There’s no doubt that pets can be expensive. I have owned my fair share of indoor pets over the years, and have also paid the numerous expenses associated with them. Owning a cat or a dog can can mean paying for pet deposits, veterinary costs, toys, and endless amounts of food. Of course, the reward of companionship is worthwhile, or at least it’s supposed to be.
Aside from the ubiquitous “cat or dog?” decision that most people make when choosing a pet, there is another option that many people do not consider: the lovable and inexpensive “house” rabbit.
(Aww, aren’t I cute?)
I’m actually allergic to cats, and my wife doesn’t like dogs, so when we decided to get a pet last year, we had to search outside the mainstream choices. While fish, hamsters, and birds can make perfectly fine pets, we wanted something more personable and, well… bigger.
We decided on a pet rabbit, and upon visiting our local Humane Society, we were pleased to learn that the rabbit is also one of the least expensive pets they offer ($15). Here’s the little guy we brought home:
He’s a curious little fellow with tons of energy and personality. Here he is frolicking on our couch (if you’re reading in an RSS reader, you may need to click through):
Why do I say the rabbit is Nature’s Economical Pet? Let’s take a look at the costs involved. Of course, prices may fluctuate depending on where you live.
As I mentioned, the adoption fee was only $15. Before we picked out a rabbit, we did some research on cages, and we discovered that the cage is usually the most expensive part of owning a pet rabbit.
If you buy a pre-built cage, you can spend anywhere from $30-300, depending on size and build quality. Owning a rabbit is supposed to be CHEAP, so we rejected the idea of spending a lot of money on a cage. On Craigslist, I found a couple of cages that people were giving away for free, but they were too small (they were meant for breeding rabbits, not as a place for a rabbit to live).
Ultimately, we decided to build our own rabbit cage, which was FAR easier than I suspected. All you need is a box or two of wire cubes (the kind you can use to build small storage containers), some plastic zip-ties, and a piece of wood or paneling for a floor. We built a large, two story cage for our furry friend all for about $25.
Rabbit food is cheap. My wife and I eat vegetarian food most of the time, and fortunately, the rabbit is also Nature’s Vegan. He will happily munch on our excess lettuce, cilantro, celery, carrots, and most of the other veggies in the fridge.
His staple food is Timothy hay, a large bag of which can last quite a long time. We also supplement his diet with pellets (also cheap).
Oh, our rabbit’s favorite food by far – banana. If anyone opens a banana within a 10-mile radius, our bunny does this:
Having a rabbit is a bit like having a two-year old kid: household items that he can reach will end up in his mouth. They love things like paper bags, boxes, plastic slinkies, paper towel rolls, and untreated wicker.
Give a rabbit an extra phone book and he’ll entertain himself (and you) for hours. Just be prepared to clean up the shredded pages later.
Rabbits should be neutered/spayed. After all, female rabbits are capable of producing a new litter of babies every month! It cost us $65 to have our poor rabbit neutered, though it’s a little more expensive procedure to have a female rabbit fixed.
There are currently NO vaccines that rabbits need, so rabbit owners, rejoice! You don’t need to take them to the vet every 6-12 months for shots.
Again, this is what we paid for our furry little friend. Your prices may vary.
- Adoption fee: $15
- Neutering: $65
- Cage (self-built): $25
- Bag of Hay (48 oz – can last months): $7
- Large Bag of Food Pellets (can last six months or more): $6
- Bag of Litter (yes, rabbits can be litter box trained!): $3
Owning a house rabbit is a lot of fun, and it’s typically much less expensive than owning a dog or cat. The one caveat is that rabbits like to chew on things like wicker furniture and electric cables, so certain rooms (like the “computer” room) are off limits. For the rooms in which he is allowed, we covered all the electric cables with plastic aquarium tubing to keep him from killing himself.
My wife and I enjoy having a pet, and a house rabbit works well for us without costing too many dollars (though I’m sure our rabbit would eat a dollar bill if he had a chance!)