The appeal to have a bunny as a pet has taken off recently. A pet rabbit is cute, active, quiet, relatively easy to care for, and an excellent companion. Who doesn’t want such a cute creature to live a long and healthy life alongside us?
Rabbits weren’t very popular house pets, until recently. They were thought to be smelly, untrainable, and destructive, good for being outside only. As a result, not everyone knows how long rabbits live and what it takes to care for one.
It’s much more common to see popular pets like dogs, cats, and other pets around humans. That’s why their lifespans are fairly common knowledge.
You’ll be surprised to know that bunnies are fairly long-lived pets. I’ll tell you more about the lifespan of a rabbit in this article. I’ll also throw in a few tips and tricks to assure a long and healthy life for your bunny buddy.
Let’s take a look at rabbit life expectancy and how it’s affected by us.
How Long Do Rabbits Live?
The average lifespan of a domestic rabbit is about 5 to 10 years. There are a lot of factors that can affect this. In the wild, rabbits live for only a few years many never making it past their third or fourth birthday.
Wild rabbits live very stressful lives. They are constantly in danger from predators, may suffer from water and food shortages, and are exposed to many diseases.
Domestic rabbits on the other hand live very privileged and sheltered lives. They get everything they need from their humans. Many pet rabbit owners even opt to take their fluffy friends for yearly check-ups at the vet.
Oldest Rabbit On Record
The oldest rabbit to ever live was a wild-born rabbit named Flopsy from Australia. Flopsy lived to be 18 years and almost 11 months old. Besides Flopsy, there was also a rabbit called Mick that reached the age of 16 and another called Heather that turned 15 before passing away.
Flopsy is for sure the oldest rabbit we know of, but there might be more that was never recorded. Rabbits don’t make it to their teens very often, so to have one is quite an achievement as a rabbit owner. If you have a rabbit that’s 14 years old or older, you’re a rabbit-keeping legend!
What Affects A Pet Rabbit’s Lifespan?
Generally speaking, you can say a spayed or neutered rabbit may live to an age between 6 and 13 years old. There are many factors to consider when trying to figure out how long a pet bunny will live, however. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Breed Size And Health Concerns
Just like in dogs, breed size does make a difference when it comes to rabbit age. Generally, larger breeds of domestic rabbits live shorter lives than smaller rabbits. This means that dwarf rabbits, like the Netherland dwarf, may live a longer life than the Flemish Giant and other giant breeds.
On top of that, you need to also consider inherited genetic problems. Some domesticated rabbits are much more prone to developing breed-related health concerns. These problems could potentially shorten the lifespan of your pet rabbit.
For instance, dwarf bunnies have shortened noses. This makes them more susceptible to dental diseases and tear duct blockages.
Larger breeds on the other hand are more sensitive to warm weather conditions. They find it much more difficult to cool down so extra care must be taken if you have an outdoor bunny. They’re also more susceptible to heart disease and arthritis due to their size.
In some cases, a specific breed is more susceptible to a certain problem. For instance, the Dutch rabbit breed has an increased risk of developing cancer.
Unfortunately, pet rabbit owners like you and I have no control over this. All you can do is keep your rabbit healthy, take it for regular check-ups at the vet, and hope it lives a long happy life with you.
2. Rabbit Nutrition And Life Span
Most pet rabbits live the longest when fed the proper diet. Nutrition plays a major role in the average lifespan of a bunny no matter the breed.
Pet rabbits are herbivores and thus need a diet specifically tailored for their needs. Unlike most herbivores, however, they can’t ruminate (chew the cud) like cows and sheep can.
To make up for this, domestic rabbits eat cecotropes (special soft poop with lots of vitamins in it). Don’t panic if you see your pet rabbit eating its own poop, it’s normal behavior. Rather start worrying if your pet rabbits stop eating their own feces.
The eating of feces is called coprophagy. In rabbits, it’s very important if you want your bunny to live a long life.
Wild rabbits also display this behavior. Cecothropes are usually produced early in the morning and can be recognized by their smell and soft texture. Normal bunny poop is quite hard, dry round pellets with almost no scent.
What To Feed Your Pet Rabbit
The main part of a rabbit’s diet is grass hay. It’s best to give an unlimited supply of hay so your pet can eat as much as it wants. If your pet rabbit is older than 3 months, you can also introduce fresh food like leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.
