The first question to ask when deciding to get rabbits is “what is my purpose in raising rabbits?” It’s also important to consider how much are rabbits. Do you intend to keep indoor rabbits as pets? Or perhaps even outdoor rabbits as pets? Do you want them for a farm life that includes using their droppings for fertilizer? Perhaps your children are interested in showing rabbits for a 4H club. Or, are you considering raising rabbits for meat? Each one of these decisions will drastically change the answer to your initial questions.
For our purposes today, we are going to focus on the initial cost of raising rabbits, basically as pets whether indoor or outdoor. It may be surprising to learn that rabbits are not the cheap/easy starter pet that they are made out to be. Each one of these sections should be considered as part of an answer to the question “how much are rabbits?”
When raising rabbits as pets, it is important to realize that a long and healthy life is of the utmost importance. A healthy, well-cared for rabbit can easily live 10 years or more. There are many factors that play into this. Having a veterinarian, who is rabbit trained, is not an easy person to find. Most of the time, you will have to visit an exotic veterinarian’s office to locate someone who has even been trained to treat a rabbit. However, this is most important because rabbits are unique and cannot be treated the same as a dog or cat.
Since we are not focusing on breeding stock, an initial recommendation is to have your rabbit spayed or neutered around six months old by a vet who has experience with rabbits. Having this done will drastically decrease hormonal tendencies and will decrease the chance of them getting cancer later in life.
Vet Cost – Approximately $65-85 per visit depending on area and reason. (After initial visit, a regular yearly checkup is recommended)
Spay/Neuter Cost – Approximately $200+ depending on area.
It is always a good idea to have an emergency vet fund ready because you never know when your rabbit may need an unexpected vet visit.
Outdoor rabbits tend to have more issues that may require veterinary care than indoor rabbits usually do. An outdoor rabbit will be exposed to fleas, ticks, mites and flies. A condition known as warbles in rabbits is also common when living outdoors. This happens when a bot fly lays eggs on or near the rabbit so the eggs can attach to the skin. This causes a painful sore as the larvae develops. This usually has to be treated by a vet immediately. Heat strokes and frostbite are also issues that you will have to prevent when raising your rabbits outdoors.
Indoor and outdoor rabbits are both susceptible to digestive issues and have to be watched and immediately treated by a vet if they develop.
How Much Does it Cost to Feed Rabbits?
The old saying that you are what you eat is true about rabbits too.
A variety in their diet is extremely important and high-quality foods will help minimize digestive issues.
Our go-to source of food is not necessarily the best thing for rabbits. Full grown rabbits should only receive around ½ cup of pellets per five to six pounds of body weight per day. The pellets should be purchased in small quantities that can be completely used up in no less than six weeks and should be high in fiber; at least 18 percent is generally recommended.
Timothy hay should be available 24 hours a day. This should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet. A high-quality hay is important and your rabbit will know the difference.
Romaine lettuce, kale, herbs and rabbit approved vegetables should be given daily in rotation. Also, certain fruits can be offered in small quantities as treats. This supply will need to be replenished weekly.
Not skimping on their food will definitely increase their quality of life. For a high-quality pellet, hay and fresh foods, a good estimate is at least $25 per month. This will fluctuate depending on your area, and how you shop, and adding a second rabbit will not usually double the cost of the food.
However, the better you are eating, the higher this price can be. If you are eating fresh foods like this, you can just buy a bit more for your rabbit. Also planting a garden is a great way to save on the cost of fresh food. Again, the answer to, how much are rabbits going to cost, will depend on how well you want to care for them to some degree. Buying quality food will help your rabbits resist disease and live healthier lives. And if you are raising meat rabbits, the better quality you feed your rabbits, the better quality food source they will become.
Proper Bedding & Housing
This is the point when deciding between indoor and outdoor housing becomes important. If you are keeping your rabbits indoors, then it will be much cheaper to house them safely. You can litter box train them and not cage them at all. Or you can purchase a cage to transport them, house the litter pan, food dish, and water. A third option is to build a custom area in your home where they can safely live and play. All-in-all an indoor rabbit enclosure can range from just the cost of a litter box and litter to approximately $100 for initial setup. Premium housing definitely adds on to the question of how much are rabbits.
An outdoor rabbit enclosure is a different situation. Rabbits, who are confined, need a large area that they can fully stand up in and also take at least three full jumps. This enclosure must be predator proof, meaning locks, ½ inch vinyl coated wire sides and a perimeter of wire to keep predators from digging into the area. A unit of sufficient size and quality will usually run at least $300.
For indoor or outdoor rabbits, small animal litter is around $6.00 for a 22-pound bag. A small litter box that is cleaned a couple times a week will usually use this amount in a month. Keeping the box clean will ensure good litter habits, minimal fly issues and much cleaner rabbits. For indoor rabbits, I recommend a soft blanket not pine shavings. Outdoor rabbits generally need something like pine shavings in their house which costs around $9 a bag.
Getting Your Rabbits
Now that we have discussed the basic needs of rabbits, the actual rabbit itself is usually not that expensive. They tend to range in price from $20-$200 depending on breed and age. Purebred, show quality rabbits will always cost more, but if you want a pet rabbit at nearly no cost, make sure to check your local shelters.
As with anything else, you can spend as little or as much as you want on your rabbits. Investing in their health and happiness will reap great rewards. Skimping in areas now can cause larger issues later on that are more costly to treat than they would have been to prevent in the first place. How much are rabbits in your area? Have you found good deals on quality rabbit food? Let us know in the comments below.