If you have a rabbit or are considering adopting one, then you may be wondering: how long do rabbits live?
Throughout the years, people have adopted rabbits as pets, and this has seen their life expectancy increase to between 6 and 12 years on average.
This is in contrast to their wild rabbit counterparts which have an average lifespan of 1-2 years. Wild rabbits are faced with starvation, predators and diseases which greatly reduce their life expectancy.
Like hamsters (see our life expectancy article here), there are many factors that affect the lifespan of rabbits, including:
1. Breed & Size
When it comes to rabbits, the size greatly affects the lifespan of the rabbit, and in most cases, it’s used as an indicator of how long the rabbit is going to live.
Dwarf breeds such as the Netherland Dwarf and other small bunnies will generally live longer than giant breeds like the Flemish Giant and French Lop.
Large rabbit breeds live for around five years because they are prone to health problems and diseases. Smaller breeds such as the lop-eared and Lionhead rabbits have been known to hit double figures, averaging a lifespan of 10 to 12 years!
2. Quality Of Life
Like other pets, rabbits need ample space and mental stimulation. Unfortunately, many people believe they are happy when caged in small spaces their entire lives.
When trained, rabbits are capable of living both outdoors and indoors. They too need a lot of space, toys and a constant fresh food supply. Caged rabbits have a short lifespan of 3 to 4 years; they often die prematurely due to stress.
Provide a peaceful environment for your bunny as much as possible. Letting cats or dogs taunt it, or grabbing it awkwardly or aggressively, can cause pressure and shock which can greatly reduce its life expectancy.
Apart from food and the proper environment, the health of the rabbit plays an important role in determining how long it will live.
Rabbits too can develop illness or get attacked by parasites. If left untreated, the lifespan of the rabbit will be greatly reduced.
Ensure you practice good hygiene, regularly cleaning the rabbit’s housing and washing your hands prior to handling of the rabbit. Poor handling of rabbits can reduce their lifespan to even less than a year.
Have a veterinarian inspect the rabbit regularly so as to bring any disease or infection under control before it gets worse.
Neutering or spaying has been known to increase the lifespan of domestic rabbits by several years. Male rabbits are known to develop testicular cancer while female ones are prone to uterine and mammary gland tumors. By getting your rabbit neutered or spayed, you will greatly reduce the possibility of your pet getting cancer.
When choosing a rabbit to adopt, sex is basically a matter of personal preference. The lifespan of female rabbits is usually lower than that of males because they are more prone to diseases and are at very high risk of developing uterine and mammary tumors.
If you want to get a female rabbit, have it spayed, as this increases its life expectancy from 5 years to around 8 or 10 depending on the breed.
Males, though prone to infections and diseases, tend to be easygoing. If you want two rabbits to keep each other company, the best pairing is a spayed female and neutered male. This has been known to prolong the life of the rabbits because the social benefits help stave off depression.
Having two rabbits live together has also shown to increase their appetites due to food competition, which is actually good and should be encouraged.
There is a trending misconception that rabbits are the easiest pets to keep because they don’t need much attention or care. Many rabbits suffer as a result. They too need proper care, handling, the right diet, spacious housing, attention, and affection.
Before you make any purchase or go through with an adoption, know that the rabbit will be part of your family for a long time. Make sure you choose the breed you want carefully, and ensure its annual vaccinations are done on time. Create an environment that is conducive to it thriving.
Rabbits are among the cutest pets you can have around. The oldest rabbit in the Guinness World Records was 18 years old; let’s see how close your rabbit can get to that number!