Pros and Cons of Rabbits As Indoor Pets (Should You Get One?)

When considering new house pets, cats and dogs immediately spring to mind for most people however did you know that rabbits make great companions too?

Rabbits have many pros and cons. They are clean, friendly intelligent, loving animals who make excellent companions for those willing to devote time and energy to them. however, they can also be territorial, destructive, aggressive, and delicate, making them costly in terms of upkeep.


Pros of rabbits as pets

  1. They help with stress relief, mental health, and wellbeing
  2. They are clean and litter train easily
  3. They are loving and have great personalities
  4. They are quiet and won’t annoy the neighbors
  5. They are gentle
  6. They are intelligent
  7. They have long expected lifespans

Cons of rabbits as pets

  1. They can be destructive
  2. They require a lot of cleaning
  3. They are delicate and suffer from many medical issues
  4. They have a specialist diet
  5. Their upkeep is expensive
  6. They prefer the company of their own kind
  7. They need a large exercise space

As a decade-long & (multiple) rabbit owner, I’ve personally been through the highs and lows of rabbit ownership so in this short post I thought I’d go over these pros and cons that I’ve experienced while keeping rabbits as indoor pets.

Pros of Keeping Rabbits as Pets

1. Rabbits help with stress relief, mental health and wellbeing

On many occasion I’ve come home from a really tough day at work and found myself in need of some stress relief.

Having a safe and secure area where you can let your rabbits run and play is a great way to wind down at the end of the day.

Simply grab a hot drink and a comfortable chair (and a warm coat if you need it) and let your bunnies run free. You’ll soon feel the day’s stresses melt away!

2. Rabbits are clean and litter train easily

Just like cats, rabbits are quite easy to litter train. In the wild rabbits choose one or a few places to poop and pee.

Litter training can be achieved by simply placing a litter tray at the location the rabbit has chosen as its toilet spot, alternatively, you can scoop up some of the bunny droppings or soiled bedding and put it in a tray.

A rabbit will find its way to the tray with no issues (providing it’s safe from distractions).

3. Rabbits are loving and have great personalities

Despite being mostly silent animals, spend time with a rabbit and you’ll see that they still have an amazing amount of personality. A rabbit who is comfortable in human company will soon display their own individual character.

It’s hard to describe exactly what this looks, like but you’ll know it when you see it, it’s the way a rabbit will look at you when you aren’t quite fast enough with the treats, it’s following you around or cuddling up with you on the sofa. 

Rabbit’s personalities really shine in the company of other rabbits who understand their body language, but if a human gives a rabbit enough kindness and love and you are sure to get a lot of love back.

4. Rabbits are quiet

Unlike dogs or cats, rabbits make little to no sound during everyday interaction.  Instead, they rely on subtle body language to communicate with their fellow lagomorphs.

Although rabbits can make sounds, they usually only display these abilities when they are captured or in extreme fear.

Being silent is another reason why a rabbit makes a good house pet.  While a dog may annoy the neighbors by barking when you’re out, a rabbit can be left for hours without making a peep (providing it’s got plenty of enrichment). 

The only sound they will make is the satisfied purring from your head strokes when you come in from work!

5. Rabbits are gentle

Rabbits are gentle souls, and once they are spayed or neutered won’t usually show aggression unless suffering from a painful medical issue or they are being mistreated. 

As prey animals, rabbits are rarely the aggressor in conflicts with other pets unless they feel their life is in danger (although you should always consider certain species and their compatibility with rabbits before introducing them). 

Rabbits will usually display a lot of affection around their favorite human companion.

6. Rabbits are intelligent

Rabbits are intelligent animals who can be trained to do all manner of things and if you’ve ever seen the amazing Binny the Bunny playing basketball you’ll know that they seem to enjoy impressing their owners too. 

Just like training a dog, training a rabbit can be achieved with food and a bit of repetition. 

While not every rabbit will be willing to play basketball, all rabbits can be taught to associate certain words and phrases with simple actions. 

If you’re interested in finding out more why not read our post on how to teach a rabbit to come when called right here.

7. Rabbits have long expected lifespans

Rabbits in the wild don’t usually last longer than a year or two but this is quite a contrast to domesticated bunnies.  Well looked after rabbits should live a long and happy life of between 8 and 12 years.

Cons of Keeping Rabbits as Pets

1. Rabbits can be destructive

Although there is not usually any malicious intent a rabbit’s normal behavior can sometimes be seen as destructive.  Rabbits’ teeth grow constantly and can only be controlled when they are provided with high fiber plant material to graze on. 

Even when a rabbit is not grazing they will probably be nibbling on toys or looking for alternatives which means anything from wooden structures inside of their hutch to chair or table legs if you decide to keep them inside the house.

a chewed phone cable

Rabbits will also use their mouths to investigate new and interesting items around their environment, which is not usually a problem if kept outside but certainly more of an issue if you keep a house rabbit and are prone to leaving shoes and clothes lying around. 

