View Full Version : What's it like to own rabbits?

01-04-08, 10:16 pm
I have been giving serious thought to adopting a rabbit but, since I've never owned one or knew anyone who did I thought I'd start here, at least for asking questions I couldn't find the answers to in my research.

What is it like to own a rabbit? What is free time (time out of a cage or pen) like with them? Can they get along with dogs (assuming the dogs are well-behaved and under constant supervision)? How bad are they allergy-wise? (my husband is worried he might be allergic to rabbits because he is allergic to cats). Are they pretty decent with litter training? Since they're not usually fond of being held, do they mind lap time or time next to their owners?

I'd appreciate any advice so I can make a more informed decision.

01-05-08, 07:50 pm
As an owner of three rabbits, I thought I could certainly offer some wisdom. First off, congratulations for being willing to do research and ask questions before becoming a new rabbit owner. You'll be grateful for all of the advice and information that you received prior to adding a bunny to your family - it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.

I'm just going to answer your questions specifically, but if you have any other thoughts or concerns, please feel free to e-mail, IM, or ask them in this thread or another. I'm by no means an authority on rabbits, but, like I said, I have three of my own and have had bunnies my entire life and feel I can add some insights that I've come across thus far.

What is it like to own a rabbit?
Owning a rabbit can be rewarding, but it also means a lot of hard work. Each rabbit's personality is different and it takes time to understand them and win over their trust. I've found that patience is key if you want to develop a positive relationship with your bunny. It's very similar to owning guinea pigs in many ways, but also has very definite differences. Gathering information, asking questions, and research will always help to make you feel more comfortable and at ease. And be wary that, like guinea pigs, rabbits need veterinary care along with a special diet of pellets, unlimited hay, vegetables, and some fruit. They are not, "cheap," animals, but the rewards will always be more than the cost of care, frustration, and the like.

What is free time (time out of a cage or pen) like with them?
A lot of what to expect will depend on whether you want your new bunny to be free-range or exclusively in a cage or pen (with free time outside). Rabbits love to play and always need toys and activity to keep them entertained, thinking, and happy. Their personality will also tell a lot about what to expect during free time. Some rabbits like to explore while others tend to stay close. They do have some undesirable behaviors, so that will also be an issue. Usually chewing, toileting, and other behaviors can be trained out of a rabbit, but only to a degree. Spaying and neutering will also have a lot of say where their behavior is concerned. They can be very entertaining creatures and time with them, in my opinion, is time well spent!

Can they get along with dogs (assuming the dogs are well-behaved and under constant supervision)?
Rabbits can absolutely get along with both dogs and cats. It will take some time and patience, on everyone's part, but it can happen. And, if and when it does, it can be quite a hoot to watch. But, again, it does have a lot to do with the animals' individual personalities.

How bad are they allergy-wise?
Allergies can be a bit of a difficult thing. I'm personally allergic to cats, but am not allergic to my rabbits. But I'd think it's different for everyone. Different breeds of rabbits have different types of fur/hair and will affect each person differently. For example, I've had longer coated rabbits and have had slight allergies to them. But I currently have mini rexes and have no issues whatsoever. Angora/wooled breeds will also affect people differently. I'd absolutely suggest having everyone in your home spend time with a bunny beforehand to ensure there are no allergies to the fur/hair. Bedding, hay, and dust are also things to consider where bunnies are concerned, so please keep that in mind as well.

Are they pretty decent with litter training?
My mini rex, Ruby, was litter trained this week in about three days. I still find a stray poop here and there, but she tends to pee exclusively in her litter box. Spaying and neutering will also make a tremendous difference in litter habits. Rabbits tend to eliminate in one specific area, so it's very simple (in most cases) to train them to use their litter box. There are tons of useful articles on the internet that can help you with that, but just remember that hormones and changes in environment can affect litter habits as well.

Since they're not usually fond of being held, do they mind lap time or time next to their owners?
Some rabbits love to be held, petted, and cuddled. Others don't. Some rabbits will jump all over you. Others won't. Here again I'll mention something for the billionth time - patience is key and each rabbit's personality is different. Maybe that's the most useful advice I can give. It's certainly the most honest.

Whatever happens, I wish you the best of luck. Good job for being willing to ask questions and become educated before getting a rabbit. If it's possible, spend some time with different bunnies at a shelter or rescue. Get to know what rabbits are like, learn, ask questions, and then ask some more. They can be amazing pets, but it's a lot of work and takes...what? Patience! And depends on...what? Each bunnies individual personality! Remember that, and you'll excel for sure.

01-05-08, 08:46 pm
thank you so much for your advice and answers, I really appreciate it. I find that patience is the key to many pet issues. :) It sounds like a rabbit might fit in well in our household, after proofing and training. I'll have to keep my eye out for the perfect bun!

01-05-08, 09:52 pm
For great rabbit info, take a look at:

House Rabbit Society Rabbit Care Guide (http://www.rabbit.org)

Morfz.com (http://www.morfz.com)
(rabbit refs)

01-06-08, 03:52 pm
I'm the guardian three 24-hour cage-free house rabbits. Living with them is a delight.
My rabbits don't have a cage but they do all stay in one room at night. When they're "out" they're generally more active in the evening and the morning. During the daytime [sometime around 10AM-4PM] they just lie about and sleep.
Yes, they can get along with dogs but it is recommended that the dog be either muzzled or very strictly supervised.
As for allergies, two of my rabbits are half-Rex and one is a Dutch. My mom has mild rabbit allergies and rarely ever sneezes around them. She also has seasonal allergies so her rabbit allergies are a little worse in the spring and late summer. Rexes have been called hypoallergenic bunnies because even people with severe allergies have little to no reactions to them.
Litter training takes some patience and even perfectly trained bunnies have accidents every once in a while but it's generally pretty easy. I trained my newest bunny to use a litterbox just by putting one in her pen. She preferred it to "going" all over the place-- and this was before she was spayed. [Spaying and Neutering is very important with rabbits as they often develop reproductive-related problems later in life, especially females].
My two male bunnies don't like being touched but my female bunny loves to be petted and held. It really all depends on the rabbit. Some rabbits will hop right up to you and demand to be petted, some are very particular about never being touched.
If you live in the US you can go to House Rabbit Society Rabbit Care Guide (http://www.rabbit.org) to find an HRS chapter nearest you. They can often provide you with a litter trained, neutered rabbit for a reasonable adoption fee. Good luck!

Rattie Mom
01-11-08, 09:58 pm
We adopted our first two bunnies this last July. They are a bonded dward male/female pair. Both are altered and are about 4 years old. They absolutely love each other and I dread the day one leaves us, as I know the other will be devastated.

My bunnies were rescue bunns. They were adopted out once, then brought back to the shelter when their family decided they didn't want them anymore. I believe the family had small children that grabbed at the bunnies alot, because my female (Sam) was just terrified of hands, being petted or held. Harvey didn't like being picked up either, but would be fine with you petting him.

Now that I've had them for over 6 months, they are both very lovely, happy and friendly bunnies. Sam still doesn't like to be pet, but she will allow me the occasional quick pet, and is fine once I'm holding her.

These two were litter trained when I got them and are just super about it.

We have our bunnies in a crate that is made for xtra large dogs. During the day, we keep their crate doors open and they have free range of our kitchen area. At night, we put up an xpen around the crate, so they still have room to roam a bit, but are safe.

I worried about our cat and dog....but thankfully only for about a week. We got our bunnies just a couple of weeks after our two oldest kitties passed away. Our remaining kitty was very lonely. Summer now spends a great majority of her time, right in the kitchen with the bunnies. She'll even lay next to them. She thinks they love her....but we won't tell her they only tolerate her ;). Our dog is a yellow lab, so not a small dog. Samson doesn't even pay attention to the bunnies and he can walk right past them and they won't even flinch. They just look at him like "hey stupid dog" :).

It's actually very harmonious in our house. I would trust the dog and cat alone with the bunnies, but we never do that. When we leave or go to bed, the bunns are safely in their crate or behind their xpen.

I think the one downside to having bunnies for me, is I love animals I can pet, hold and snuggle. I think bunnies might be a bit more independent than cats in that they like to be around you...but aren't always that thrilled about the snuggling. At least that's how it is with mine. However, mine are still becoming more and more friendly. So I think they are just taking their time deciding if I am acceptable.

Pamela Barr
01-14-08, 03:33 pm
They are great pets! I'm allergic to cats terribly but rabbits don't bother me though sometimes they lay in their hay and that will. I've owned numerous animals and I can definitely say the rabbit has been my favorite. They are so sweet and mine loved to be held, they even go to sleep in my arms while laying on their backs! Angoras needs alot of brushing but they are awesome! Good Luck!

01-14-08, 09:24 pm
My lionhead seems to have a really great disposition.
From what I've read, that's a great people-rabbit breed.
She loves being petted, but not being picked up. I'm hoping to get her to give in to me. lol.

I think what first attracted me is that I had been watching the wild rabbit families in our back yard, and so actually owning an animal like that is just very magical, like owning a deer or something like that. You see them in the wild, and they're such precious animals; and to have one in your home, letting you take care of it seems like such a privilledge.

I'll sit with her and stroke her ears, and it's like i'm in a field with one of God's creatures.
:love: :heart: :love: :heart: