Bunnies look adorable, and their soft fur seems to be made for petting. But they are rumored to bite the hand that pets them. They are small and don’t take up a lot of space, but they can stink up a small space. Rabbits are adopted as pets around the world, but whether they make good pets isn’t universally agreed upon.
To get to the bottom of this, we must separate facts from fiction. And in this article, we will do exactly that.
Citing research, experience, and best practices, we will go over whether rabbits are good pets and what you need to know before choosing to adopt one.
By the end, you will know what is required of you and what you can expect of your pet rabbit.
Are Rabbits Good Pets?
Rabbits are okay pets in general but aren’t regarded as universally good or bad pets. They look cute, they are low-maintenance pets, and they can spend long stretches in their cages.
But… they also poop a lot and are incessant biters.
To figure out if rabbits are good pets, you need to be certain about what makes any animal a “good” pet.
But it goes without saying that domesticated rabbits are not bad pets in general. Many first-time pet owners have managed to have a great time raising rabbits.
In fact, having experience with other pets can shape expectations and set a pet owner up for disappointment. If you expect a rabbit to act like a dog, you will be disappointed. For a more objective outlook, let’s consider the factors that make any pet a good pet:
Manageable Needs: 9/10
No pet is a good pet if you’re not a good pet owner. That’s why you must start with yourself. Can you fulfill an animal’s needs? If you can, then you’re likely to have a good time raising it as a pet. Even the tamest arctic animal cannot be a good pet if you live in Texas.
Rabbits can live comfortably at 55°F to 70°F, which is a temperature that can be maintained with air conditioning in some parts of America and without central cooling or heating in other parts.
Aside from that, they need a constant supply of hay and water. All of these can be provided by the average pet owner.
Domestic Assimilation: 7.5/10
The next factor that makes a pet particularly good for some households is how well it can assimilate into a household. For example, pitbulls, despite being lovely, are poor fits for first-time pet owners with toddlers.
On the other hand, rabbits, when caged, remain clear of trouble, but their tendency to bite for attention and chew on anything they can bite can get exhausting.
If you have kids who might poke a rabbit’s cage, then the rabbit might not make a great pet. If you don’t have kids or your children are grown up enough to be disciplined, you can have rabbits under the same roof.
Rabbits are cute, and visual appeal makes a difference in pet adoption. Most people who get a pet like how the animal looks.
Rabbits are cute, though this opinion is not shared universally. More important than looking good is looking non-threatening.
Rabbits don’t look like a menace, which reduces the chances of them being hurt by other humans. This also makes them better pets.
This factor plays a big role in the long-term sustainability of a pet in any given household. Your disgust sensitivity dictates how much this matters. For some people, animals pooping a lot is a dealbreaker. Rabbits excrete 200+ poop pellets in a day and eat around 25% of them.
This isn’t the exact recipe for the human version of cleanliness, even though it is healthy for rabbits. Again, your disgust sensitivity dictates whether this makes a rabbit a bad pet for you.
While pooping frequently can make an animal a potential bad pet, trainability easily offsets this drawback. Unfortunately, rabbits don’t make up for their poop-machine digestive systems by being any more trainable in the litter department.
But if you are smart enough to physically confine your rabbit to a place where he is forced to poop a few times, you can let him free and expect him to poop in the same spot.
You still can’t teach your bunny not to bite things. This makes rabbits average in trainability.
What to Expect When You Get a Rabbit?
No matter how good a pet an animal is, if you don’t know what to expect, you could be disappointed.
To ensure that you’re making the right decision when you get a rabbit, you need to know what to expect. Please adopt a bunny only if you’re okay with the following.
Slow Process (Earning Their Trust)
Rabbits aren’t for affection-starved people who want immediate attention and company. Extroverted animals like dogs are much better at instantly showing affection. A rabbit, unlike a dog, is a prey animal.
This means the bunny is going to assume you’re a predator until you prove that you are not. Rabbits don’t have the concept of a “provider” outside of their parents. This means your bunny will take his time trusting you. But when he does, he will place you in the role of a parent.
Introverted Displays of Affection
Rabbits are affectionate and sociable. But the way they show affection is not nearly as obvious as extroverted animals. Again, this comes back to the fact that rabbits are prey animals.
