So you are thinking about getting a pet rabbit for yourself or your child but you want to know how much it will cost. People often forget about the ongoing expense of a pet, especially one that can potentially live to be 8-10 years old (or older!).
How Much Does a Rabbit Cost?
Where you get your pet rabbit and what breed of rabbit you want will ultimately determine the cost. A "normal" breed or mix that you'd find at a pet store or rescue facility will cost less than a breed like a Jersey Wooly or Flemish Giant from a breeder. Expect to pay $20-$40 for a rabbit from a pet store, and $5-$20 for a rabbit from a rescue, fair, or 4-H club. Breeders vary in what they charge for their specific breed of rabbit. Some are cheaper than pet stores while others with rare breeds will charge closer to $100 for a rabbit. Show rabbits and breeding rabbits with champion bloodlines will of course cost more, just like purebred dogs and cats with champion bloodlines.
How Much Does a Cage Cost?
If you plan to keep your rabbit outside you'll need a rabbit hutch. If you plan to keep him in the house you'll need a nicely sized cage. Hutches typically cost more than cages but many people also make their own hutch. Expect to spend around $150-$200 on a sturdy hutch if you don't make your own.
Indoor cages vary in design quite a bit but you can expect to spend $50-$100 on a nice rabbit cage. If you are able to have a rabbit-proofed room for your bunny you can get away with a smaller cage and allow your rabbit to stretch out and run around in the safe room.
How Much Do Rabbit Supplies Cost?
Aside from the initial investment of the hutch or cage, your rabbit will need ongoing supplies. Bedding, food, treats, and chew toys will need to be purchased and replaced regularly. For one rabbit, I would expect to spend about $40 a month for some bedding, hay and pellets, fresh vegetables, and some treats and toys. But this number can vary greatly depending on if you buy bedding and hay in bulk, provide organic, regular, or grow your own greens, and what kind of treats and toys you buy or make.
How Much Does Healthcare Cost for My Rabbit?
If you plan on neutering or spaying your rabbit you can expect an initial $125-$250 worth of veterinary care. After that big expense (but well worth it to prevent other health problems and behavioral issues) you should have a regular annual exam with your exotics vet (find an exotics vet near you). Regular check ups usually cost between $35-$65 depending on the vet. Pet insurance is available for rabbits through VPI Pet Insurance (no other company offers plans for exotics currently) for owners who are concerned about emergency costs and major illnesses like ileus, tooth issues, or other health problems as their rabbit gets older. Not all rabbits will end up with an issue but odds are there will be a problem at one time or another in your rabbit's fairly long life. The cost of caring for a sick rabbit will vary greatly on the vet and what is wrong with your rabbit but it isn't unusual to spend a couple hundred dollars on the most common rabbit issue, ileus.
Are There Any Other Expenses?
Don't forget about potentially having to pay for someone to board or care for your rabbit while you are on vacation, grooming costs for nail trims, tooth trims, and fur care (if your bunny can get matted or gets fecal balls), and potential repairs from your rabbit chewing on carpeting, furniture, wires, and other household items if your home isn't rabbit proofed.
You may not have expected it to cost this much to care for a pet rabbit but it is well worth it to have a happy and healthy bunny. As with any pet, be prepared and have a plan for unexpected health problems and for the length of time you'll care for your rabbit. Expect to have your bunny for 10 years and to incur the expenses of him for the same amount of time.