bunny at the end of its lifespan

How Long Do Bunnies Live As Pets? (Lifespan)

Butch, one of our bunnies, has just diet. He was 8 year old.

Bunny lifespan is what we all have to take into account when adopting a pet rabbit. If you ever had to bury a hamster, a cat, or a dog, you know that all pets eventually die. That’s just nature.

How long do domestic pet rabbits live?

In short, 8 to 12 years. In the wild, rabbits live for 1 or 2 years. However, with the domestication of rabbits in the 20th Century, the lifespan of indoor rabbits can reach was extended.

A common mistake about bunny lifespan is that they live 3 to 6 years. If you find the right rabbit breed with good genes and know how to take care of a rabbit, they can live for more than 6 years. Most ‘successful’ bunnies will die when they are about 8 years old.

The oldest rabbit that ever lived was 16 years old. That is a double of a lifespan of an average pet bunny. There are also a few recorded bunnies who lived for 14 years. Small domestic rabbit breeds, for example, live longer than larger rabbit breeds.

I will outline how long do pet bunnies live in 3 key points:

  1. The average lifespan of different bunny breeds. For example, how long do Lionhead bunnies live?
  2. What can we do to prolong the lifespan of our bunny?
  3. What are the common causes of deaths in rabbits?

1. Average Lifespan Of Different Bunny Breeds

When picking a bunny breed, knowing the life expectancy of that particular bunny breed can be taken in account.

For example, which pet bunny will live longer, a Lionhead or a Flemish Giant?

In truth, it’s very difficult to tell which bunny breeds live longer. There are very few clues with which we can estimate a life expectancy of a different bunny breed.

According to Judith Pierce, adoptions director at the San Diego House Rabbit Society, “larger breeds often have a shorter lifespan than smaller rabbits.”

That means that, on average, small Lionhead should live longer than the big Flemish Giant. However, there are obviously numerous exceptions to the rule.

Some Lionheads can live for 10 years, other will unfortunately die after 3 years. How long pet rabbits live come down to two things:

  1. Genes.
  2. Nurture.

As bunny owners, we don’t have control over genes. However, the nurture of a rabbit is entirely in our control. Let’s look at what we can do to prolong the lifespan of our bunnies.

2. How To Prolong Bunny Lifespan (Good Practices)

Today, domestic bunnies live longer because of better veterinary care and because bunny owners know better how to take care of a bunny.

Domestication is a big factor here. In the wild, rabbits live up to 2 years because of predators, diseases, and lack of nutrition. Domestic bunnies, on the other hand, don’t have to fear predators, we have vets to help with the diseases and we can educate ourselves to serve the best nutritional diet to a bunny.

Essentially, there are a number of ways which can prolong how long do bunnies live. These are:

  1. Right indoor housing. Having a large playpen can prolong a bunny lifespan because a domestic bunny can move around. Additionally, high bunny hutches can be detrimental to how long bunnies live as pets. If they jump from a high place, they can injure their front legs. This will reduce lifespan.
  2. Right bunny food. Bunnies can have a lot of gastrointestinal problems if they eat the wrong foods. Some house plants, for example, can be poisonous to rabbits. Enjoying a healthy and balanced bunny diet consisting of fresh hay, right vegetables, fruits, and rabbit pellets can help the bunny to live longer.
  3. Having a good veterinarian. It’s smart to find a veterinarian even before you adopt a bunny. None of us is an expert in bunny diseases and bunnies, unfortunately, tend to be quite sickly pets. Obviously bunnies with good healthcare will live longer.
  4. (Optional) Mental stimulation. Bunnies should be mentally stimulated with toys, cardboards, big playpens, and so on. Old bunnies are similar to old people; they tend to respond better if they have some sort of mental stimulation.

A good bunny owner can have a big effect on how long do pet bunnies live.

3. Why Bunnies Die? (Common Causes Of Death)

There are numerous causes of deaths that can shorten the lifespan of bunnies. The most prominent one that indoor rabbits face is gastrointestinal stasis. GI problems can occur in 1-year bunnies, 5 years bunnies, or 10-year bunnies. In short, GI problems don’t discriminate.

Reasons why a gastrointestinal statis can occur are various. These include:

  • Stress.
  • Dehydration. That’s why it’s important for bunnies to always have fresh water in their habitat.
  • Stomach blockage. Bunnies ingest their fur; this can lead to stomach blockage from fur balls. Cats can spit those out, bunnies can’t.

For us, it’s important to create a low-stress environment for a bunny and to supply them with fresh water and a balanced diet.

How to notice a GI problem that may shorten the life of a bunny? If a bunny doesn’t have a healthy appetite or/and if we notice a bunny is producing smaller droppings, we can suspect a GI stasis. In such a case, we should consider taking a bunny to a veterinarian.

Other less common causes of deaths in rabbits are:

  • Poisoning. Some house plants can be toxic to bunnies.
  • Heatstroke. Bunnies can overheat rather quickly. We should design a habitat that provides shade to rabbits.
  • Injury. Bunnies can injure their front legs if they jump from high places.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Cancer.
  • Heart attack.

The best you can do is being aware your bunny can have such problems. When we notice something, we should take a bunny to a veterinarian ASAP.

Long Live Bunnies!

In summary, bunnies can become teenagers (live even 10 years or more). We need to take care of them as far as nutrition, habitat, and veterinarians are concerned.

With some luck, our bunnies can live a long and happy life.

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