They are twitchy and suspicious, even when they adore you. A rabbit’s affection manifests as a headbutt. It is the cutest thing if you know what it means.
Oblivious pet owners might get annoyed by the headbutts. Another way a rabbit shows affection is by rubbing its face against you, which shares its scent profile with you. This is its way of telling you that you are friends.
Purring and Sitting With You
Another way your rabbit shows that you are good friends is by sitting next to you. Rabbits enjoy human company whenever they are in a social mood.
They purr when they are content. In both cases, humans make the mistake of picking them up. Rabbits dislike getting picked up. If your bunny sits next to you, let him sit and enjoy his company.
Nibbling and Pooping
Not everything is good all the time with rabbits. As nervous as rabbits generally are, they are never “scared shitless.” They poop over 200 pellets in a day and eat the soft poop that doesn’t come out as hardened pellets.
To make matters worse, they need to eat the soft poop as it is part of their digestive process. And that means you cannot put your rabbit in a diaper.
Aside from that, rabbits are incessant biters, so you need to get them some chew toys before they decide to chew on your furniture.
Rabbits as Pets: Pros and Cons
|Pros of having a rabbit||Cons of having a rabbit|
|Rabbits have a deeper bond of trust with their owners.||Rabbits poop a lot, and their urine can stink up the house.|
|Rabbits are relatively quiet, making them ideal for people who prefer silence.||Rabbits have a biological need to bite. If they don’t have chew toys, they bite furniture and cage wires.|
|Rabbits don’t have complicated dietary requirements. They can be fed perpetually on bulk-bought hay.||Rabbits don’t like to be picked up. They’re not comfortable in your lap and will hop off when placed on it.|
|Rabbits don’t require a lot of space.||Rabbits have complicated medical requirements. If they don’t see a vet often, they can end up with ear mites, overgrown teeth, and digestive issues.|
|Rabbits don’t need to be taken on long walks.||Rabbits can get hostile if not socialized at a young age.|
|Rabbits live a long time.||Rabbits can escape when not attended to and left in the open.|
Are Rabbits Good Pets for Cat Owners?
Rabbits are good pets for cat owners because cat owners are used to leaving their pets alone—and that’s something rabbits need at times. Moreover, rabbits and cats are both sociable and don’t require helicopter parenting, which makes it easy for cat owners to adopt rabbits.
Cat owners’ expectations aren’t very high when it comes to direct affection. Of course, exceptions exist, but cats’ affection isn’t an “on-demand” luxury. Moreover, cat owners aren’t used to taking their pets on long walks. Adopting a pet that requires long periods of exercise is unnatural for a cat parent.
Finally, cat owners are very sensitive to their pet’s indirect affection. They can spot when their pet shows care even if it uses signals that humans generally don’t relate to affection.
Rabbits meet a lot of expectations that cat owners already have of owning a pet. Just like a cat, a rabbit chooses his own time to show affection and to be aloof. A rabbit doesn’t need to be taken on long walks, either. Above all, a rabbit shows affection in cryptic ways that are much easier for a cat parent to understand.
It is also worth noting that cats and rabbits can coexist but need to be socialized under supervision. Despite similarities in temperament, one is prey and the other a predator. Rabbits aren’t cats’ natural prey, so socializing them is relatively safe. If you socialize your cat and rabbit appropriately, you’ll find them grooming each other.
Having a cat and a rabbit can get overwhelming because of the differences in their diets and medical requirements. Still, it is easy to get used to one if you already own the other. Whether you want to own both is up to you. The rule of thumb is that if you cannot get your cat to stop scratching your chair, you won’t be able to keep your rabbit from biting it.
Are Rabbits Good Pets for Dog Owners?
Rabbits are not good pets for dog owners because the expectations and experience of having a dog are counterproductive to having a rabbit. But if you have a tough time with your dog, you might find a bunny to be a breath of fresh air.
You might say that exceptions can be made, but most dog owners like direct affection and cuddling. Moreover, they also like their pets to obey them in a very straightforward manner. A rabbit doesn’t fulfill any of these expectations.
For starters, dogs are generally extroverted, while rabbits are not. Dogs are socially intelligent enough to hold back their instincts to bite. A rabbit needs to bite just as much as it needs to breathe.
