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Rabbits: A Long-Term Commitment

Spring is in the air, flowers are showing their first blossoms, and baby animals are popping up all over the place—including at the mall. This time of year, “pet” shops do big business in Easter bunnies, sending impulsive new rabbit guardians home woefully unprepared to care for these rambunctious, quirky, and high-maintenance animals. Adopting a rabbit is no smaller a commitment than bringing a puppy or kitten into your life. If you are considering adding a bunny member to your family, please read PETA’s “Caring for Rabbits” guide and make sure you don’t have any symptoms of “bunny fever.” Never buy a rabbit from a pet shop or breeder. Animal shelters and rabbit rescues are bursting at the seams with unwanted bunnies acquired hastily by people who did not realize that having a bunny takes a lot of time and effort!

For a sneak peek at what life with a bunny buddy is like and to make sure your family is ready for a rabbit, read these stories from PETA members who have shared their hearts and their homes with a curious cottontail:


Rabbits require much more care and attention than most people suspect. When I met my first one, Duffy, at a “pet” shop, the employees didn’t tell me how to take care of him, and I thought he would be an easy, cute addition to our living room. I quickly learned that he wanted to be out and about, following us around, playing, and being part of the family—not locked up in a boring cage. I taught him to use a litter box and come when we called him, and he liked to hop up on the sofa for a nap and play in a large wooden dollhouse I had built and decorated. Little did I know that rabbits are chewers—Duffy gnawed my tasty project to bits!


Although he started out as a “classroom pet,” we soon discovered that Velveteen was anything but an accessory for a science lesson. Our teeny-tiny bunny ballooned to an adult weight of nearly 10 pounds and developed the personality of a stand-up comic, the appetite of a truck driver, and the vengefulness of a shunned lover. With the addition of a baby gate, a flannel sheet, and my mom’s old bathrobe, our kitchen was converted into Velveteen’s living room. The pantry floor is now scattered with timothy hay, the desk alcove is a cozy place to flop on a padded doggy bed, and the rolling tea cart is a bunny balcony.


My little Max had a penchant for chewing baseboards—they were just the right height for him and they didn’t move, so he could really sink his teeth into them. I tried everything to discourage this (including rubbing the baseboards with hot sauce, which just made my whole apartment smell bad) and offered him many alternatives. Max also enjoyed digging around my sofa. I became a regular at the local hardware store, buying piece after piece of carpet remnant to put under the sofa to protect the actual carpet.


Rose knows exactly where we don’t want her to go and so, of course, that’s where she wants to go. She waits very casually until she thinks we aren’t looking, then quietly hops up into shelving units or squeezes under or behind the sofa—it’s amazing how bunnies can make themselves fit into spaces you’d never think they could. If she finds something blocking her way, she tries to dig or gnaw her way through it. Bunnies are so much fun and need lots of attention every day. Rose will come up and nudge at my ankles to say, “Hey, remember me? I’d like some attention, please.”

Make a Homeless Bunny Hoppy

If you’re ready for the 10-year (or more) commitment of rabbit guardianship, adopt a bunny from your local animal shelter or rescue group—you can start by looking up your zip code on

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  • AshuriDaisuke says:

    I bought my rabbits from pets at home as they were being badly treated and I fell for them as soon as I saw them. There was a dead rabbit in the pen with them, and as much as I didn’t want to support the breeder, I felt I had to give these little guys a good life, I named them Sherlock and Moriarty, sadly Mori passed from numerous medical conditions aged 9 months, but I hope I made his very short stay on this earth enjoyable and full of love, as for Sherlock, he now lives with my boyfriend’s rabbits, and is enjoying the company he lost when we lost Moriarty.

  • els says:

    The problem with breeding is simply this…no-one can predict the size of a litter therefore there will ,inevitably, be rabbits that breeders won’t want/be able to “use” . Some breeders claim that they are responsible breeders and they may well be in respect of looking after their animals but what about the ones they don’t want?? There are millions of unloved and unwanted rabbits in the world. Rabbit rescues do an amazing job but they are increasingly over burdened. In my opinion, it is irresponsible to add to that ever increasing problem.Rabbits take time and patience but they are the most amazingly loving and wonderful pets if we make the effort to understand what they need. My two rabbits enhance my life so much. I wish people would stop breeding rabbits and concentrate on getting the huge amount of rabbits in rescues into loving homes with owners who have done their homework BEFORE taking a rabbit on and who want an animal to love and care for not a plaything for the kids.

  • Rabbit lover says:

    Rabbits are a life time commitment and I believe should not be bought from a pet store. Before moving rabbits into a different pen the cage has to be sanitized with bleach. You should never buy a rabbit then buy another for the same cage. It leads to fighting. I will not sell rabbits over easter also. I have had rabbits for 10 years now and know how to treat almost any disease that may appear. I was very surprised when PETA made an appearance at a national rabbit show I attended. I wondered why they were there. I am doing something wrong? I raise some rabbits to show, each are well taken care of and loved. I am a germafobe when it comes to my rabbit barn. I volunteer weekly at an animal shelter and am against animal abuse. Why is showing a rabbit so bad?

  • rr says:

    bunnies live longer than we think!

  • Marina says:

    I agree with “Bunny Mom of Three”—where’s the “caring for rabbits” page on the PETA website? Seems like there are way more people with companion rabbits than companion ferrets. Please consider giving rabbits the same “Caring” section that you provided for all other companion animals!

  • scott says:

    hey eepers, that go’s for you too, i have alot of answers for you…just call though, i am terrible at typing…
    scott, bunny barn rescue, nj we work with the winslow twp. animal control here also as, no-one, has a clue about bunnys!!!!!
    what a shame, even the rescues are usually meaning well but, are not qualified to care for them……..
    we are here for anyone for, any reason 24/7 !!! thats right, if you have a sick bunny, you better call us @ 3 am or we will be upset you didn’t call sooner !!
    we are totally dedicated to the care and education of rabbits and their owners……scott

  • scott says:

    hey lacy, i have a bunny shelter in nj, if you want to no more or, maybe save that poor bun, i will help as much as i can…scott 

  • eepers says:

    i have a rex named hershey. i just got her around mid october. the is very soft but she is alsoo verry fast. i am 12 this is my first bunny and i wondered if anyone had any tips. we let her run around our living room but she always poops on the floor. i dont know how old she is but she is not litter trainrd. i have gone to take her out of her cage ang she grunts, lunges, and tries to bite me. am i dooing something wrong? any suggestians?

  • Meg says:

    Like Bunny Mom of Three said, thanks for the article! I have my two little Harlequins, Pippa & Diego, & their adopted Lionhead brother Thumper. I adore them-they’re so sweet, intelligent, cheeky (!), and curious, and they all definately have individual personalities & habits. I think that’s why they are so difficult to care for-they won’t just sit there & do what you want-but they’re definitely worth the extra bit of work!

  • Ashleigh says:

    Hey Lacy, so rabbits can’t be released into the wild because they just aren’t used to it. They wouldn’t know what to do. I believe I read somewhere that they usually live for less than a day because of temperature, plants, predators, cars, etc. The fact that people have bred them to look different (compare a little cottontail to a rex or to a Jersery wooly, etc.) we’ve just altered and changed them so much.
    They’ve never had to dig a burrow, or learn what plants were dangerous, all things wild rabbits learn young.
    Lastly (I could go on, and on and on about rabbits) outdoor rabbits (poor things) are stuck in a cage. If it’s hot, they’re stuck. If it’s cold, they’re stuck. If a dog comes to eat them, they’re stuck.
    Being domesticated like horses, dogs, cats.. has changed them so that they will always have to depend on us to take care of them.

  • lacy says:

    I just found a bunny in my local shelter yesterday and I wanted to know how difficult they were to care for before suggesting to my friends to adopt it. I was also curious as to why a rabbit wasn’t just released in the wild, but then I thought it was probably just like a housecat and they don’t know how to protect themselves at all after living with humans. Then I read that they’re sensitive to temperature, and that was strange because bunnies haven’t always been an indoor animal, they came from somewhere in the wild. What has been done to bunnies that makes them not able to live outside?

  • Bunny Mom of Three says:

    I really appreciate how you’ve approached rabbits as companion animals; they are a lot of hard work and take lots of dedication!

    That being said, I wish that PETA would include with these words of precaution, a caring for rabbits section. Otherwise, it diminishes the value of having a rabbit as a pet.

    Without my companion rabbits, I would never have become a vegetarian!

    Please consider giving rabbits the same “Caring” section that you provided for all other companion animals!

  • Celeste says:

    i have a lop breed with long floppy ears! she loves to snuggle and has a serious attitude problem lol :))

  • Bunny Mom in California says:

    I quickly learned with my first bunny Beau, a Mini Lop, that rabbits require a *ton* more work, attention, and care than cats and dogs. They have delicate digestive systems, very specific dietary requirements, and need specialized vets for their care. And because of their natural chewing and digging tendencies, they must be supervised at ALL TIMES when out of their pens. They’re also very sensitive to temperature, so keeping them outdoors isn’t a good option. Plus, they’re very social creatures, and prefer to be part of the family. Bunnies are absolutely *wonderful* animal companions, but they’re most certainly NOT the kind to get on a whim . . . they’re delightful and fun, but they each have their own personality, can be temperamental or destructive, and require an enormous amount of daily care and attention. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything, but again, it’s a major commitment. And they’re not necessarily good companions for children. Still, they are smart, funny, and can be the most charming furry child you’ll ever have. Rabbits are perfectly persnickety, and I adore mine. 🙂