February 28, 2011 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about having a pet rabbit.

For a while now, I've thought about getting a pet rabbit; unfortunately, I don't personally know anybody who has one, and the information available on the Internet seems pretty trite (at best.) So, I figured I'd ask here: rabbit owners, please tell me about it.

Some specific questions:

1) My job requires me to work 12 hour shifts (which can easily become 14 or 15 hours). Is this going to be a problem? How independent are rabbits as pets? Will my rabbit get lonely?

2) There seems to be mixed information on whether or not rabbits do, in fact, smell bad. The consensus seems to be that while the rabbits themselves may not smell bad (maybe) they do have strong-smelling urine. I live in a large apartment, but it is still an apartment, and a strong, persistent smell of urine would be a deal breaker.

3) I know these things are hard to gauge, but I'm curious as to how much it costs to keep a rabbit as a pet --- weekly costs of food, bedding, etc. Let's also assume an annual vet visit as well.

4) I'm also curious about how rabbits are as pets --- whether they are affectionate and like playing with their owners, or whether they tend to run off in the corner and do their own thing.

Some background info on my living situation: I am late 20s, live by myself in a large apartment with several rooms, one of which could potentially become the rabbit's.

What do you think --- would a rabbit be a good match for me?
posted by Tiresias to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My experience with pet rabbits is limited to two particular animals, neither kept in enclosed buildings. As such, my insight is limited (but perhaps of some use):

1) they can scream like an injured child, which might frighten your neighbors if they don't know you have a rabbit. My friend's rabbit was not fond of being walked on a leash - I don't think we were actually harming the rabbit, but maybe we were.

2) you should not leave them in the sun for long periods of time. Seems obvious, but if you put it in a cage near a window, make sure you provide some shade. My sister's rabbit expired in the summer, when it was kept in a large cage outside.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:33 PM on February 28, 2011

I don't own a rabbit but my good friend does. Her rabbit is free roaming in her apartment and she has a cage which is kept open as well if the rabbit decides to go rest in it. The rabbit is also housebroken - she has a cat litter box that she set up for it and the rabbit only goes there.

I would definitely recommend to do this if you get a rabbit, my friend's rabbit is never in its cage (unless it chooses to be) and having it housebroken means that my friend can leave the rabbit to roam the apartment when she's not there. I do hear a lot of stories about the rabbit chewing on pretty much everything that it can find - my friend leaves a lot of cardboard around for the rabbit to chew on so it doesn't chew wires, etc.
posted by carmel at 4:42 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1. A schedule like that should be fine for a rabbit so long as the rabbit gets adequate play time, has a space to hang out in that's three times the length of their body stretched out, and even better --- if the rabbit has a friend. Two rabbits are not any more difficult than one rabbit, especially if the couple is already bonded.

2. The urine does smell bad, in my experience of having owned four rabbits in the past 10 years. The smell is mitigated by a proper litterbox with proper litter. We use wood stove pellets for our litter and hay (rabbits MUST have hay, so if you have any hay allergies, no rabbit for you). Any litter that is not cat litter that is absorbent will help with the smell along with proper cleaning of the litterboxes.

4. Vet visits are EXPENSIVE for rabbits compared to cats and dogs because you need to find a good vet who has experience with rabbits. A visit for us usually costs around $65 for the two rabbits, and medicines will be far more expensive because rabbits can take what is often given to cats and dogs. We probably spend around $60 - $70/month on hay and pellets for the bunnies plus whatever we spend on their greens. But we have two rabbits and always buy the 9 lb bags of hay instead of the smaller options --- same with the pellets. We also use Oxbow, which is a more expensive brand of items but one of the absolute best ones out there for rabbits.

5. What do I think? I think you will definitely want to do some more research over at the House Rabbit Network. Read up on the FAQs. Call their warm line and talk to a volunteer. Ask as many questions as you have, and only, only, only get a rabbit when you know that you will be a good owner. I do, however, think you are headed in the right direction to rabbit ownership.

In response to the above comment: Rabbits ONLY scream like that if they are in immediate fear of their life. If a rabbit is screaming, then something is SEROIUSLY wrong. A rabbit screaming is a sign that the rabbit is in or is perceiving to be in a life or death situation. In 11 months of rabbit ownership, I only had a rabbit scream like that once, and it was very much warranted.