You can take a dog on a walk, but you cannot trust a rabbit in your backyard. These contrasts mean that you need to unlearn the expectations of owning a dog if you plan to raise a rabbit.
You will need to learn to let your pet be and accept that no matter how much you love your rabbit, he will be twitchy and nervous.
And you’ll need to hold back your urge to show affection by giving random treats. A rabbit can die from a sugar overdose and an insulin spike, for instance.
But if you’re a former dog owner who was exhausted from having to deal with everything that comes with having a dog, then a rabbit might be the perfect pet for you. They are very hands-off but do require a degree of supervision.
A dog and a rabbit can coexist if they are raised together from a very early stage. A fully grown dog might bite the rabbit, while a fully grown rabbit might try to escape at the sight of a dog. If you’ve had your dog for over 6 months, avoid getting a rabbit. But if your dog is very young or very old, you might as well become a rabbit owner.
Are Rabbits Good Pets for Hamster Owners?
Rabbits are good pets for hamster owners, though they have different preferences. While hamsters feel bonded when held, rabbits prefer to be left alone. Still, the quiet and introverted nature of both animals makes them ideal for the same type of pet owner.
Hamsters’ diet requirements aren’t very complicated. They can eat the same thing every day. They don’t need to be taken on walks but can do tricks and like to be held when they’re in the mood for affection.
Rabbits are in no way larger carbon copies of hamsters. But since both are prey animals, they can coexist. As a hamster owner, you need to know the key ways in which rabbits differ from hamsters.
For starters, rabbits dislike being held or carried. They also don’t do tricks, and they have a much more restricted staple diet, which consists mostly of hay. Both rabbits and hamsters need chew toys, but the toys cannot be shared because both of these pets are very possessive.
There is no doubt that both can coexist. And if you’re a hamster owner that is willing to put up with the medical costs of owning a rabbit, by all means, get one.
Should You Get a Rabbit?
You should get a rabbit if you’re willing to take care of it and don’t expect it to behave against its nature, which includes incessant biting, pooping a lot, and avoiding contact for long periods. You should not get a rabbit if you are sensitive to odors or have kids who might poke it.
People Who Happily Own Rabbits Are:
- Okay with leaving their pets be – If you cannot leave a rabbit alone, you really shouldn’t be getting one in the first place.
- Can understand the nuances of a rabbit’s way of communicating – Rabbits don’t communicate with social signals that humans generally understand. Dogs are better at that.
- Don’t have kids or have very disciplined kids – Kids can get hurt or may hurt a rabbit. Rabbits are not very kid-friendly pets.
- Are not forgetful of their duties – Rabbits’ litter needs to be cleared very frequently. Rabbit urine can stink up the house.
- Are very patient – Rabbits take a long time to trust. And if you’re not ready to earn said trust, you should probably avoid getting a rabbit.
- Have low disgust sensitivity – Once again, rabbits poop a lot, and their piss smells bad. If you’re sensitive to odors, you should not get a rabbit.
You Should Not Get a Rabbit If:
- You have a very curious child – You’ll have to limit your child’s curiosity or modify your rabbit’s nature, neither of which is possible.
- You want a pet you can cuddle with – Rabbits are cuddly, but they don’t like cuddling unless they choose to.
- You like to share whatever you eat with your pet – Rabbits have very sensitive digestive tracts, and even a slight spike in sugar can result in their death.
- You have an unpredictable dog – Unless your dog has shown strict discipline around other animals, you endanger a rabbit by bringing him to your home. The extent of said danger depends on how disciplined your dog is.
- You want an animal you can take on long walks – Rabbits are not that animal. While they enjoy hopping around in a spacious area, their hay diet doesn’t give them enough surplus energy to exhaust on long walks.
- You’re sensitive to odors – Rabbits don’t stink, but their piss does. And people with high disgust sensitivity can’t be expected to change their litter. Yet, procrastinating on litter tray changes further stinks up a place.
Rabbits aren’t for everyone. They offer a lot of love, but not in ways that are as obvious as a dog’s body language.
They don’t require as much active supervision but have medical needs that must be on the top of their owners’ minds.
Having considered rabbits’ temperament, diet, and maintenance practices, it is fair to conclude that they are good pets, but only for people who like love from a distance and have a lot of patience.