Many small animals that are kept as pets have a short expected lifespan. So it’s not surprising that many people expect rabbits to fall into the same bucket. But rabbits can actually live a long time. My oldest rabbit lived to be 13 years old! And multiple others in my rabbit family have lived to be 9-10 years. If you learn to take good care of your rabbit, they could be your companion for a long time.
Pet rabbits have a life expectancy of 8-12 years. This number will change depending on the breed of rabbit and the quality of care they receive. Wild rabbits have a much shorter life expectancy of only about 1-2 years.
There are many factors that influence the lifespan of a rabbit. You need to learn where to keep your rabbit, and make sure they have a healthy diet and lots of exercise. So if you want to help your pet live a long, happy and healthy life, read on!
- Related reading: 33 fun facts about rabbits
Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
How to Help Your Pet Rabbit Live Longer
The average lifespan of pet rabbits is about 8-12 years, but a rabbit is much more likely to reach their full life expectancy if they are loved and well cared for. Factors that affect the lifespan of a rabbit include:
- Where the rabbit is housed
- Whether the rabbit has been neutered or spayed
- Having a healthy diet and enough exercise
- The amount of fun or mental stimulation available to the rabbit
- How much socialization the rabbit receives
- Going for regular checkups with a small animal veterinarian
1. Indoor vs. outdoor living
Rabbits that are kept indoors tend to have a significantly longer lifespan than those that are kept outside. Outdoor rabbits are faced with much harsher living conditions. The summer heat can be a killer for rabbits with their heavy fur coats. Extreme cold in winter is dangerous and can give a rabbit hypothermia.
An outdoor rabbit will also be faced with many dangerous predators. From dogs and foxes to raccoons and hawks, rabbits have a lot to be afraid of outside. Sometimes these predators will manage to break into an outdoor hutch to get at a pet rabbit. But even if they don’t, the little rabbit will have to deal with the scary sights and smells. It’s very stressful for a bunny. And, like with humans, excessive stress can cause health problems and premature death in rabbits.
Outdoor rabbits are also more likely to come into contact with predators and bacteria from harmful diseases. They can get fleas and get ear mites. Or they can be bitten by ticks and mosquitoes that can spread some deadly rabbit diseases.
All of this put together, an outdoor rabbit’s life expectancy falls to about 5 years. Significantly less than that of an indoor rabbit. This isn’t to say you can never bring your rabbit outside, but full-time outdoor living typically has a negative outlook on a rabbit’s lifespan.
2. Spay or neuter your rabbit
Spayed and neutered rabbits live longer than their un-altered counterparts. Female rabbits in particular should always be spayed. There is an 80% chance a female rabbit will develop uterine or ovarian cancer by the age of 4 if they have not been spayed. Even male rabbits have a much higher chance of developing prostate cancer if they have not been neutered. It’s best to schedule the spaying or neutering procedure with your veterinarian as soon as your rabbit reaches sexual maturity at about 6 months old.
Getting a rabbit fixed also helps with some behavioral problems they have. They are less likely to be aggressive and will stop spraying around the house to claim their territory. To greatly increase the chances of having a healthy and long-lived pet rabbit, you should get them spayed or neutered as soon as they reach maturity.
3. Give your rabbit a healthy diet and exercise
A healthy diet and adequate space to live and exercise are the best indicators of a long lifespan for pet rabbits. They have a very sensitive gut and can easily go into GI Stasis (a life threatening condition) if there is something wrong with their gut.
To give your rabbit the best care, you want to make sure you give them a diet that is high in fiber. This means feeding them mainly grass-based hay (such as timothy hay). Fresh, leafy green vegetables are also high and fiber and 1-2 cups can be given to rabbits per day. Pellets should be kept to a minimum since rabbits with an endless supply of pellets will usually eat them instead of their hay. Learn more about the details of a healthy diet to give your rabbit a long lifespan.
Rabbits also need ample amounts of space to live and exercise. Their enclosure should be at least 3-4 times the size of the rabbit. I always recommend getting a pet playpen instead of a traditional rabbit cage because it gives so much more space (and it’s cheaper!).
In addition, rabbits need time to exercise outside of their enclosure every day to maintain their long term health (just like people!). If you can, try to give your rabbit exercise time in the morning or the evening. This is the time of day when rabbits are most active, and they’re more likely to take full advantage of their play hours. I advocate for treating rabbits like companion pets rather than cage animals. This means letting them out of their enclosure to wander the home and spend time with you. The only time you would need to keep them in the enclosure is when you’re away or cannot supervise them.
4. Prevent boredom
Rabbits are playful and social creatures. They need enough daily activities to maintain their happiness. Toys are also an important part of keeping your rabbit happy and healthy, but some rabbits are pretty picky about the toys they’ll play with. For this reason, it’s important to mention that any type of enrichment activity will do. This includes things like:
- Sprinkling herbs or greens around for your rabbit to forage
- Giving your rabbit environmental toys, such as a platformed cat tower, a blanket, or a tunnel
- Hiding treats around the room or in cardboard tubes
- Teaching your rabbit some tricks
- Giving your rabbit natural toys (such as willow balls, apple sticks, and hay toys)
- Creating digging areas where your rabbit can use their natural digging instincts
5. Socialize with your rabbit
Rabbits are a highly social species of animals. Without enough socialization and attention, they will quickly become lonely or even depressed. The best way to prevent depression is to make sure you spend time with your rabbit every day. Make it a habit to sit with your rabbit while you read or watch TV. You can also spend time with they by training your rabbit to do tricks or even sit on your lap.