Rabbits should ALWAYS be kept inside, and as their body temperature rises far more quickly than that of many other animals and is already at a higher average than other animals, it is necessary to make sure that the area they are in is appropriately heated or cooled as warranted by the environmental conditions around it.

I and dr.enormous would be more than happy to answer any further questions about rabbits as you work through this decision. Feel free to MeMail either of us at any time.
posted by zizzle at 4:44 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

My mom is a teacher and had a rabbit, Smokey, for a few years as a class pet. Ugh. That thing.

First of all, he was supposed to be a dwarf rabbit. The guy at the pet store (yeah, yeah, we should have gotten a rabbit from a reputable breeder but we didn't know any better) swore up and down it wouldn't get bigger than a couple pounds, but either the thing was mislabeled or had a pituitary problem or something because that sucker got huge. Like, house cat huge. Which wasn't very good for cuddling with 9 year olds.

Also, he was really angsty. When we let him run around outside of his cage he'd head straight for the corners of the room or under furniture (where he'd poop up a storm, more on that later) and act all sullen and lonely. But if you tried to pet him or pick him up he'd get really kicky and scratchy. My little brother was the only one who really successfully bonded with him, but even still he was the victim of angry bunny kicks whenever he looked at Smokey crosseyed.

I don't ever recall there being a problem with pee smells, but oh my god the poop. Smokey was a little turd machine. He wouldn't ever poop in the specifically-for-pooping-in place in his cage, and would actually stick his little butt up against the cage grating so he could project the poops onto the floor outside. And when he was let out of his cage (which was most of the time) he would do his damnedest to poop in every conceivable hiding place the room had to offer. That's what really struck me the most. I was pretty young when we had him, but oh god do I remember the poop.

We had a little bunny leash so the kids in her class could walk him around the playground during recess. He seemed to enjoy this a lot. And then one day, the bastard chewed, clawed, and kicked through his leash in a furry little fit of bunny rage and ran away. No one, not even my mom's students who got to enjoy all of the perks of the rabbit without any of the work, missed him.

That said, I know that there are people out there who are really in love with their rabbit(s), so don't let what I have to say keep you from what may be a wonderful life with your soon-to-be bunny. But know that this is what it's like when it all goes wrong.
posted by phunniemee at 4:46 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Rabbits aren't for everyone, but they make awesome pets if you don't mind doing some work to make your home rabbit-friendly. Spaying/neutering makes a HUGE difference in whether or not a rabbit can live indoors -- some don't use a litterbox well if they're not s/n, and there can also be other behavioral issues that s/n can amerliorate. The House Rabbit Society is one good place to start, though I prefer Rabbit References for specific issues. (Check out the first few links on the Rab Refs page which should answer your question pretty well.)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:46 PM on February 28, 2011

PS: I can't go into a detailed answer right now cuz I'm at work, but I've lived with a lot of rabbits and rescued/fostered many more over the years and can answer any specific questions or concerns you have, feel free to memail me.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2011

Best answer: I don't have one right now, but I've kept pet rabbits for years - so here's my 2 cents:

1) Keeping a rabbit alone, whether you'll be at home or not, does not seem like a good idea to me. I've always had 2 rabbits - usually male and female, and they were extremely close/social creatures, "kissing" and cuddling all the time. I think they would be definitely very unhappy alone. (Obviously, you need to get them neutered if you plan on having a male and a female. Two males do not get along, two females sometimes do.) Having two of them is not really more work though, in my experience. And definitely more fun.

2) This depends on the urinary habits your rabbit develops, and on your cleaning routines. Some rabbits learn to only use a "potty" place. Others don't. Males can be prone to spraying everywhere and if you're unlucky, they never stop. The smell, however, is not too bad (not like cat urine at all!). I've always rather liked the smell, I mean at least compared to other "animal urine" smells. YMMV.

3) Depends on circumstances. When I had a big back yard, I could basically get all the supplies from there (hay, clover, dandelions and twigs for them to gnaw on). If you're a city-dweller, you have to buy everything. Yearly check-ups seem exaggerated to me - I only went to the vet with them for having them neutered, and then when there were problems, and that was (sadly) always only for putting them down at the end of a long life, when they had developed conditions that could not be treated (cancer). If you keep the rabbit inside, vaccinations are not necessary AFAIK (as opposed to cats/dogs).

