How long do wild rabbits and pet rabbits live?
How long do wild rabbits and pet rabbits live? There are factors to consider in how long rabbits will live. The size of the rabbit, the genetics and even the temperament of a rabbit breed can influence how long the rabbit will live. A big difference between the lifespans of wild rabbits versus domestic rabbits is the climate or conditions the rabbits will live in.
Typically, rabbits that live in the wild will not live longer than one year maybe two years at most. This is due to what conditions the wild rabbit will live in. The wild rabbit will face climatic changes, shortage of food, predators and disease which will all shorten the lifespan of a wild rabbit. Even man hunting rabbits for food or just for target practice will shorten the lifespan of the rabbit. Diseases that will typically kill wild rabbits:
- Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease or Rabbit Calicivirus Disease or Viral Hemorrhagic Disease
- Monkey pox
For example, Rabbit Hemorrhagic disease was first reported in England in 2014. The disease killed 4,000 rabbits and unfortunately left 37 million wild rabbits at risk. People would walk into a hutch and find a rabbit stretched out like it was asleep apparently not realizing it was dead. Later, they would walk out into the wild and find 2 or 3 more rabbits dead.
Breeders said the disease could be more deadly than Myxomatosis that killed nearly 99% of England’s rabbits in the 1950’s.
It may surprise pet lovers that domestic rabbits can live between 8 to 10 years. Some pet rabbits can live to be teenagers. Pet owners need to feed their pet rabbits the proper food and take them to the vet for annual checkups. There is a misconception among pet owners that rabbits do not need to make trips to the vet. But, like any other beloved pet rabbits need to see an animal doctor.
It is common knowledge that large-sized rabbits will by nature live shorter lives than small-sized rabbits. This is because the large-sized rabbits are of a more aggressive disposition than small-sized rabbits. The large-sized rabbits may live 3 or 4 years as compared to small-sized rabbits which will live 8 to 12 years. But do not put too much stock in this trend because there will always be one rabbit that breaks this pattern and lives longer than it is supposed to.
In recent years, pet owners have learned to feed their rabbits healthier foods and they are keeping their rabbits indoors more which protects them from predators and adverse outdoor weather conditions. Pet owners being more knowledgeable about taking care of rabbits combined with better trained veterinarians are helping to extend the lifespans of domestic rabbits.
The Sylvilagus genus consists of 17 different types of species which are commonly known as cottontail rabbits. The species includes the swamp rabbit dwelling in the southern United States, the eastern cottontail that inhabits eastern Canada and extends into South America. Also, the mountain cottontail which resides in the western United States. These wild species basically have the same life span but their lifespans may vary a little bit depending on the climate and habitat they live in.
Sadly, the usual lifespan for the cottontail is about 15 months which is very short in comparison to other breeds of rabbits. These little furry creatures are prime food for hawks, snakes, coyotes and many other predators. If the predators won’t get them the harsh winters and sub below freezing temperatures will get them. Wintertime in Canada can be vicious and the food supply gets very scarce in the cold, dark winter months. Starvation will help reduce the cottontail population as well.
The cottontail may make it to 2 years old. Other predators of the cottontail are humans, dogs, cats, mountain lions, and foxes. Really any animal bigger and faster than the cottontail will be its predator. The young of the cottontail will frequently not reach adulthood. This because they will use other holes burrowed by animals. Snakes know this very well and will kill young cottontail rabbits at will. If the cottontail is kept as a pet it can live up to 8 years old.
What if you stumble on to a nest that is housing a litter of wild cottontail rabbit babies? Or what if you accidentally mow over a rabbit’s nest? What if your dog digs up a rabbit’s nest? Believe it or not these types of questions are frequently asked questions.
People think that if they touch the wild rabbit babies the mother will smell the human touch and abandon the babies. A comforting thought is the mother will not abandon the babies if a human has touched them. They think the babies will die from starvation. Mothers do nurse their babies but not 24 hours a day. They will nurse them between sunset and sunrise but not constantly. They will stay for short periods of time and then leave the babies. They only nurse them during the evening hours or into the early morning hours.
If the mother senses a presence than she will get spooked and leave the babies. It takes a special kind of nurturing to keep the babies alive long enough so they can go and take care of themselves in the wild. You must keep watch over them all the time and feed them because the commitment is a huge one and it will take up all your time.
You cannot work them around your kid’s schedules or your schedule they must be attended to as the priority. Some people have this knack for nurturing and other just don’t have it. The ones that don’t have it will over feed the babies and kill them.
Generally, the domestic rabbits will live 7 or 8 years longer than the wild breeds of the same types of rabbits. Some rabbits may live to be 15 years old. The larger rabbits will have shorter lifespans than the smaller breeds will have as we mentioned above. Keep in mind, that if you decide to purchase a rabbit as a pet that the larger breeds will be duller and less cheerful than the smaller breeds.
The Rex Rabbit breed comes in amber, blue, chocolate, cinnamon, and black. They have a short lifespan and will normally live only 5 to 6 years. You can prolong their lives by having them neutered. This will extend their lives by 3 to 5 years. This is one way you can help them to live longer is to eliminate their ability to breed.
The Dwarf Rabbit breed are some of the most preferred pets to have along with cats and dogs. There are many breeds of the dwarf rabbit species and they will live a long time. For instance, the Netherlands Dwarf breed can live for more than 8 years.
The Himalayan rabbit breed is a popular pet because of its gentle disposition and it’s easy to take care of. These rabbits have less fur than other rabbits and they are very docile by nature. They have the same coloring as a Siamese cat. Their grooming needs are minimal so they make the perfect pet to care for.
Myth 1-Rabbits are low-maintenance animals to take care of. This myth will kill a rabbit before its natural life span is over. People will neglect the rabbit thinking they don’t need to be fed special food. This is incorrect to keep rabbits healthy and alive you need to feed them clean, green leafy vegetables. Like a salad, for example, but do not include croutons, salad dressing and those kinds of extras humans like to eat in their salads.
Myth 2- Rabbits do not need to be cleansed to stay healthy. This is not true their hind quarters must be cleaned constantly to avoid them from getting sicknesses that could lead to death. They may develop chronic illnesses that can lead to many veterinarian trips and they can become quite expensive to maintain. But they must have the illnesses taken care of early on so they can recover and live out their full life spans.
Myth 3-Oh you know rabbits only live for one or two years. So, you do not need to invest a long term commitment to taking care of them. You do need to make a long term commitment to taking care of them because like cats and dogs they can live for 8 to 12 years. Some of them can live into their teens so you better be prepared to take care of them for years. If you want the rabbit to reach its full life expectancy you need to prepare to take care of them for a long time like a cat or a dog.
Conclusion: We have considered the lifespans of wild and domestic breeds of rabbits. There are certain things a pet owner must do to take care of a rabbit so it will live its full life expectancy. It is not advisable to try and take care of a litter of wild rabbits. Generally larger-sized rabbits have a shorter lifespan than smaller rabbits.