We’ve all heard of a typical rabbit myth – that a rabbit’s lifespan is only of a year or two, and thus you should never expect a long term commitment. WRONG! It is nothing but a myth!
Did you know, the oldest rabbit was aged 16 years old? This record-breaking rabbit – Hazel – lived in the United Kingdom with its loving family for 16 years before it passed away. There have been a few other rabbits who survived long enough to be called a teen.
Do you see where I’m going? The average lifespan of domestic rabbits is 8-12 years. If you take proper care of your rabbit – feed it with a healthy diet, take appropriate hygiene measures and take it to a vet for a regular checkup – it will live a long, happy life with your family.
Average Rabbit Lifespan
On average domestic rabbits live up to 8-12 years. Whereas, wild rabbits comparatively have a shorter lifespan. The average rabbits’ lifespan also varies from breed to breed; some breeds tend to live longer than others.
Since the 19th-century, rabbits started living at home with American families. The trend of keeping rabbits as house pets emerged in a short time. Once people saw how cute furry these little beings are, people couldn’t resist giving them a loving home.
Even though they are the same species, wild rabbits and domestic rabbits have different lifespans. It’s very obvious why domestic rabbits live longer – it’s because they get better care and food, and has a lower risk of being attacked. When properly cared for, house rabbits will survive 6-8 years easily.
On the other hand, wild rabbits’ lifespan is shorter. Living in the wild, gathering their food, not being taken care of, and being attacked by predators shortens their lifespan.
Wild rabbits only live a few years as they deal with various diseases that are not being treated. Some wild rabbits die out of starvation. But, most of them are prey to vicious predators. Rabbits are often preyed on by eagles, snakes, hawks, foxes, raccoons and, even owls.
Rabbit Breeds and Lifespan
As I said earlier, rabbits’ lifespan may also vary with the breed of the rabbit. Dwarf breeds of rabbits usually live longer than giant breeds.
Miniature rabbits such as Mini Lops, Netherland Dwarf, Columbia Basin pygmy, Mini English Angora, Jersey Wooly, Holland Lop, Britannia Petite, Miniature Cashmere Lop, Dwarf Hotot, and Lionheads live an average life of 6 – 10 years.
Giant rabbit breeds most commonly kept as house pets are Flemish Giant, Giant Angora, Giant Chinchilla, Checkered Giant, Giant French Lop, Continental Giant, and British Giant. On average, they weight 12 – 15 pounds and have a lifespan of 4-7 years.
Among these, Lionhead, Mini Lop, Rex, Netherland Dwarf, and Polish rabbits are some of the most common breeds kept as house pets. These beautiful breeds of rabbits have a longer lifespan and are best suited for beginners.
Mini Rex Rabbits’ lifespan is about 5-7 years. These quiet and calm breeds don’t need much grooming and make a perfect friend for children. And, Lionhead rabbit lifespan is about 7 – 10 years, they are more energetic, loves to play, and are highly affectionate. Lionhead rabbits, however, require a lot of grooming.
How To Increase Rabbit Lifespan?
As a pet owner, you can increase your rabbits’ lifespan by being responsible and following some standard petting rules. With your nurturing love and care, your rabbit can live a much longer and happier life. Here are some ways to help your rabbit live longer:
Like any other living being, a healthy, nutritious diet works hand in hand with its lifespan. Rabbits have specific nutritional requirements, and it’s necessary to know what to feed your rabbit.
A rabbit’s diet should consist of 80% hay. The other 20% should be covered with special hay pellets and fruits and vegetables. Hay has a lot of fiber, which is necessary to help your rabbit digest. Add other leafy greens to balance the diet.
If your rabbit misses out on some nutrition, that’s when they need hay pellets. Hay pellets are processed treats with all the vital nutrition your rabbit needs.
You should also feed them some fruits and vegetables such as carrots, kale, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers are great choices. Treat them once a day, but keep the portion small. In contrast to popular belief, you can all feed them tomatoes. Read this article [Can rabbit eat tomatoes] to learn more.
