Cats and Dogs
Article Rating
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

Do rabbits get more cuddly with age?

How Long Do Bunnies Live? Rabbit Lifespan Explained

Social and affectionate with a calm demeanor, bunnies can make great family pets with the appropriate care.

Beth Woolbright, the interim executive director of the House Rabbit Society (HRS) highlighted their unique personalities, telling Newsweek: «Not every person has the temperament to live with a rabbit. Patience, curiosity, and a sense of humor go a long way.»

With that being said, if you believe a rabbit is the perfect addition to your family, you may have some questions.

Here’s what you need to know about a rabbit’s lifespan, how long bunnies live and how to keep them happy.

How Old Is a Rabbit in Human Years?

Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Michael San Filippo, explained: «A lot depends on the individual rabbit, and probably the main thing to consider when doing these kinds of conversions [of rabbit years to human years] is when they reach sexual maturity,» which can vary from 3.5 months to nine months depending on the size of the breed.

Below is a chart outlining the rough conversion of rabbit age to human age, as confirmed by the HRS’ Woolbright:

Rabbit ageHuman age
1 week1 year
2 weeks2 years
3 weeks4 years
4 weeks6 years
2 months8 years
3 months10 years
4 months12 years
5 months14 years
6 months16 years
1 year21 years
2 years27 years
3 years33 years
4 years39 years
5 years45 years
6 years51 years
7 years57 years
8 years63 years
9 years69 years
10 years75 years

A baby rabbit seen at a farm.

How Long Do Bunnies Live?

With a good diet and proper care, a rabbit’s lifespan can range anywhere from five to 15 years when kept indoors, said the AVMA’s San Filippo.

Ideally, bunnies should be handled and socialized from a young age so they can become comfortable with people. All female rabbits should be spayed by the time they are one year of age to prevent reproductive cancer, San Filippo advised.

Pam Runquist, the executive director of veterinary outreach for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) told Newsweek rabbits that are kept «healthy and happy» can live for more than a decade.

The HRS’ Woolbright said an old rabbit used to live around seven years but rabbits now live much longer lives. Their lifespan depends a lot on a good diet, the owner’s level of education on rabbit care and the pet’s genetics.

Having the rabbit spayed/neutered is also critical to their health, as it allows them to live with other bunnies, Woolbright stressed.

The experts recommend bunnies should be adopted rather than purchased from a pet shop, as «small animals are often raised in deplorable conditions when they’re bred for pet stores to sell,» according to the HSVMA’s Runquist.

«If you’re considering adding a rabbit to your family, please skip the pet store and consider adoption. contact your local rescue or shelter to see if you can give a loving home to a rabbit who needs one,» Runquist advised.

San Filippo also said adoption or purchasing from a reputable breeder are great options for getting a pet rabbit. Since they are social animals, «adopting a bonded pair is ideal when possible,» he added.

When it comes to selecting a pet rabbit, you’ll want to be sure the animal appears bright, alert, and active. «A rabbit with a dull or rough hair coat or one that is too thin, pot-bellied, or sluggish may be ill,» the AVMA spokesperson warned.

A pair of bunnies outdoors.

Rabbit Care Essentials

According to Woolbright: «The most important aspects of sharing one’s home with a rabbit are to keep the bunny safe, tend to their mental and emotional needs and respect the rabbit for who they are.»

Diet and nutrition

A proper diet is key for your rabbit’s health and rabbit pellets alone are not enough to meet their nutritional needs, which vary with age.

While young growing rabbits require alfalfa-based pellets for their calcium needs, older rabbits should be given grass hay and pellets, such as timothy hay, he advised.

A daily source of fresh greens and «free choice high-quality grass hay for roughage,» are essential, as is fresh water and daily exercise (more on this later) to keep your rabbit healthy, he said.

Bunnies require high fiber diets, so around 80 percent of their food intake should come from a variety of grass hays, so «ironically, frequently, when people think they are allergic to rabbits, it may actually be the hay variety,» said the HRS’ Woolbright.

Around 10 percent of their nutrition should be «bunny-safe fresh vegetables,» with five percent being rabbit pellets and five percent or less being treats, such as a slice of carrot or banana, according to the HRS director.

Pellets are more of an «owner convenience,» so there are many bunnies that live on a pellet-free diet, Woolbright explained.

A pair of rabbits eating.

A Safe Indoor Environment

Pet rabbits thrive most in a comfortable environment within your home, and not in outdoor hutches or cages in a garage or basement, noted the HSVMA’s Runquist.

While keeping a rabbit outdoors in a hutch may feel more «natural,» it can be harmful as the rabbit is exposed to weather extremes as well as predators such as cats, dogs and foxes. «Even if a predator cannot get access to the rabbit, the rabbit could die from the stress of an attempted attack,» the AVMA’s San Filippo warned.

The HRS’ Woolbright also said: «Life outdoors for a domestic rabbit is a time-bomb,» the safest and most rewarding place for a bunny to live is within the house, as part of the family.

It’s important to choose the right cage or hutch for your breed of rabbit, San Filippo said. «The cage should have enough room for the animal to move around freely. Avoid wire bottomed cages as this can lead to foot problems.»

Most cages tend to be too small for rabbits, so the HRS recommends exercise pens, which may contain a cage where the door is never shut. These pens may also come with a litter box that contains the hay and where the bunny also relieves themselves, water and food bowls, boxes and tunnels for hiding and toys, the HRS’ Woolbright said.

A grey bunny sitting on a table.

Exercise and Interaction

Bunnies require regular and gentle social interactions as well as at least an hour outside their enclosures each day to exercise, said the HSVMA’s Runquist.

Your home will need to be «bunny-proofed,» so that the pets remain safe if they are allowed to wander around the house outside their cage for a bit.

Owners need to ensure electrical cords, books and other temptations have been protected around the space where their pet rabbits are allowed to wander as bunnies can be active chewers, diggers or climbers or be couch potatoes too, the HRS’ Woolbright explained.

San Filippo said you should also be mindful of small holes, large drops or other potential hazards around the house to ensure its «supervised time outside of the cage» remains safe.

Woolbright notes bunnies are much more interactive than their reputation and have their own individual likes and dislikes. Like three-year-old kids, rabbits need mental enrichment and appropriate interaction with humans.

Most bunnies prefer their affection on the floor, rather than being held in someone’s arms, Woolbright explained. Both rabbits and children require supervision.

San Filippo said there are also many bunny safe toys available, including homemade ones, that can help ensure your bunny gets a sufficient amount of enrichment in their lives.

The Importance of Spaying or Neutering Your Rabbit

Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet, Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet,

September 30, 2020

by Dianne Cook, Licensed Veterinary Technician

As pet parents, we all want our fur babies to live forever. Though we have yet to stumble upon that fountain of youth, there are some steps we can take to help ensure our furry family members live well into their golden years. One of the ways we can do this is by having our rabbits spayed or neutered. For decades, veterinarians have been educating us about the benefits of spaying or neutering cats and dogs, but rabbit parents are often left wondering if these procedures are appropriate, or even safe, for their little ones. While no surgical procedure goes without risks, it is important to do your due diligence and learn all you can about these elective surgeries and how they can help give your little one the longest, happiest, healthiest life possible.

Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Rabbit?

Spaying or neutering your rabbit can significantly adds to their life expectancy and benefits their general health and wellbeing. The most obvious perk of these routine surgeries is eliminating the risk of reproductive cancers (mammary, uterine, ovarian, testicular) that are dishearteningly common in unaltered rabbits. Studies have shown that intact female rabbits have as high of a 65% chance of developing uterine adenocarcinoma by the age of 4 years which is an extremely high risk for neoplasia in any species. Spayed or neutered rabbits also tend to be more friendly and affectionate toward their pet parents (as well as other pets in the home) and are generally easier to litter box train. Another huge benefit is curbing, or reducing, unwanted behaviors. While your intact rabbit may find dousing you with urine to be the highest form of flattery, most pet parents are not overly receptive to this particular expression of love. Spaying and neutering often eliminates your bunny’s deeply engrained desire to propagate by altering their hormonal response, which is a giant step to improving unwanted behaviors. Additionally, without the desire to constantly procreate, altered bunnies tend to be much easier to introduce (Bond) to one another and are free to live in coed colonies without the risk of contributing to the pet population.

What Age is Best for Having My Rabbit Spayed or Neutered?

When possible, it is preferable to spay or neuter your little one before health concerns or problem behaviors arise. The best way to ensure this is to have the surgeries completed when your bunny is still young. Technically, once a female reaches sexual maturity or a male’s testicles have descended (usually between 3 and 6 months of age), they can safely undergo their respective procedures. Depending on your rabbit’s size, breed, and current health, however, your veterinarian may feel it best to wait until your rabbit is a little bit older. This is yet another reason why routine visits with an exotics savvy veterinarian are so important.

But what about older bunnies? Just like humans, as animals age, anesthesia can become inherently riskier. Though opinions vary, most exotics veterinarians agree the benefits of the surgery often exceed the risks, even in older adult rabbits. It is important to remember, though, that older rabbits will need more extensive pre-surgical screening and may take longer to recover. If your rabbit has already reached their senior years (5 – 6+ years old), make sure to have a serious heart-to-heart with your veterinarian about whether the procedure is safe for your particular rabbit, and whether or not the surgery will still provide the intended benefits (increased longevity, decreased aggression/spraying/humping, etc).

Is it Safe to Have My Rabbit Spayed or Neutered?

Any time a veterinarian performs a surgery, regardless of species and procedure, the goal is always a quick and efficient operation, smooth recovery, little-to-no post-operative complications, and a healthy patient. The unfortunate reality is that all anesthetic procedures include risks, and occasionally patients are lost, even during routine surgeries. This should be a rare occurrence, however, as a knowledgeable veterinarian and their highly skilled team will have plans in place to safeguard against risks and efficiently address complications should they arise. Before scheduling the surgery, make sure your veterinarian is well-versed in rabbit surgery and post-operative care, understands the risks and benefits of the procedures themselves, and answers your questions (below) to your satisfaction. To find a rabbit-savvy vet near you, check out the following resources: or

What Questions Should I Ask?

  • How long have you been seeing exotics animals, specifically rabbits?
  • How many rabbits do you see in your office annually?
  • On average, how many spays/neuters do you perform on rabbits each year?
  • What is your success rate?
  • Have you ever lost a rabbit during surgery? If so, what was the cause?
  • Should my rabbit fast before surgery?
  • The answer to this should be an emphatic “no” because rabbits are unable to vomit or regurgitate, there is no need to withhold food or water before surgery. Doing so could cause your bunny to go into gastrointestinal stasis making the entire situation much riskier.
  • What are your anesthetic protocols?
  • What precautions and supportive measures do you have in place before, during, and after surgery?
  • Can you please describe the surgery?
  • What is your typical post-operative plan? Do you provide pain control medications or antibiotics? Do you suggest feeding a recovery diet (like Critical Care) after surgery?

How Are Spay/Neuter Procedures Performed on Rabbits?

Both spay and neuter surgeries will require your rabbit to be fully anesthetized. Anesthetized animals’ vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate/effort, blood pressure, temperature, and others) should be monitored closely by trained personnel throughout the entire procedure. A spay (ovariohysterectomy) is the procedure performed on females. For a veterinarian to properly and safely spay a rabbit, the hair is shaved from her abdomen, her skin is disinfected, and an incision is made through her abdominal wall. Blood vessels are tied off and her uterus and ovaries are removed before she receives several layers of sutures to close her up. To neuter (orchiectomy) a male is often a quicker procedure and therefore requires less time under anesthesia. After the hair has been removed from around your rabbit’s scrotum and the skin has been adequately disinfected, an incision is either made directly into the scrotum, or just before it, and the testes are tied-off and removed. The resulting incision can either be closed by the veterinarian or be left open to close on its own. It is important to remember that a male can store semen (sperm) in his body for up to 3 weeks after being neutered, so it is imperative to keep him away from any intact females during this time to avoid an unexpected litter.

Post-Operative Considerations

Most rabbits do very well after surgery and heal without incident, but it is incredibly important to watch them closely, monitor their incisions and make sure they are eating. As prey species, rabbits are hardwired to hide any signs of illness or pain, so it is your job as a dedicated pet parent to provide them with a safe, comfortable environment and carefully watch them as they heal. Watch for any signs, regardless of how subtle, that may indicate your kiddo needs additional support (decreased appetite, decreased water intake, abnormal fecal output, behavior changes, etc). Though each rabbit is different, many males will come home hungry and ready for a snack. Because females undergo a more extensive procedure, they may want to be left alone and do not cherish the thought of being handled or moved around for several days. Other than making sure your little lady has access to plenty of fresh grass-hay and fresh water, and administering her daily prescriptions or suggested supplemental diet, it is usually best to respect her wishes of solitude. If you notice your recently altered bunny licking, chewing, or scratching at their incision, reach out to your veterinarian for suggestions on how to limit the behavior so the surgical site does not break open. Pain medication is essential so make sure they are receiving the full amount of what your prescribed by your veterinarian.

It is also important to remember that spaying and neutering may not be an instantaneous fix, especially if the procedure is being done to address problem behaviors. Hormone levels can take a while to stabilize, so less than desirable behavior patterns may continue for several weeks to a couple of months after the procedure. If your furry friend was altered well after reaching sexual maturity, some dominant behaviors (hair pulling, humping, circling, etc.) may have become engrained so it is important to discuss especially worrisome concerns with your veterinarian prior to the surgery and establish appropriate expectations.

While spaying or neutering your rabbit is not the key to eternal life (most regrettably), it has been proven to significantly increase overall health and longevity. These surgeries also often have the added benefit of making your rabbit a more affectionate companion and reducing problem behaviors. Though every surgical procedure comes with a certain level of risk, as a dedicated and knowledgeable pet parent, you can help decrease the risks by choosing a rabbit-savvy veterinary team that can answer all your questions and has a high surgical success rate. The decision to have surgery performed certainly isn’t easy, and should never be taken lightly, but by knowing what to expect and advocating for your fur baby, you can help ensure your bunny experiences a smooth procedure and quick, comfortable recovery.

Link to main publication