4) Depends completely on the rabbit. Some are extremely affectionate, others stay shy and never get used to getting touched/handled. (This obviously also depends on where you get it from - a young rabbit from a good breeder might be a good bet, an older rabbit from the pet shop not so much. Worst bet: Adult rabbit from shelter that may have experienced neglect or mishandling). Lots of rabbits seem to end up at shelters because owners are disappointed when they do not become as tame as they had envisioned. If you insist on having a pet that is really close with you (like a cat or dog), maybe a rabbit is not the right pet for you. If you like watching ridiculously cute animals, and stroking their fur from time to time when they feel like it...then rabbits are perfect for you!
posted by The Toad at 4:50 PM on February 28, 2011

We had a rabbit for a while. I won't repeat what others have said, but be warned: they will chew on everything. Shoes - especially the tips of your shoelaces. Chair legs. And especially electrical wires. I had to re-wire a few lamps after the rabbit chewed through the electrical cords.

So just be aware of this. They will chew your cords into oblivion. Fine pets otherwise.
posted by GuyZero at 4:53 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

1) They need a good amount of space, either via a good sized pen or a decent amount of time out and about. This is certainly doable with any schedule, as long as you have some amount of space. They need something to keep them entertained. Depending on the bun, toys can work, but a companion is often a good choice (so long as they're bonded and fixed).

2) You will smell it when they pee, but then it will go away as it's absorbed. As long as you clean, you'll mostly smell the hay.

3) Good food and hay (Oxbow is one of the best) run about $9 for each medium-sized bag. Our two buns go through a bag of hay in a week and a half or so, pellets in 2 weeks or so. If you buy wood stove pellets, litter is cheap (less than $5 for a huge bag). Otherwise, you have to shell out a little more for Yesterday's News (clay and most wood chip litters are bad for buns). Vets are pricey, but only somewhat more than other animals.

4) Two current bunnies: one is semi-aggressive, one is a total scaredy-cat (we took them because they were hard placements for the shelter). Neither wants lots of attention, but they appreciate some interaction. Late bunny number three: total attention whore who followed me around the house, flopped down for pets, and begged for treats. Find a bun who suits you.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2011

Oh yeah:

3) A variety of greens every day (though there are some they shouldn't have too much of). Not too expensive if you buy stuff that comes in big bunches; maybe an extra $3-5 per grocery run.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 5:06 PM on February 28, 2011

You have already gotten a lot of good answers from people with far more recent rabbit experience than me, but I wanted to add something you might not have thought about. Before you get one, make sure you are not allergic to rabbits. I have known more than one person who has absolutely no cat or dog allergies but ends up being horribly allergic to rabbits. If you get a rabbit from a reputable breeder, they should be happy to let you spend some time with the bunnies first to check for any unexpected allergies.
posted by horses, of courses at 5:18 PM on February 28, 2011

Have a look at Bob Tarte's Enslaved by Ducks for a lot of funny information about the highs and lows of rabbits as pets -- or listen to him talk about them on his What Were You Thinking? podcast (1, 2).
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 5:25 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to have pet rabbits. They are incredibly, ridiculously cute and if you do your homework can be really great pets. Responsibility wise, I think they're about on par with cats. To answer your questions:

1) If you are going to be away for more than a couple hours at a time, please litter train your rabbit (it's not hard) and rabbit-proof your home so that you can give bunny the run of the house (or at least a few rooms). They do not do well locked up in a cage, especially those criminally small ones sold at pet stores.

2) Bunnies themselves smell fine. Their pee can be strong. Daily litterbox scoopings - yes, they are poop machines - with some Nature's Miracle litter treatment are a good idea. Spaying or neutering helps.

3) We probably spent $50 per month on the super-nice rabbit food, hay, litter, veggies, etc. for the bunnies. YMMV. Vet bills are expensive if your rabbit gets sick. Find out in advance whether you have a reputable exotics vet in your area who treats rabbits.

4) It depends on the bunny, as they each have their own personality. Rabbits can be sort of aloof (again, like cats) but affectionate and cuddly on their own terms. Most rabbits hate being picked up (this is why they make terrible pets for children), so don't expect that. Mine used to hop up on the couch and snuggle when we were watching movies though. It was pretty awesome.