In short, if you keep a rabbit you need to understand their normal behaviors and be willing to forgive them (and learn how to bunny proof your belongings!).

2. Rabbits require a lot of cleaning

Rabbits are like cats and will clean themselves by licking their paws and then using these to wash.  However, as clean as rabbits like to keep themselves, their living spaces are usually a different matter. 

Because of their requirement to graze and digest plant matter, rabbits poop constantly, producing an incredible amount of droppings.

In the vast open spaces, they enjoy in the wild this does not cause an issue, however, in the confines of a home or hutch it takes work to keep all this waste in check. 

Failing to regularly clean a rabbit hutch may lead to sitting around in poop and even health issues, especially in older or overweight rabbits that find it difficult to clean themselves. 

Flystrike is one such issue whereby a fly lays its eggs on a rabbit which then hatch and start eating the rabbit’s flesh, if this occurs it can be life-threatening.

3. Rabbits are delicate

Despite their long life expectancy, it’s an unfortunate reality that rabbits kept in captivity don’t always reach a ripe old age. 

Domesticated rabbits are in fact very delicate animals that are prone to a number of serious medical conditions that can shorten their lifespan significantly.

Furthermore, these conditions can come on very quickly and without warning.

A rabbit seemingly in perfect health when you left the house that morning may deteriorate to near death by the time you return home. 

Having experienced this myself on a couple of occasions, this can be a very distressing thing to witness.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news and a lot of these medical conditions can be avoided simply by providing your rabbit with a good diet (plenty of fresh hay, water, and vegetables), exercise, and a safe and secure place to live.

4. Rabbits have specialist dietary requirements

A large number of the medical issues that rabbits often suffer can be attributed to poor diet. 

Although a rabbit’s diet is not particularly complex, they have specific dietary requirements which need to be adhered to to ensure the rabbit stays healthy (and the digestive system keeps moving along as it should). 

Contrary to popular opinion and what we see in cartoons, too much carrot can be very bad for a rabbit while some lettuces (e.g. iceberg) contain lactucarium which can be harmful in large quantities.

Rabbits should be fed on a selection of leafy green vegetables, unlimited grass hays, good quality high fiber pellets, and fresh water daily.  Treats, especially high sugar shop-bought treats should only be given on occasion.

5. Rabbits are expensive

Rabbits have a low buying price meaning they are popular pets for children.  However, this is deceiving and the actual cost of a rabbit over a lifespan of several years can be thousands!

From vaccinations, neutering and spaying, providing an unlimited supply of good quality hay and fresh vegetables, rabbits (especially multiple rabbits) are a significant weekly expense. 

When considering a rabbit you should also remember that rabbits need spaying or neutering, the cost of these procedures will likely be several times the cost of the rabbit itself.

6. Rabbits need companionship

Rabbits are very social animals and in the wild live in extremely large groups.  Domestic rabbits, even those with regular human contact also share this need for companionship.

A rabbit may become depressed if they are unable to socialize with a member of their own species.

I remember one of our own house rabbits, Snowball, becoming very depressed and withdrawn over several weeks, despite regular attention from us.

After a while, we decided to get Snowball a companion and adopted Nery’s from our local shelter.  Well. Snowball and Nerys got on like a house on fire!

Snowball’s personality changed almost overnight, he was much happier, more boisterous, and in general much more like his old self!

The reason we include this point in our ‘cons’ category is that we think that unless you are prepared to get two rabbits, (especially if you are out at work during the daytime) then you should not commit to taking one on as a pet.  

This, of course, means double the financial cost as described above!

7. Rabbits need a lot of space

A hutch is not enough! Rabbits are not hamsters and cannot be confined to a small hutch alone.  

Rabbits are active animals and will need enough space to exhibit some of the natural wild behaviors, this means running, playing, and binkying.

As a minimum, rabbits will need an area of at least 32 Square feet (a run area of 8 X 4 feet).  

This rules out rabbits as pets for anyone who is not prepared to make them part of the family (keeping them as a free roam house rabbit) or those without an inadequately sized garden.

8. Not all rabbits enjoy being held

In fact, most don’t.  Contrary to what a lot of new owners expect most rabbits aren’t really keen on being handled or cuddled. 

As prey animals, rabbits prefer to have all four feet firmly on the ground and when they are lifted up it gives them a feeling similar to that of being taken by a predator,

The rabbit species adorable appearance means that most of us can’t resist trying to pick ours up at some point however it’s important to build up an amount of trust before attempting it. 

A rabbit’s delicate skeletal structure means that there is a real risk of a rabbit becoming injured if it is handled incorrectly. 

The need to keep a firm but gentle hold on a rabbit to prevent them from trying to escape your grasp makes rabbits an unsuitable pet for small children.

Further Reading

8 Pros and Cons to Owning a Bunny

Pros and cons of getting a rabbit for the kids

Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Rabbit


Darren is the founder and editor at Bunny Advice and has been caring for rabbits for over a decade. He has a passion for helping animals and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.

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