Young bunnies should only be fed rabbit pellets along with unlimited hay. Make sure the pellets contain no colorful pieces, nuts, or corn.
Stick to plain old boring rabbit food with no extras. If there’s a tiny bit of corn in the pellet ingredients, it shouldn’t be a problem, but large dried corn kernels can cause serious intestinal blockages.
You can also check out this article, What To Feed Your Rabbit Daily, for more detailed information on feeding bunnies.
3. Indoors VS Outdoor Living
All pets need somewhere to stay. More and more people are allowing domesticated rabbits into their homes. These rabbits are referred to as house rabbits and are becoming very popular pets for those in apartments.
Pet rabbits are relatively quiet and don’t need a very large space to run. If your pet bunny will be living indoors, you can get a large hutch with a puppy pen attached to it. This will help you to create a safe house rabbit environment away from any electric cables and wooden furniture.
Outdoor pet rabbits live just as long as other bunnies if given a proper home. They need somewhere to take shelter from bad weather and an area to run and graze. If you have no grazing, you’ll need to provide lots of hay.
Outdoor pet rabbits are more exposed, however, so you need to visit the vet more regularly vet and also stay on top of vaccinating on time. Keep your rabbit away from any natural predators by making sure the hutch is completely secure with a roof and a wire floor.
4. Exercise And Enrichment
A pet rabbit needs mental stimulation to stay healthy. Rabbits tend to get bored very quickly. This can get them into trouble which can be detrimental to your rabbit’s health.
You can provide mental stimulation in the form of chew toys can you get from any pet store, homemade toys, and supervised free roaming time. Pet stores usually have quite a collection of toys.
The toys also don’t have to be specifically for rabbits. Bunnies enjoy cat tunnels, wooden toys for birds, and an array of toys for other animals. Just make sure they are safe for chewing on!
For homemade boredom busters, you can give your bunny a simple maze made from cardboard boxes. You can also stuff a toilet roll with some leafy greens and watch them trying to get it out. If you have an extra litter tray, fill it with soil to create a dig box. They absolutely love it and it’s low maintenance.
No matter how many years old your bunny is, playing and running will always be a favorite pass time for most rabbits. For exercise get a puppy pen or use a baby gate to section off a part of your home. Make sure it’s bunny safe and let them run. Bunnies that get to exercise regularly stay fit and thus live longer.
5. Spaying And Neutering
If you don’t plan on breeding with your rabbits, it’s a great idea to get them spayed or neutered. Male rabbits tend to start spraying urine everywhere when they reach sexual maturity. They do this as a way to mark their territory and everything in it including you.
Male rabbits might also start grunting and become aggressive. If he was part of a bonded pair, you might notice them fighting more due to hormones taking over.
Female rabbits also spray urine occasionally, but it’s a more prominent trait in males. You might notice your female rabbits start refusing to use the litter box, however. Spaying and neutering help with house training.
It also helps to avoid health concerns related to the reproductive tract and of course, it also avoids hundreds of babies.
Rabbits can breed every 32 days. The male can mate with the female rabbits as soon as they gave birth. It’s best to keep your rabbit male away from the females.
When you take hormones out of the mix, rabbits tend to live a long and happy life.
6. Veterinary Care
The last thing that plays a big role in rabbit health is routine veterinary care. Bunnies need to go for yearly check-ups to make sure they have no dental issues and to get their vaccinations done. Rabbit’s teeth never stop growing so it’s very important to check for any issues if you want your bun to live longer.
Pet care is your most important duty as a rabbit owner. No matter which rabbit breeds you keep, staying up to date with health care is the key to a long life.
Wild Rabbits Live Longer In Captivity
Have you ever asked yourself: How long do rabbits live in captivity? The answer is much longer than in the wild. In captivity, they are protected from natural predators, checked for health issues, and fed proper diets.
These rabbits are given everything they need to live a long life. This significantly improves the rabbit lifespan of captive bunnies.
Lifespan Of Different Rabbit Breeds
If you’re not sure if your bunny is a dwarf or a standard-sized breed, check out the list below:
- Dwarf breedsExpected rabbit lifespan: 7-14 years.Any rabbit breeds weighing between 0.6-2.27 kg (1.5 – 5 Ib) as adults.