The house rabbit society website linked upthread is a good resource. This site is a really good resource for getting a handle on rabbit personalities. This page is a very comprehensive resource for just about anything house rabbit-related.

If you do get a rabbit, please please adopt from a shelter or a rescue group. There are so many rabbits out there in need of good homes, and supporting pet stores who sell animals makes the problem worse. Also, if you go with a rescue group, they can be a great resource if you have questions or need a vet referral.

Also (this is kind of my personal thing) you are likely to come across in your research recommendations against using clay litters for your rabbit because the dust can give them respiratory problems. Please heed them. My first rabbit's previous owner used clay cat litter for him. He eventually died from inoperable abscesses on his lungs - it was heartbreaking to go through. Towards the end he was basically suffocating. He was the coolest little bunny and didn't deserve that.
posted by AV at 5:48 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

My experience with a pet rabbit ended up pretty sad. He was an impulse buy from a pet store when I was in college (stupid, but he was sooooo super cute.) I litter-trained him but it's not like a cat - he kind of hopped all over and pooped at the same time and there were always lots of rabbit turds all over the place. And yes, their urine smells strong; I lived in a studio and a one-bedroom with him and I think both places smelled bad.
I hate an animal in a cage so I made him a big enclosure in my apartment using a wire pen (like the kind used for puppies.) I would have let him run around everywhere except for the part where he chewed EVERYTHING, CONSTANTLY. Like, the carpet, wires, paper, books, shoes, EVERYTHING. He actually like pulled the carpet fibers out of the floor with his teeth. I was always really scared he was going to chew through a big powerful cord like the refrigerator and die.
I had him for 2 years and I literally could never hold him, he was super skittish and ran away when you came near him. Eventually my mom gave him to a friend of hers who lives on a farm (She says this farm actually exists and is not a euphemism for having killed him.) Moral: don't get a pet rabbit. Get a cat instead.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 5:51 PM on February 28, 2011

I have two rabbits and love them. I do not smell the pee; I think the litter I use absorbs the odor. As above, you mostly smell hay.

I keep mine in the kitchen (in cages). I did initially try "rabbit-proofing" but I just have Too Many Wires and one cable modem and one severely-chewed bottom of the sofa later I moved them. Now I block off the kitchen exits and let them roam in there sometimes. Since it's just tile, there's nothing much to damage and if they do pee out of the cage (very very rare) it's easy clean-up.

They are social and friendly and enjoy being petted, but they don't like being picked up. There is the rare rabbit that likes being held but most don't. Overall, I recommend them as long as you are careful with wires and accept that they can die suddenly (hasn't happened to me, thankfully, but it definitely does happen.) Every week when I go to the store I buy 14 bunches of various parsley and greens for 69 cents each. I keep waiting for someone to ask what I need it all for but no one every does.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:51 PM on February 28, 2011

I work with a woman who has a bunch of rabbits (all neutered or spayed). She brings in one to work once a week. They are amazingly cute animals. She says they are very messy and can be destructive (burrowing into mattresses and furniture). She loves them and doesn't seem to mind cleaning up after them. When the come to work, they poop and pee all over.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 5:51 PM on February 28, 2011

Best answer: I've had a rabbit for the past 11 years (still alive and well, though he loves sleeping and cuddling still!).

What I can say is rabbits are wonderful pets (especially for vegetarian owners! :)).

1. Your schedule will be find, but your rabbit will crave attention when you get home after being alone all day, so make sure you don't just come home and make dinner and sleep. If your rabbit will be free-roaming around your house while you are gone, that would be better.

2. On the smelling part, the *only* time my rabbit has smelled "bad" is when he pees. And that's because rabbits have a high ammonia content in their urine. It is easily cleaned up by soaking it up with a towel. Litter usually absorbs the smell. In general, rabbit litter boxes smell like flowers compared to cat's! In my rabbits old age, we just let him pee on some towels we have laid down under our table (his favorite spot) and he pees there. It been about a year and the carpet still has no trace of rabbit urine, so the smell factor is very very minimal. Their poop is usually hard round balls easily picked up with your hands and throw away or composted. They make soft poops which can be really smelly, but they eat them right away to get more nutrients out of them (usually in the morning).

3. The cost of a rabbit really depends on you and your location, I guess. One major thing rabbits need is hay, and its kinda ridiculous in pet stores. We buy in bulk from a neighbor farm and its crazy cheap to get. You can get HUGE bags of rabbit pellets from a place like Menards, Fleet n Farm, etc.--pretty much any farm supply store or something like that will have bulk rabbit food cheaper than a pet store ( and it will be the same quality). Besides hay, you should buy your bun fresh veggies for every day. For the past 11 years, we've fed our bunny healthy fresh foods from the store twice a day. Carrots, romaine lettuce, broccoli, green beans, carrot tops (sometimes you can get them for free!), dandelion greens, etc. and as treats they enjoy nut like sunflower seeds, cashews, etc. So it really depends on what quality food you'd be willing to buy them. But my rabbit is old and still very healthy and strong, never once was sick, so I would say fresh vegetables are the biggest area of cost for a bunny. Also, if the bunbun will be living in your house and you potty train him to go in a litter box, litter can get pretty expensive, too. Once again, buying it in bulk is ideal for cost--some can even be flushed down the toilet, but we compost ours.

4. Like with any animal, it really depends on the individual pet you end up getting. Some like cuddling, some like running fast, some like digging in the dirt, etc. I like to think that when you see the one you want, you will just know it. In general, though, rabbits are not like dogs. Most will only sit and cuddle with you for an hour or so. If you get a cuddler, maybe two hours. But eventually they get fidgety. Mine loves being outside and has grown accustomed to our yard, so he doesn't need a leash, although we started him off with a small cat harness and leash so he wouldn't escape-bunnies love to run! In any sense, your rabbit will be what you make em (most likely, unless he had some childhood experience of trauma). If you give him lots of love, he will give you lots of love and cuddling back. Its important to let him adjust to his new environment first, but do not ignore him. Sit with him and let him come to you and explore. Its important that you bunny feels comfortable with you. On a semi-side note, bunnies rarely injure or hurt people. They do have nails which can leave scratches, but they should be worn with wear or clippings that they won't leave much permanent damage. I've only ever had my bunny bite me three times in my 11 years, so they really are safe animals to be around. Bunny bites are usually nips and don't draw much (if any) blood. I've never had my bunny bite through anything in my house, I guess ALSO. Be weary of any other animals who might be introduced to your bunny. Bunnies are known to BOLT from strange dogs, cats, etc. So if you know anyone who has one of these and is planning to bring them over, be warned. Bunnies are great at smell, too, so if you come back from a vacation or a friend's house with dogs, your bunny may spend 30 minutes just sniffing you!

In general, I think a bunny would be a great pet for you! But be prepared for a long-time commitment, though. We got out bunny (who started life as an outside rabbit) thinking he'd only live 5 or 6 years, but just passed 11 and going strong! So don't go into thinking that a bunny would only be a few years, some live longer than dogs! (:

tl;dr : Go for it! But be prepared.

I'm *very* passionate about rabbits, so if you have any questions feel free to mail me!
posted by fuzzysoft at 5:54 PM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

oh I forgot to mention how much they love fruit*! It is sugary, so it should be a treat in moderation. But my first rabbit Baron von Floppy Ears ABSOLUTELY FREAKS OUT when he hears me getting the blueberries out of the fridge. it's pretty damn cute.

*of course check one of the online lists to see what fruits are ok for them.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:02 PM on February 28, 2011

What drjimmy said about fruit is good. They like variety in their diets (as do we all). They have yogurt drop snacks at pet stores that can be good to give as an occasional treat. Lots of fresh veggies along with their hay and pellets -- they can have trouble with constipation if you don't give enough diet variety.

Bunnies LOVE to play -- something I didn't really realize at first. Also they will chew, as everyone has said, through EVERYTHING. I had my bunny's cage next to a bookcase, and all the book tops were nibbled. When she was out of her cage she'd strip wires and chew on the legs of my kitchen table. Best to do as someone suggested and limit your bunny to one room (at least at first) that you can bunny proof, and provide cardboard boxes that your bunny can chew up. Cat toys (non-catnip, of course) are good. Jingle balls especially. They love to run and leap.

Bunnies are kind of fragile. Handle carefully, but handle often. Only way to make your rabbit human-friendly is lots and lots of contact. Keep your rabbit cage in a quiet non-sunny spot so she/he has a refuge.

