When welcoming a house rabbit into your home, you probably think more about the happy times you will have together than at the end of its life. If not all rabbits have the same life expectancy, do you know how many years you will be able to spend with your rabbit?
The life expectancy of the European rabbit
The wild life is harsh and exposes the rabbit to many dangers. To perpetuate the species, the rabbit has the opportunity to reproduce all year round with several partners. If the females give birth each year between 15 and 25 pups out of 3 to 5 litters, only 5 to 6 young reach adulthood.
The young are born naked and blind: they are therefore particularly vulnerable. The main causes of mortality in young rabbits are:
- Heavy rainfall leading to drowning while they are still in their nests,
- Agricultural work,
- The diseases: myxomatosis, RHD (rabbit haemorrhagic disease) and coccidiosis.
The annual survival rate is therefore on average only 20% in the young.
In adults, this rate is 50%, which is not huge. The dangers are still numerous, including for an adult. In the event of a threat, the rabbit has the reflex to take refuge in one of the entrances to its burrow. Its sturdy legs certainly allow it to reach 40 km / h at top speed. But that is not always enough.
Under these conditions, the life expectancy of a European rabbit is only 3-4 years.
The life expectancy of the farm rabbit
The rabbit is the second highest animal in the world, behind the broiler. Raising rabbits is a delicate activity. It is an animal very sensitive to stress, can easily die of a heart attack or digestive disorders.
Organic farming must give rabbits access to an outdoor space. Rabbits can sometimes move on vegetated paths. In contrast, factory-farmed rabbits have a much less comfortable life, where space is scarce and injuries are numerous. The rabbits are subjected to an intense reproduction rate there resulting in a mortality rate of 30%. Hygiene is also poor, compensated by massive recourse to antibiotics.
Whatever its living conditions, the farm rabbit being intended for consumption, when it manages to survive its breeding conditions, it cannot hope to live more than 100 days.
The life expectancy of the pet rabbit
The domestic rabbit is the luckiest of all. Her life, usually wrapped in hugs, can last at least 8 years and stretch for up to 12 years. Welcoming a rabbit into your home is therefore a fairly long-term adventure.
Be careful though! A domestic rabbit nonetheless exhibits the same high sensitivity to stress as other rabbits. To hope to enjoy your company for as long as possible, it is essential to meet and respect your needs. An over-stimulating environment where young children handle it without precautions and where the noise is constant are not conducive to a long life.
In addition to a peaceful habitat, it is essential to provide the rabbit with a suitable diet. The rabbit is a strict herbivore. It may seem obvious, however, many rabbit owners are still offering sweets to their four-legged companions, thus promoting the appearance of comorbid factors such as obesity.
To flourish and enjoy his whole life, a rabbit must also be able to live freely several hours a day. Obviously, this freedom requires upstream education so that the rabbit does not attack, for example, potentially deadly electrical wires. For your own comfort, the rabbit must also learn to defecate in a specific, sterilized place. Your rabbit should also be able to take care of it. Boredom is never good for development and general health, regardless of the animal …
Lower longevity is generally observed in all animals in small animals. In rabbits, it would seem that on the contrary, the small size favors the duration of the life because a dwarf rabbit can reach the age of 15 years.
However, choosing the smallest rabbit is a reasoning that has its limits. Indeed, you must make sure of the breeding quality where the rabbit comes from: it is the guarantee of a serious work of follow-up of the reproducers and of the crosses, essential to rule out the individuals presenting malformations and to limit the phenomena of consanguinity. Moreover, “toy” rabbits are generally only sickly rabbits, potentially carrying defects which, on the contrary, presume a shorter life. It is therefore in your best interest to obtain precise information before purchasing your rabbit.
If it happens that a rabbit suddenly dies, there are signs that your rabbit is in danger, especially if he is young and has been healthy until now.
A rabbit that no longer feeds or drinks is a rabbit in pain. In these cases, you should never delay reacting and it is better to take him quickly to the vet instead of waiting to see how the situation evolves. Rabbits easily have dental problems that do not fix on their own and require prompt intervention. However, only a professional is able to perform the examinations necessary to make a reliable diagnosis. If you have insured your rabbit well, it will be easier for you to accept the costs of care.
An inactive rabbit is also a bad sign. When animals weaken, they fold up to reach a lethargic or listless state. They move at a minimum to save their energy.
Signs of respiratory distress should also alert you.
More generally, everything unusual behavior should arouse your attention. Animals have regular habits and behaviors. A change is always significant and it is advisable to look for the cause, whether it is aggression when the rabbit was not until now, sudden nervousness or new or accentuated fearful behavior.
When it’s over
When the death of the rabbit is confirmed, it is necessary to take care of its body. Do not throw the body away in the garbage as this could help spread the disease that would have killed your rabbit. You can go to a veterinary clinic or hospital that offers cremation services, or to an animal mortuary. You can also bury your rabbit’s body.