Both adorable and adaptable to human living arrangements, dwarf rabbits are popular pets. If you own one of these cuties, you might be wondering how long you can expect your dwarf rabbit to live. While you may hope your little friend lives forever, the good news is that dwarf rabbits do tend to live longer than their full-sized bunny counterparts. On average, dwarf rabbits live about 8-10 years. Different dwarf rabbit breeds live longer than others and proper care can also help your dwarf rabbit prolong their lives, sometimes even into their teenage year.
Dwarf Rabbit Breeds and Their Average Lifespan
Contrary to what you might think, a dwarf rabbit is not simply a smaller-than-usual version of a rabbit. True dwarf rabbits specifically have a gene for dwarfism. This gene not only makes these bunnies smaller but produces other physical differences as well. Dwarf rabbits usually don’t weigh more than 4 pounds but not every rabbit this small is actually a dwarf. True dwarf rabbits also have shorter ears, a more compact body, and a rounder head than full-size rabbits.
There are several dwarf rabbit breeds known to be true genetic dwarfs. These are the breeds you can expect to live longer than full-size breeds of rabbits. The average life expectancy for several known dwarf rabbit breeds is listed below:
It is important to note that these are average life expectancies for these breeds. Many dwarf bunnies can reportedly live as long as 12 or even 15 years with proper diet, housing, and veterinary care.
How to Help Your Dwarf Rabbit Live Longer
So, what is considered the proper care to help your dwarf rabbit hit their maximum lifespan? Well, correctly caring for a dwarf rabbit involves everything from diet, housing, grooming, playtime, and preventative veterinary visits. You will also need to educate yourself on common rabbit diseases and health concerns so you can quickly recognize when your dwarf rabbit needs medical intervention.
Bugs Bunny may spend all his time eating carrots, but real-life dwarf rabbits should mostly eat high-quality hay or grass. Timothy hay is a popular choice for feeding dwarf rabbits. Eating hay and grass helps keep your dwarf rabbit’s digestive system healthy and their teeth worn down properly. Dwarf rabbits can also be offered pellets, fruits, and vegetables in moderation or as treats.
Most dwarf rabbits do groom themselves but will also need regular brushing to ensure their coats stay clean and free of mats. Dwarf rabbits can get hairballs just like cats from grooming themselves. These hairballs can eventually cause digestive problems or even blockages so talk to your veterinarian about ways to prevent and treat them.
Make sure your dwarf rabbit stays clean and free of any parasites like fleas and mites. Ask your veterinarian before applying any kind of flea treatment because they are not all safe for rabbits.
If your dwarf rabbit does become dirty for some reason, use a damp cloth to clean them but don’t try to give them a bath. Bathing is very stressful for rabbits and stress should be avoided.
Dwarf rabbits can live either indoors or outdoors, provided they are given adequate shelter and protection. However, indoor bunnies generally live longer than those kept outdoors. Your dwarf bunny should have a spacious hutch or cage that is kept out of drafty areas or direct sunlight. Dwarf bunnies can have trouble handling temperature extremes.
Make sure to keep your dwarf bunny’s living space clean and sanitary at all times. Rabbits, even little dwarfs, can make messes, so it is important to thoroughly clean their cages once or twice a week. You should also clean up old food and spot clean droppings daily. Litter box training your bunny can help make cage cleaning easier.
Besides a safe, clean cage or hutch, dwarf rabbits ideally will have a larger space available for play, exercise, and mental stimulation. This can be an indoor room or enclosure that is bunny-proofed and quiet to minimize stress. Dwarf bunnies will also enjoy spending time outdoors if supervised and in a safe enclosure.
Giving your dwarf bunny space for play and exercise not only helps keep them physically healthy but allows them mental stimulation as well. Bunnies need social interaction and attention from their people daily. They will also love being able to practice natural behaviors like chewing, hiding, and digging.
Keeping your dwarf bunny’s daily life as enriching and stimulating as possible will help them live a longer, happier life. Many toys, chews, and hideaways are available to help you keep your dwarf rabbit’s life interesting.
Like human babies, bunnies are small, fragile, and will get into everything. This is particularly true of dwarf rabbits. Because they are so tiny, they will need extra precautions taken to keep their living space safe and stress-free.
Make sure your dwarf rabbit is kept away from electrical cords because chewing them can be dangerous. In general, rabbits will try to chew on anything they can get their teeth on so it’s important to keep any harmful materials out of their reach.
If you have children, especially young, rambunctious ones, be sure your dwarf bunny is kept safely away from their play areas. Teach children how to properly interact and hold your dwarf bunny without hurting them.
If your dwarf rabbit enjoys outdoor playtime, be sure their space is enclosed and that predators are not able to get near your bunny. Supervise your bunny when they are outside to make sure they stay safe.
Dwarf rabbits do not handle stress well and can become ill or even worse. Making sure your bunny feels safe and secure in their environment is one key to helping them live a long life.
A dwarf rabbit’s teeth are continually growing, which is why it is important to offer them the right diet and appropriate chew toys. Keep an eye on your bunny’s teeth to be sure they aren’t getting too long and consult your veterinarian if they are.
One of the best preventative measures you can take to ensure a longer life for your dwarf rabbit is to have them spayed or neutered. Both male and female rabbits, especially females, can develop fatal cancer in their reproductive organs at a (relatively) early age. It’s also a good idea to learn about some other common diseases and conditions your dwarf rabbit may develop and how to prevent and treat them.
Make sure your dwarf rabbit gets regular check-ups with a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to help you with any questions you have about keeping your dwarf bunny healthy for as long as possible. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations as far as what preventative healthcare your bunny needs.
Of course, if you are ever concerned that your bunny is sick, the faster you can get them to the veterinarian the better. Any illness or health concern can be very stressful for your dwarf rabbit and as we already discussed, stress is not good for bunnies.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest known rabbit lived to nearly 19 years old. While you shouldn’t necessarily expect your dwarf rabbit to survive for that record-breaking lifespan, living into their teenage years is not out of the question for them. Your dwarf rabbit’s genetics will factor into how long they live but you can do your part by providing excellent care and always following your veterinarian’s advice. If you do, chances are you and your dwarf rabbit will be able to enjoy many years together.
Featured Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.