My cousin had a completely litter-box trained large rabbit (bigger than a cat) and somehow managed to use enough bitter apple and chewable toys so the rabbit had total range of the house and didn't destroy stuff. Takes some work, but it's doable.

I loved my rabbit, but I wouldn't own another. I couldn't let her roam free when I wasn't home (I also had three cats, and one of them wanted to eat her), and even though I had a really large cage with toys and food and a cardboard home she could shred, I still felt an awful lot of guilt.
posted by clone boulevard at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2011

I keep two rabbits, a male and a female, replacing as necessary (my last female died at 10, my current male is now 12).

Rabbits are not the most rewarding of pets. They're cute but often not interactive and their default setting can be anger. (Rats, for example, make delightful pets, with the downside being the short life span.) Most bunnies do not like being picked up, although some like to sit on your lap. Some love to play and the games can be thrilling and inventive.

Rabbit vet bills are higher than horse vet bills. Many small animal practices don't take rabbits at all, so you often have to call around to find the right vet. (The rabbit rescue people in your area will know where to go.)

That said, rabbits don't get treated for much besides pasteurella infection and bunny colic so vet bills tend to be minimal.

Hay can be a problem. If you have a garage, buy it by the bale at your local horse feed store. Make sure you get timothy and not alfalfa or oat. I have a farm and grow my own hay so I never run out.

I've had crabby rabbits and fun bunnies; I like them all the same. I had one that liked to play with my little dog and one who roamed my yard (all fenced) in the daytime until the local grey fox decided to move in too (he never caught the bunny).

The House Rabbit Society is very good and you'll find a lot of creative bunny people online with great ideas for building custom habitats.

One last thing -- if you go to your local SPCA/shelter/rescue, there'll usually be a rabbit person who knows the personalities of all the bunnies and can match you with your type. If you want one bun, they'll know which of their charges prefers to be a solo bunny.
posted by grounded at 7:13 PM on February 28, 2011

Plenty of good advice above, especially about doing research ahead of time. What I have to add is mostly this: whatever you do, don't get a rabbit expecting it to act like a cat, especially not right away. People do this and end up disappointed. Cats are predators; rabbits are prey animals. This goes a long way toward explaining a lot of rabbit behavior: if escaping things trying to eat you was a core competency for your species, and giant humans were always trying to get up in your shit and pick you up, then you'd probably freak out too. That's why it can take months to make friends with a bunny; you're working against how they've evolved to behave.

(I adopted my rabbit from a nice lady who was already taking care of three cats and two giant dogs at the time and was bummed that she wasn't really able to socialize the little guy enough to be able to touch him. I've had him four or five months now and he's sloooooowly getting acclimated to snuggling. I think he's pretty great.)
posted by clavicle at 9:30 PM on February 28, 2011

I live with my two rabbits, Jlo and Appa. I've had Jlo for about 4 yrs now, Appa for about 2.

They are the most awesome creatures but please do not expect them to be like a dog or a cat or a hamster or any other animal that they are not. They are uniquely their own and have their own traits which MOST PEOPLE WILL MISUNDERSTAND. Some of the answers above irk me for this very reason.

1) When I had just one bunny, I felt that she was quite lonely being home by herself without me. On the other hand, this could be due to personality - she is quite needier and cautious than Appa who I think wouldn't mind running amok and entertaining himself all day without me. However, the clear conclusion is that both are much happier together than they would be by themselves. I no longer feel guilt when I have to come home late because I know they have each other.

2) Rabbits do not smell bad; they actually smell quite lovely and warm. They are indeed clean animals, forever washing themselves (and their ears, as if brushing long hair - such an adorable sight to see!). It is true that their pee can get quite intense but with a regularly cleaned litter box, there is no smell emitted at all. Even when I am not as responsible as I ought to be in cleaning it, my apartment is FAR FAR from smelling like urine at all. I have many friends who can attest to this fact so it's not just me. I would say 99% of the people who think rabbits smell are 1) not litter-box training them, 2) not getting them spayed or neutered, 3) ignoring the poor guys in cramped cages where their feces and urine would pile up. Awful.

3) Pellets costs me about $15 a month, hay (which you can get way cheaper if you order from a farm) averages around to be ... $10 a month? Vegetables cost the most - perhaps 20 a month.

