Why Rabbits Make Great House Pets

I’m always surprised that there are still people out there who think rabbits are dumb, boring critters who sit in outdoor hutches doing nothing but sleep and nibble on lettuce. If they spent any time with the assortment of clever little furballs I’ve lived with over the past couple decades, they’d soon discover how wrong this stereotype is.

True, bunnies may not be for everyone – dogs and cats needn’t worry about being replaced as America’s most popular pets any time soon – but if you’re the right kind of pet person, a rabbit might be the perfect animal companion for you. Do you see a bunny (or bunnies) in your future? Here are a few facts to help you decide.

Advantages of the House Rabbit

First, let’s talk advantages over your typical dog or cat. Rabbits won’t bark at the mailman or your visitors. They tend to be quiet, though they get thumpy with disapproval if you’re late with their morning salad, for instance, or feel threatened by some unexpected event or change in their environment. And you may be surprised to find that some rare buns are quite vocal, with a large repertoire of honks, grunts, chirps and other indescribable vocalizations. I speak from experience, here, though only one of the eight rabbits I’ve cohabited with has turned out to be a little chatterbox.

Next, your bunny companions won’t expect you to take them for walks several times a day, even in the worst or weather conditions. Some rabbits do enjoy a stroll on a nice day (you can find some fashionable rabbit harnesses in most pet supply stores that carry bunny gear), but most won’t hold it against you if you’d rather just snuggle on the sofa in the evening.

If they jump up on you or your visitors in an overly enthusiastic greeting, rabbits won’t knock you over, not even the giant breeds or the most rambunctious types. And rabbits hardly ever attack or bite (humans), unless they are threatened or mistreated. They will sometimes fight another bunny, and ferociously if they really don’t like each other. They can, however, get along quite well with dogs or cats as well as fellow bunnies. Some rabbits will insist on dominating their companions and succeed in terrorizing the family dog or cat. Rabbits usually have no trouble standing up for themselves in the family hierarchy.

Rabbits take up little space, and are fairly easily amused with a variety of inexpensive chew toys and cardboard boxes to hide in and shred. They are usually very neat, and easily litter-box trained. Their litter boxes also don’t get as smelly and unpleasant as the typical feline facilities.

Rabbits are vegetarians, and usually not finicky or demanding eaters (though all my bunnies have managed to train me to provide them with an interesting variety of treats). You don’t have to keep them supplied with expensive steaks or fine fish dinners and you’ll never have to cook for them – they prefer their veggies and fruit treats raw.

Rabbit Personalities

Rabbits are not dumb. They are really quite clever, and some have a decidedly wicked sense of humor. Rabbits are not boring. They are lively, athletic, wacky, affectionate, and full of spirit. Rabbits are not timid or cowardly. They tend to be cautious and suspicious of new and unexpected objects in their space. They like routine, but they also need a stimulating and interesting environment. Some bunnies are easy-going couch potatoes who love to snuggle and get lots of pets. Others are very playful and enjoy running through tunnels, up and down ramps, and places to hide in and jump up on. You can even get some superactive buns to engage in agility competitions. Most rabbits thoroughly enjoy being the center of attention and will show off – even perform tricks – if they have an appreciative audience.

Housing Requirements

Why anyone would adopt one or more of these delightful little creatures and keep them in a hutch outside is a mystery to me. Your typical house rabbit expects to be part of your family. He knows he has a lot to contribute to your quality of life and wants to be included in all the fun and, of course, be on hand to receive his fair share of love and cuddles.

Bunnies are active and need some space to run and jump. Your rabbit companion will want to spend some quality time with you, and not be confined to a cage or indoor hutch. But she’ll also require a nice hidy hole (or several) to “get away from it all.” She’ll also need a convenient litter box, a good supply of hay, bunny pellets and some tasty greens, carrots, and other assorted veggies and fruits. Throw in a few boxes to play with, some things to chew on (wooden baby blocks are popular), a bunny-proofed free-range exercise space (no dangling electrical wires), and lots of love and attention, and you’ll have a happy bunny ready to fill your home with joy.