One common mistake people make while keeping a rabbit as a house pet is ALWAYS keeping them inside a cage. No matter how cozy the cage might be, your rabbit needs to be set free from time to time.
Rabbits need a clean, spacious cage with all necessary accessories. Get a cage that has enough space for your rabbit to freely more around. Learn more how to choose the best cage for your rabbit.
Keep their cage clean. Clean their dropping and urinated litter daily; once a week, clean out the entire litter tray and re-setup. Also, clean their cage once a week. Clear out the leftover food and hay to eliminate the risk of fungi or bacteria growing inside.
Also, refill their water feeder daily. Your pet feeder invites bacteria and fungi if kept unclean. Unclean bacterial water is one of the most common causes of death in house rabbits.
Physical and Mental Stimulation
But, your rabbit isn’t happy to stay inside the cage all the time. You should let it out at least once a day. Let your rabbit run around and explore your home. Keep them under your supervision to ensure their safety. Once they are comfortable around your living space, you can try to befriend them.
It becomes a lot more fun having a pet once it gets comfortable with you. They need mental stimulation and physical exercise. Get them toys to play with. Try to engage yourself in their playtime. If your rabbit is happy and has a loving bond with you, it is sure to live longer.
It is necessary to give rabbits toys to play with and the time and space to hop around and exercise. To learn more about why your rabbit needs physical and mental stimulation, read this article.
Another common myth about rabbits is – that rabbits don’t need veterinary care like other house pets. INCORRECT! Although rabbits don’t require annual vaccination like dogs and cats, they, however, needs a regular checkup.
Take your rabbit to a vet as soon as you get it. Vets will identify any special condition in your rabbit that you need to take care of. And an annual checkup is very important.
Elder rabbits may require more frequent visits to the vet. They experience rapid changes in a short time. Spaying and neutering also increase their lifespan. Female rabbits are at high risk of getting uterine and mammary cancer.
To ensure your rabbit doesn’t need regular visits to the vet, take some preventive measures yourself. Rabbit proof your house and create an ideal living space for your rabbit in your house. Provide proper bedding and the right food. Keep your rabbit cage clean.
And most importantly, keep your bunny clean – clean your bunny’s ears, brush their fur, trim nails, and clean scent glands. Read this article [how to take care of a rabbit] to learn how to properly take care of your rabbit.
Common Causes of Death in Rabbits
There are many causes of your bunny’s sudden death. Worry not, they can all be cured! Some of the common causes of a rabbit’s death are:
Rabbits should be kept in warmer room temperature. They have a delicate system, and a sudden drop in temperature can be deadly.
Deadly Fly Strike
If a germ-infested fly lands on your rabbit and lay eggs on them. The eggs will hatch and eat your rabbit inside out. They will have a dirty bottom and give out a foul smell. You should regularly check up on your rabbit and keep them clean to prevent this sudden, painful death.
Children Under 12
Children under the age of 12 hold your rabbit or any small pets! Rabbits have very delicate bones that may break easily. Rabbits also die out of shock and anxiety. Keep them away from screaming children.
I said earlier, stress, shock, and anxiety kill rabbits. Any loud noise can shock your bunny and give them a heart attack.
Untrained dogs, ferrets, or cats can be a cause of your rabbit’s death. Slowly introduce them and keep their contact supervised.
Your rabbit is pregnant for a long time, and the fetus inside dies; it may create a toxic situation and kill your rabbit.
Rabbit tend to chew on everything! Make sure whatever you have to your bunny’s reach is nontoxic.
There are numerous reasons what causes sudden death of rabbits.
By now, you should know to ignore the myth that says rabbits don’t live more than two years. With proper care and nutrition, your rabbit’s lifespan can easily be 6 – 12 years.
Now that you know the causes of rabbits’ unnatural death, you can be prepared to identify the symptoms and quickly treat it. Make sure to take them to the vet for regular visits, clean their cage well, and provide them nutritious food and fresh water. And, of course, give your rabbit lots and lots of love!
It is your responsibility to ensure a healthy and happy long life for your pet!