- Netherland dwarf
- Dwarf English Angora
- Holland lop
- Dwarf lionhead rabbit
- Dwarf Hotot
- Polish rabbit
- Dwarf lop
- Himalayan rabbit
- Mini Rex
- Standard breedsExpected rabbit lifespan: 6-10 years.Any rabbit breeds weighing between 2.3- 3.6kg (5.1 – 8 Ib) as adults.
- English Angora
- English spot
- Standard Rex
- Standard Chinchilla
- Giant breedsExpected rabbit lifespan: 5-8 years.Any rabbit breeds weighing between 3.7-9.1+ kg (8-20+ Ib) as adults.
- Checkered giant
- Flemish giant
- Chinchilla giganta
- Continental giant
The Pet Rabbit Live Cycle
In the wild, rabbits live to reproduce. It’s their whole purpose. Pet rabbits on the other hand live to be loved by us. Most pet rabbits can’t reproduce. Rabbits are low-maintenance pets if you’re prepared for them.
A rabbit’s life cycle begins here with a tiny baby called a kit being born. This kitten is quite different from the fluffy hopper we know and love. It was born blind, deaf, and without hair. Baby rabbits don’t begin to see their surroundings until about 1-2 weeks after birth.
In the first month of its life, the baby bunny drinks from mom and starts to nibble on some grass from the nest.
It will eat and sleeps in the same place, always relying on its mom for nutrition while it learns how to be a rabbit. Babies grow extremely fast and need to be fed high-protein foods.
After 2 months the young bunny is considered old enough to be on its own. They remain near their mom and sibling, but they are now considered independent.
Pet rabbits may be adopted from a family home when they reach 8 weeks (2 months) old. At this stage, they are very easy to train and integrate into your household. They are considered youngsters until they reach one year of age.
Most rabbits can reproduce from as young as 4 months old. Rabbits are only considered adults, however, when they are around one to two years old depending on the breed.
Once rabbits reach five to seven years old, they are considered seniors. These rabbits typically shouldn’t be bred anymore. Senior rabbits need to be fed the proper nutrition to keep them healthy and help them live longer.
Tips For A Long And Healthy Life Expectancy For Your Pet Rabbits
If you want your cotton-tailed friend to live as long as possible, make sure you do the following:
- Feed unlimited hay
- Feed the right amount of rabbit pellets (read the package instructions)
- Give your bunny lots of space to run and exercise
- Provide lots of toys and activities for mental stimulation
- If you have an outdoor bunny, make sure the enclosure is predator proof
- Make sure your outdoor bun has shelter from the elements
- Keep bunnies in pairs. Rabbits are very social creatures
- Take your cotton-tailed friend for regular vet checkups
- Keep the cage clean
- Wash your hands before you touch your bun
These are all great ways to keep your rabbit healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do rabbits live as pets?
Rabbits live between 5 to 10 years as pets. A lot will depend on the breed of your bunny, its health, and what you feed it.
Can a bunny be happy in a cage?
Definitely. As long as the cage is big enough to accommodate lots of running and jumping. Cages are best used outside to protect your bun from predators.
Does what I feed my rabbit affect its lifespan?
Yes, pet rabbits need to be fed the right diet for them to live healthy lives. They need lots of grass hays, rabbit pellets, fresh greens, vegetables, and an occasional treat.
How long do dwarf rabbits live?
Dwarf breeds live longer than large breeds. The average lifespan of smaller breeds is between 7 to 14 years old. Living on a poor diet might affect your rabbit’s health and life span. Domesticated animals rely on humans to keep them healthy and happy.
How long do mini-lop-eared rabbits live?
These tiny rabbits can live between 7 to 14 years. They are part of the dwarf breeds. These bunnies are very popular house rabbit candidates. Just make sure to check their ears regularly for any infections.
How long does a rabbit live in the wild?
Wild rabbits live shorter lives than domesticated rabbits. You can expect wild rabbits to live for around 3 to 5 years. The reason for the shorter lifespan is due to predators, food shortages, and diseases.
In captivity, these bunnies stand a much bigger chance to live to the same age as domestic rabbits.
Did you get your bunny yet? If not, you can now adopt without worries. Make sure you adapt your rabbit’s diet to a healthier one if you haven’t yet, expand the exercise area and add lots of bunny safe toys. Your little hopper will entertain you for years to come!