Monday, October 17, 2011

The True Cost of a Rabbit as a Companion (PS: They are worth every cent.)

In September Kiplinger Personal Finance published a slide show on the "The Cost of Owning 5 Popular Small Household Pets." The first pet featured was a "miniature lop" rabbit more commonly known as a "mini-lop," Their totals came out to: First-year cost: $1,040 Annual cost: $660 Total lifetime cost (avg. lifespan: 10-12 years): $6,980 - $8,300

Neuter/Spaying: Their neuter/spay estimate was around $160. I have seen this cost climb for both neuter and spays the last couple of years since laser surgery is becoming more popular and it is more expensive. I was glad to see they recommended getting rabbits in for an annual check-up, which they estimated at $70.  If the rabbit lives to be 10 years old, an "exotic" pet vet can get a little pricey for specialized care in those senior years.
Cage/Litter Box: They estimated a cage  and litter box at $125.  An X-pen (also known as a "puppy pen") runs around $70 and there are countless other options and some very nice bunny habitats available for a little more than a standard wire cage.
Toys: I thought the toys estimate  of $40 was high since the cardboard core of a paper towel roll is sometimes more fun than anything else.
Grooming: Grooming tools at $20 seemed a little low since my sissors ran that much alone since they are stainless and curved for safety.
Feed: They also noted diet is an important component in keeping medical costs down. They further estimated the average annual cost for rabbit food of $190.  It seems a little low without vegetables from a garden.  However, I disagreed that "high-fiber pellets are critical grinding teeth down."  Hay does the job right.  Fiber pelleted food literally disintegrates in a rabbit's mouth with one or two crunches.  
Litter & Bedding: I thought the annual expense for "litter and bedding" was high at $400.  I have never, ever purchased nor used "bedding" for my rabbits.  A nice bale of timothy hay from a feed store every couple of months at $20 works just fine for bedding, litter and, of course, 80% of a rabbit's diet.

Overall, I thought the rabbit expense estimates were close to actual costs and even a little low. Rabbits are neither low mainenance nor inexpensive companions. Yet there was something missing. The article didn't have the space to calculate the value of watching rabbits joyfully hop around the house, seeing their sweet faces lowered for a pet, or the privilege of knowing a small prey animal can learn to trust you and even your cat.  Priceless.
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