4) Rabbits are not dogs or cats - as mentioned earlier, they are PREY animals. Meaning it may take awhile for them to trust you and even then, being picked up is not really preferable. As adorable as they are, if you are looking for something to cuddle with, you should probably go with some other pet. (They can be super smart though: the best interaction I had with Jlo was when I clicker-trained her to do tricks. She could follow a target around and learned the command to stand up for a treat.)

Please, please, please read up on why rabbits are the way they are before adopting one (from a rescue shelter!!). Both the House Rabbit Society and the Language of Lagomorphs linked above are awesome material. You must be patient and willing to learn and adapt to your bunny and his/her needs (e.g. it is true they are natural chewers so you must provide toys for them to chew up and monitor their activities while free roam) rather than expect him/her to adapt to your desires.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 11:28 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everything is pretty much covered up there, but one thing that I didn't see mentioned as much is the FUR. Holy moly did my rabbit shed a lot. Since he was stationed in a room with a fan and popcorn ceiling the fur issue became such a pain in the butt. The fur really does get everywhere....though I suppose it might not be so bad if you were really diligent with grooming.

Also, my dear rabbit lived to the ripe old age of 12, so yeah...not always a short-term pet.
posted by sprezzy at 12:09 AM on March 1, 2011

I have a rabbit, am in my late 20s, and am gone about 12 hrs per day and he is a very happy bunny. Every rabbit has its own personality but if you let them run around and have enough entertaining toys so they don't get bored and destroy things, then most will be ok on your schedule.

Rabbit Pros: fun, individual personalities, soft, quiet, don't smell, litterbox trainable, can be left alone for a while, you can share a salad with them, they have cute butts, they hide in things, their "toys" are really cheap- mine's favorites are junkmail, the tv remote, and magazines, and you can amaze them with a newspaper wrapped around a stick

Rabbit Cons: delicate health (more breakable than dogs or cats with a fragile digestive system), hard to find good vets for, usually aren't as affectionate as dogs, need fresh food daily, sometimes chew cords or table legs

My rabbit is awesome and affectionate and likes to lick the inner elbows of people he admires, and when he is hungry in the morning he dive-bombs me in bed from his perch on the back of the couch. But he also gets cranky and grunts when you try to pick him up and would usually rather sit on his special rug by himself than with friends.

They are great pets except when they get sick- lots of rabbits get stomach problems and pretty much any rabbit illness is a big deal since they are prey animals and kind of programmed to shut down easily. My rabbit sometimes gets stressed when I go away and have friends feed him and refuses to eat, which causes huge digestive issues which can get expensive if they get to the point of needing a vet. You just have to worry about them more than larger sturdier animals like cats or dogs, but I think it is worth it, and not all rabbits are as spoiled and sensitive as mine.

I think you should get one.
posted by rmless at 8:19 AM on March 1, 2011

Well, I just wanted to suggest chinchillas. I had a rabbit for 6 years and while lovely, I now know that chinchillas are definitely the best fit for me.
1. I live in an apartment and work all day. I give them shredded wheat treats in the morning when I'm getting ready for work and they sleep all day while I'm at work so I dont have to worry about them missing me. When I get home I feed them and they get to have playtime in the large playpen area I've fenced off in my livingroom. Many people have just one, I however adopted a bonded pair of brothers and it's adorable to see them cuddle and groom each other.
2. Chinchillas are practically odorless, the strongest smell is really just the hay they eat. They can be litter-trained to pee in one spot but they cant control the constant little poops, which are easily vacuumed or swept up.
3. Upfront to purchase a chinchilla, its cage and outfit it will cost you some but to feed them, for my two boys a $12 8lb bale of hay and a $9 5lb bag of pellets lasts about 3 months. They dont require checkups but if they do develop teeth problems it can get spendy.
4. Chinchillas all have very distinct personalities. Younger ones can be more feisty and independent while older ones are calmer and may be more affectionate, each is different. But they're so smart and silly I just have really fallen for mine.
posted by sweetmarie at 9:06 AM on March 1, 2011

The screaming rabbit incident was when my friend and I were young, trying to take a shy rabbit from its hutch and walking it in the yard on a leash. I don't remember if it was a collar or a harness, but the rabbit didn't want it on, and didn't like being directed by a leash. We only tried that once.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on March 1, 2011

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