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.
How long do rabbits live? Pet rabbits have a life expectancy of 8-12 years. This number will change a little 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!
How long do pet rabbits live?
On average, pet rabbits live to be 8-12 years old, 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, indoors or outside
- Whether the rabbit has been neutered or spayed
- Having a healthy diet and enough exercise
Indoor vs. outdoor
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 rabbits life expectancy falls to 3-5 years. Significantly less than that of an indoor rabbit.
Neutered vs. un-altered
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.
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.
Other factors that help a pet rabbit to live longer
The other factors that play a large role in a pet rabbit’s lifespan have to do with understanding rabbit care, and making sure your rabbit has a healthy, balanced life.
- Healthy diet: Rabbits should have a healthy diet consisting mostly of grass-based hay (such as timothy hay) and fresh leafy greens. Some treats and rabbit pellets are okay, but they should be kept to a minimum.
- Exercise: Rabbits need at least 1-2 hours of exercise every day, but more is better. 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.
- Company: Rabbits are social animals. They get lonely if they don’t have company. Make sure you include your rabbit as part of the family, like you would for a pet cat or dog. You can also try to bond your rabbit with another, since it is best if your rabbit can have another bunny for company.
- Regular vet check-ups: Rabbits should have annual check ups with a rabbit-savvy vet. This will help make sure your rabbit is in good health, and will help you catch any signs of health problems early.
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.
Life expectancy of different 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, very large and very small 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.
Rabbit Breeds and Their Life Expectancy
|American Fuzzy Lop||5-8||small|
|Blanc de Hotot||7-10||large|
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 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.