Owning a Bunny - Everything I’ve learned through the past 4 years of “Winging It”
Since getting my Miniature Lop named Riley, I have had tons of questions about what she is like and what it is like to be a bunny mom. Without a doubt, owning a rabbit is way less common than owning a cat or dog! Strangely enough, in the past few years it seems like owning bunnies have become more popular. This could be due to more people realizing what awesome pets they make or it could be the fact that I am more aware of fellow bunny owners. Who knows!
When I bought my rabbit, I was 20 years old and had just started my Junior year of College. For some reason, I had spent the summer wanting a bunny despite the fact that I thought they seemed kind of mean! During the fall of 2014, I spent many hours hunched over my laptop scanning my College’s Free & For Sale page looking at cute bunnies for sale. I even got as far as dragging my roommates to a random apartment to look at a bunny that I was contemplating getting. I ended up finding a pet store in my local College town that had a pen full of baby rabbits. I found a cute, grey one that I liked and drove various friends over to the pet store to tell me what they thought. After my third visit, I skipped my lecture class and drove over to pick up my bunny! Looking back, I should have purchased a bunny from a Humane Society but as awful as it sounds (especially because I've been volunteering at Humane Societies for a few years now), I have never adopted a pet in that way before.
The responsible, adult thing to do would have been to discuss this situation with my parents and do a lot of research beforehand. I am a somewhat impulsive person so instead, I spontaneously bought a bunny and literally bought all of the supplies the day before. Also, I don’t remember doing any research ahead of time and didn’t even start out with a bunny cage (it was some used dog crate/cage I found for free online). Since getting Riley, I have a learned a LOT through trial and error and a lot of online research. For those of you who have asked or are curious, here are a lot of the things I learned about having a bunny that would have been helpful to know beforehand! I’ve also included some frequently asked questions further down in this post. Thank you again to everyone who responded to my Instagram Story with all of their bunny questions!
Getting them spayed or neutered is EXPENSIVE! It cost me $495 to get Riley fixed and at the time, I had to borrow the money from my mom (I was a broke College student at the time but don’t worry, I paid her back with my first tax return!). Although pricey, getting your rabbit fixed is important so they can live a long and healthy life.
They are the sweetest creatures! There is something very calming and wise about rabbits that is unlike any other animal I have owned
Bunnies can be very affectionate and they are social animals! Although they do not always want to be cuddled and touched (like humans?), Riley has times where she wants to cuddle and receive nose pets. She also loves giving bunny kisses to the extent where I have to lock her up in her cage sometimes because the licking gets soooo annoying!
Bunny-proof everything! I have never had a baby but I would assume it is pretty similar. Objects that Riley has destroyed include: multiple computer and phone charges, shoes, handbags, books, carpet and even my box spring for my bed etc.
Carrots are actually not that great for bunnies. Similar to the belief that milk is good for cats, carrots are not that great for rabbits. Although they LOVE them and will love you for giving them a carrot, carrots are very sweet and should only be given in small pieces as an occasional treat
Bunnies are very active in the evenings and mornings. There was a 2 week period over this past summer where Riley woke me up every morning at 4:30am much to my dismay though just in time to watch the sun rise
They are hella smart! Not only is Riley litter box trained, I also bought her a logic game meant for dogs and she totally mastered it. She has also learned her name though, unlike a cat or dog, she does not come with called but instead will perk up an ear.
Cage necessities should include a water bottle, a litter box with a metal cover, some toys, timothy hay, dry food and a bed/mat so they can give their feet a break from the harsh metal wiring. Some owners don’t do a litter box with a cover but I had to because otherwise Riley likes to dig and kick all of her litter EVERYWHERE
They are not a good pet for children! For some reason many parents think it is a great idea to buy a cute bunny rabbit for their child as a present. Honestly having a bunny is way more work than owning a cat and in some ways, owning a dog. You constantly need to clean their litter box and cage and let them out to run around and play. Bunnies also will bite and nip which could be a traumatic experience for a child.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much do they cost? In general they are pretty affordable! Every 8 weeks I order Riley’s food, litter and treats from Chewy for under $50. Once a year I also take her to the vet which is about $57. Starting next year I will be taking her to the vet twice a year as advised for rabbits over 5 years of age. The most expensive thing was getting her fixed but if you buy them from a Humane Society, they should already have been neutered or spayed
Where does Riley live/sleep? Riley has always lived in my room! She recently got an upgrade and now lives in a two bedroom outdoor hutch that I keep inside. Often I will leave her door and her ramp open so she can come and go as she pleases! In one of the rooms in the hutch, I bought her a sherpa dog bed which is where she will usually sleep
Both Riley and I love this hutch because it gives her a lot of room and it matches my bedroom furniture. It also gives her more privacy depending on if she wants to be in her bedroom or out in the main space. For reference, I got the largest size but it comes smaller as well! You can shop it below!
How often do you feed her? I feed her dry food every morning and evening and then make sure she has hay all the time. As a treat I will give her some fresh lettuce and occasionally a few bites of banana which is her favorite
Do they get sick easily? So far Riley has never been sick! It did take her a few days to recover from her surgery when she got spayed but after a few days she was back to normal. Keeping her inside definitely helps but unlike cats and dogs, they do not need regular flea medicine or anything like that.
Is it possible to own a bunny and still work full time? Yes! I work full time and also am busy with blog stuff but still have time for Riley. The great thing about bunnies is they are pretty good at taking care of themselves. Whenever possible, I will leave her cage open so she can get exercise and I play with her every evening. I do think she gets bored sometimes without another bunny to talk and play with
How do you know what she is saying? The super weird thing for me is that they do not talk! If you hear a bunny make a vocal noise, it is probably because it is dying or terrified. Bunny body language is also very different from other animals so it took me a lot of research to understand what Riley was doing and how to try to communicate with her.
Where do I get one? Like any type of pet there is always the option to go to a breeder. If you are just looking for a fYou can also often find bunnies at pet stores which is how I got Riley. My biggest recommendation would be to go to a Humane Society though! I paid about $25 for Riley but at the local Humane Society in Oregon, you can get a bunny for $15 and they come fixed and usually trained. This way you give a bunny a home and save about $500!
What kind of bunny do you have and how old is she? Her birthday is in August so she is almost 5 years old this summer. At first we did not know if she was a holland lop or miniature lop (holland lops are smaller) but based on her recent vet visit, we are now pretty sure she is a miniature lop. If they are a lop, they will have the cute, floppy ears!
I would love to hear what you all thought of this blog post especially since it is a bit different from my usual posts! If there are any other bunny mom’s out there, give me a shoutout! I always love exchanging bunny stories! Also, if you thinking about getting a bunny or just have more questions about my experience with Riley, please let me know!
If you think Riley is the cutest and want to follow her on Instagram, you can do so here