Rabbit care: how to take care of your fluffy pet (and can it really eat carrots?)

  • Rabbits are social and curious animals that make fantastic companions, but contrary to popular belief, they are not an ‘easy’ first pet
  • Check out this guide to find out how to keep your pet bunny happy and healthy
Tribune News Service |

Latest Articles

Top 10: What habits did you grow out of as you got older?

Check out this guide to find out how to keep your fluffy companion happy and healthy. Photo: Shutterstock

Not including fish, rabbits are the third most popular pet in the United States behind dogs and cats.

Although people have generally believed rabbits are “low maintenance” pets, rabbits require a specific diet and daily exercise to ensure they are healthy and live a long happy life, explains Fetch by WebMD, a portal for pet owners.

If you are a new pet owner or have owned a rabbit for years, there are multiple ways you can ensure that your pet can live their life to the fullest, starting with their diet and daily routine.

7 things your pet rabbit does and what they mean

How long do rabbits live as pets?

Most domestic rabbits can live for eight years or even up to 12 years, according to Fetch by WebMD. Unlike wild rabbits, who face risk factors including predators and stress in the wild, domestic rabbits have safe places to hide and a constant supply of food.

According to Fetch by WebMD, similar to dogs, different breeds of rabbits have different lifespans. Generally, larger rabbit breeds have shorter lifespans than dwarf breeds, and purebred rabbits have shorter lifespans than mixed breed rabbits. There are exceptions, however, and each rabbit is different. How you take care of your rabbit will play a bigger role in how long it lives rather than its genetics.

Domestic rabbits usually live between 8 and 12 years, in contrast to wild rabbits, which may only live a few years while larger breeds often have a shorter lifespan than smaller rabbits. Photo: Shutterstock

What should I feed my pet rabbit?

Making sure your pet rabbit has a healthy diet is an important way to ensure it lives a long happy life. Rabbits need a specific diet to keep them healthy otherwise your pet can become ill or develop stress, according to Fetch my WebMD.

Your rabbit’s daily diet should consist mostly of hay, a smaller amount of vegetables and a small amount of pellets, says VCA Animal Hospitals. High-quality grass hay is the most important part of your rabbit’s diet and should make up most of your rabbit’s daily intake. Grass hay, which is high in fibre, keeps your pet bunny’s digestive tract healthy.

Young rabbits can have any type of grassy hay, but alfalfa hay should not be given to adult rabbits because of its high calcium and protein levels.

What’s going on in my dog’s head? Ways to tell what your pet is thinking

Can rabbits eat carrots?

Although you may be tempted to feed your rabbit carrots, you may want to reconsider or limit their supply. Too many could be bad for your rabbit.

According to the RSPCA, carrots should not be the main source of food for rabbits. Rabbits do not naturally eat fruit or root vegetables like carrots, so they should not make up most of their diet. Carrots are also high in sugar, so they should only be used as an occasional treat.

Rather than carrots, good quality grass hay should make up the bulk of your pet rabbit’s diet. Photo: Shutterstock

How can I keep my pet rabbit healthy?

In addition to a healthy diet, your pet bunny will also need plenty of exercise. If you use a cage for your rabbit, make sure it’s a large one with plenty of room for them to move around. Also be prepared to budget time each day your rabbit can spend outside its cage in a room that is safe for them to roam freely, according to Fetch by WebMD.

This allows your pet to exercise, stretch its legs and play. If your rabbit does not get exercise it can cause obesity and heart problems that shorten its lifespan.

According to Fetch by WebMD, other ways to care for your rabbit include cleaning their cages every week and removing faeces or soiled bedding daily, taking your pet to a small-animal veterinarian and getting your rabbit treatment if it suffers from any illness. You also want to get your rabbit spayed or neutered to ensure it remains healthy.

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy