried apple rings: £1 a week (avoid unhealthy treats from pet shops)
- Toys: £30 a year
- Cable covers to stop rabbits from chewing telephone and electric cables: £25 – one off expense and cheaper than rewiring your home!
- Cleaning materials: £2 a month
- Large sturdy run for daytime exercise: you won’t find these in pet shops and having one made will cost from £200
- Fencing to make your garden escape-proof: can cost several hundred pounds
- Large pet carrier for trips to the vet, etc.: £45
- Boarding during holidays: from £10 per day per rabbit, more for home visits.
- Nail clippers and flea comb: £10
- Care information (e.g. books, membership to House Rabbit Society): £20 +
- Neutering: £60-£140 per rabbit (spaying females costs more than neutering males). Please note: feeding and housing a litter of baby bunnies would be much more expensive
- Myxomatosis and VHD vaccinations: £40-£80 a year per rabbit
- Pet insurance: around £20 a month per rabbit
- Excess payable on vet bills even if rabbits are insured: £40-£60 per condition
- If your rabbit is not insured, vet bills could add up to a few hundred pounds a year or more
- Microchipping: £30 per rabbit, though not a substitute for supervising your rabbits when they are outdoors and fencing your garden
Rabbits also need company, love and attention, which doesn’t cost money but does require some time and effort. If you can’t afford a pet rabbit, why not sponsor one from a shelter? In return you will receive his photo, sponsorship papers and regular updates. Search the Bunny Hopline for a list of rabbit shelters.