How long a pet rabbit lives depends on several factors. A rabbit’s overall care plays an essential role in how long domestic rabbits live. Care needs to include a well-balanced diet, grass hay with the right mix of vegetables, exercise, reproductive status, and veterinary care.
Rabbits can make great pets. When taught how to properly and safely handle them, they are soft, lovable animals who can make excellent pets for children.
However, bunnies do require a moderate amount of care and proper feeding. Knowledge about their daily needs, adequate handling, exercise, and mental stimulation is critical to ensure they lead healthy, long-lasting lives.
If you are considering a pet rabbit, knowing how long they live and some of the care needed to give them excellent quality of life may be important.
So, let’s dive into how long pet rabbits live.
What is the average lifespan of a rabbit?
So, how long do pet rabbits live? According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest pet rabbit to date hails from Berwyn, Illinois. The record holder, Mick, an Agouti rabbit, turned 16 on February 9, 2019. While Flopsy, the oldest wild rabbit in the record books, hailed from Australia in the 1960s. He lived to the ripe old age of 18.1
Rabbit health and lifespan
Generally speaking, the average spayed or neutered domestic rabbit lives 6 to 13 years. But when answering how long bunnies live, we need to discuss several factors that affect their lifespan.
Breed and size
As we see with small breed dogs vs. large breed dogs, size matters.
For domestic rabbits, smaller breeds have longer lifespans, while larger breeds live shorter lives. Thus, dwarf rabbits will have the longest overall lifespan while giant breeds, have the shortest.
Additionally, certain breeds are prone to specific health problems, potentially shortening their lifespan. For example, some dwarf breeds have shortened noses (like smushy-faced dog breeds such as the pug). This makes them more susceptible to tear duct blockage issues and dental disease. Other breeds have an increased risk of cancers, such as the Dutch rabbit, while giant breeds are at risk of heart disease and arthritis.
Rabbits’ Average Lifespans By Size
In general, rabbits live 5+ years
Learn more about all the different types of rabbits used for pets.
Dwarf breeds: Longest lifespan 7-14 years
Dwarf rabbits range from 1.5 to about 5 pounds
Standard breeds: 6-10 years
Standard breeds range from 5+ to 12 pounds
- Belgian Hare
Giant breeds: 5-8 years generally
Giant breeds range from about 11-20+ pounds
- Flemish Giant
- Continental Giant
- Checkered Giant
- German Giants
- British Giants
- Red (Belgian Giants)
Looking for a great rabbit name? Visit our list to find your pet bunny’s name!
Indoor vs. outdoor housing
Where your rabbit is housed plays a role in overall health and lifespan.
Rabbits are susceptible to temperature changes and don’t tolerate heat very well. Additionally, there are inherent risks with living outdoors, including predators such as hawks, foxes, coyotes, and others, depending on where you live.
Finally, parasites in the environment can lead to infection, illness, and a shortened lifespan. However, living outside provides a wealth of nutrition and the most ‘natural’ of diets for them. Grazing on the grass outside can provide mental enrichment, help with teeth health, and (if they don’t get parasites) can help their gut stay healthy. Even if kept 100% outside, they will need additional food and your help to fully balance their diet.
Indoor rabbits do generally live longer lives than those living outdoors. Indoor-housed pet rabbits are less vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, infectious diseases, or predators.
Learn more about the best rabbit hutches for indoor and outdoor.
Providing exercise and enrichment
The amount of exercise, mental enrichment, proper diet, and genetics play critical roles in how long your pet rabbit will live.
Exercise is a must! This can be provided by allowing free roam in a rabbit-safe zone in your home. Or, it can be provided in a safe outdoor enclosure such as a covered pen or hutch safe from predators. Allowing them to stretch their legs, sniff, explore, and engage with their environment helps them maintain overall health, especially keeping their gut healthy.
Spaying and neutering
Rabbits are very prone to cancers – the uterus in females and the testicles of males. Additionally, we can see aggressive behavior and other issues associated with rabbits who are not spayed or neutered.
Veterinarians recommend these procedures before your rabbit reaches sexual maturity (4-8 months of age, depending on the breed and small vs. large breeds). By doing so, you can minimize the risk of scent marking and prevent or minimize aggressive behaviors. Finally, in addition to avoiding cancers of the reproductive tract, you can, of course, avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Will what I feed my rabbit affect its lifespan?
Simply put, yes.
What you feed your pet rabbit is of the utmost importance to overall rabbit health and critical for their GI tracts to function correctly. Rabbits are great at eating, eating, reproducing, and eating.
They eat throughout most of the day and need to graze on grass hays, ideally grass hays, such as timothy hay. They need fresh greens and a variety to help ensure proper nutrition. Their digestive systems are complex. The right diet plays a crucial role in how long your rabbit will live.
The majority of illnesses veterinarians see in pet rabbits are secondary to poor diet and other factors associated with their environment. The food your rabbit eats has a huge impact on how long pet rabbits live.
So, what is the best way to ensure your rabbit will live a long, happy life?
Always provide constant access to good quality hay, daily fresh greens, and a small serving of fruit periodically. Do not feed sugary treats, especially commercially prepared rabbit treats. Avoid high-fatty foods and starches such as beans, bread, cereals, or seeds.
Finally, make sure fresh water is always readily available
Learn more about the best hay for rabbits.
What role does veterinary care play in your rabbit’s well-being?
By observing the essential factors of living environment and diet, you can help prolong the lifespan of your rabbit. However, by providing annual veterinary care visits, you can further ensure your animal’s health. By seeing your veterinarian every year, you make sure that problems do not creep up on you. Rabbits do not show illness until they are very sick. So, catching teeth problems or heart disease before showing signs is vital to help ensure a long life for your pet.
So, how long do pet rabbits live?
That really depends on you and your family! The care you provide, the foods you select, the activity, and the mental stimulation you offer all play a role in how long your rabbit may live.
If you own a rabbit please leave a comment with how old your pet rabbit is or how long your pet rabbit lived.
Erica Tramuta-Drobnis, VMD, MPH, CPH, is a veterinarian, freelance writer, and public health professional. She is the founder and CEO of ELTD One Health Consulting, LLC. Her veterinary clinical experiences span over 22 years. These experiences include general practice, a keen interest in veterinary nutrition, pain management and prevention, emergency and critical care, and exotic animal medicine, including rabbits, ferrets, rodents, reptiles, and more.
She received her Master’s in Public Health in 2019 and became Certified in Public Health in February 2020. She has a keen interest in the One Health concept of public health and a multi-disciplinary approach to human health, animal health, and environmental issues. She currently works part-time in emergency and critical care while also writing and consulting on various topics, hoping to establish her niche in a One Health world. The human-animal bond plays a significant role in many people’s lives. Dr. Tramuta-Drobnis hopes to help rabbit owners improve their husbandry (environment, nutrition, and overall pet care). By doing so, she hopes to help strengthen this bond and enhance the well-being of both pet and parent.
Learn more about her: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eltdonehealthconsultingllc/