If you don’t have much time to give to your rabbit, you can also give them the socialization they need by bringing home a second rabbit. However, rabbits who are suddenly put with a stranger rabbit can end up fighting, so you have to go through the stressful process of bonding rabbits before they will be able to live together.
- Find out more information about how to bond your rabbit with another rabbit.
6. Regular veterinary checkups
Just like other common house pets, rabbits should be brought to a veterinarian for regular annual checkups. This will help you catch any signs of specific health problems early, such as dental disease. You’ll be able to keep tabs on their teeth, weight, and overall health since two of the most common conditions for rabbits are overgrown teeth and obesity.
You’ll also be able to form a relationship with your veterinarian so if your rabbit gets sick, you can call their office for immediate advice. It’s important to make sure you see a veterinarian who is experienced with rabbits since their anatomy is different from cats and dogs. Check out the vet listings at House Rabbit Society to start with. If you’re still having trouble, try calling a veterinary clinic nearby and asking for their recommendation for a rabbit veterinarian in the area.
Life expectancy of different rabbit breeds
Like with dogs, the breed of rabbit also influences their life expectancy. Mixed breeds, in particular, tend to be more long-lived than pure bred rabbits.
Some breeds are healthier and tend to live longer than others, but it’s also important to remember that each rabbit is an individual. There is never a guarantee that your rabbit will live to a certain age, but they can also surpass all expectations.
Large, medium, and small rabbits
Large rabbits are bunnies that weigh in at around 8 pounds and greater. They tend to be gentler and have more puppy dog personalities. Medium rabbits weigh between 5 and 8 pounds, while small rabbits are less than 5 pounds. And, in my experience, tiny rabbits tend to have the spunkiest personalities.
In general, larger breeds and dwarf and rabbits have a shorter life expectancy than those in the middle. But size is not a direct correlation to life expectancy. The quality of care you give your rabbit is the best indicator of a long lifespan.
In addition, lop rabbits are more prone to health problems involving their teeth, weight, and ear infections. However, I’ve personally had a mini lop rabbit who lived to 13, so they can still live a long time.
Rabbit Breeds and Their Life Expectancy
|American Fuzzy Lop
|Blanc de Hotot
How old can rabbits get?
The average domestic rabbit lifespan is around 10 years, but there are some rabbits who defy this statistic and live much longer. Personally, I have had a rabbit who lived to 13, and I’ve heard stories of rabbit owners who had their pets reach a ripe age of 15.
The oldest rabbit who ever lived
The oldest rabbit on record was a rabbit named Flopsy who lived in Australia. This was a wild rabbit who was raised as a pet in captivity. Flopsy died in 1983 at a whopping 18 years and 10 months!
The oldest rabbit still living
As of 2019 the oldest rabbit still living is an agouti rabbit named Mick. This old guy lives in Illinois and he just turned 16 years old earlier this year. This sweet rabbit has survived some severe health problems and many bunny companions, but he’s still a happy bunny. Maybe he’ll give Flopsy some competition for the oldest rabbit ever.
How long do wild rabbits live
Wild rabbits are not protected like domestic rabbits are, so they have a much shorter life expectancy. They rarely live past 1-2 years. Wild rabbits are faced with many predators and diseases, like domestic rabbits that are kept outside, but they don’t even have the protection of a hutch to keep them safe. Wild rabbits also have to compete for resources. There is not always enough food to go around, so many, unfortunately, suffer from a lack of food and are unable to survive.
Diseases and predators
Wild rabbits are a major prey animal for hawks, snakes, and coyotes. But dogs, cats and raccoons are also predators in neighborhood settings. They are also more likely to come into contact with parasites that transmit diseases.
Wild rabbits in neighborhoods are sometimes poisoned by fertilizers and pesticides that people use on their lawns and gardens (sometimes purposefully, sometimes accidental). And in forested areas, rabbits are also hunted for meat by humans.
In most areas, rabbits will have enough food and resources to go around during the spring and summer months, but the scarcity of resources in the winter usually reduces the rabbit population significantly.
The extreme temperatures can also be difficult for rabbits to survive. Especially in climates where it gets very cold in the winter or very hot in the summer. Domestic rabbits are lucky enough to have indoor temperatures that never go to the extreme.
Wild rabbits are able to live much longer in captivity. In fact, the oldest rabbit ever was a wild Australian rabbit that was raised as a pet. Other wild rabbits that were raised in captivity have lived to 5-10 years old. I definitely don’t recommend trying to raise a wild rabbit as a pet, but this does go to show how much life conditions can alter the lifespan of a species.
How do I know if my rabbit is sick?
The first signs to look out for to know if your rabbit is sick, are whether or not your rabbit is eating and pooping. Rabbit’s have sensitive digestive systems that are easily disrupted when a rabbit doesn’t feel well.
Common rabbit diseases and medical problems include but are not limited to:
- GI stasis
- Overgrown teeth
- Uterine tumors
- Ear mites
- Urinary tract infections
- Ear infections
- Sore hocks
- Liver torsion
- “Breed Research.” PetGuide.com, www.petguide.com/rabbit-breeds
- Millward, Adam. “Meet Mick, the world’s oldest rabbit who is 16 years old.” Guinness World Records, Mar. 8, 2019, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2019/3/meet-mick-the-worlds-oldest-rabbit-who-is-16-years-old-563690
- “Oldest Rabbit Ever.” Guinness World Records, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/70887-oldest-rabbit-ever.
- “Uterine Cancer.” Wabbit Wiki, wabbitwiki.com/wiki/Uterine_cancer.
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Recommended Products and Brands
Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.
The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed