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You're at the pet store with your family when your child finds it - a rabbit sitting amongst it's siblings in a well lit display. Your child begs and pleads until you finally submit that they can "hold it for just a minute" before you head home.

It's soft, incredibly so, and it's floppy ears and tufted tail beg the question, how much work can it really be? Well, let’s take a look:

1. Initial Investment

While rabbits themselves don’t seem like a lot of money (most pet store bunnies sell for around $25-40), you’ll need to factor in how much you’ll pay in supplies. A basic ground cage will cost about $50 but a nice rabbit hutch with a rabbit ramp and enclosed house can run upwards of $130.

You’ll also need food bowls, a clip-on water bowl (trust me, as much as they spill you don’t want to get one that you set on the floor of the cage), salt licks, food, bedding and chew toys. That $40 rabbit can easily cost you $200 before you’re out the door! And we haven’t even mentioned a pet carrier or the vet bill. . .

2. Housing

You also need to keep their living quarters at a comfortable temperature. If it is an outdoor rabbit, make sure it has a box or shelter that it can access to stay out of weather. If you live in an extremely cold climate, you can install heaters to keep the rabbit warm. If you live in a warm climate, adding a slab of granite or a frozen water bottle for your rabbit to lay on will help it cool off.

Rabbits can be territorial and should never be housed in pairs if they have not been properly bonded (especially if they aren’t fixed). However, if a pair of rabbits is the same gender, have grown up together and you have adequate space for them, housing them together should be fine. At the first sign of fighting you should separate them.

3. Feeding

A balanced diet should consist of leafy greens, hay, and a limited amount of pellets. Alfalfa is good for younger rabbits but should be used sparingly (if at all) with older rabbits as it can lead to obesity. NEVER feed your rabbit lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, parsnips, dandelion stems or nuts of any kind. You’ll need to give it fresh water daily and make sure it’s living quarters are clean.

4. Care

Since their teeth continue to grow, treats and other wooden toys are a necessity to help the rabbit keep its teeth worn down to a reasonable length. You will need to occasionally brush the rabbit as it sheds it’s coat and trim its nails.

If the rabbit enclosure doesn’t have enough room for the rabbit to exercise, you will need to let it out to stretch it’s legs and stay fit. They can be difficult to catch, so I’d recommend using a rabbit leash or putting it in a fenced, escape-proof area. Always be on the lookout for predators!

Supervision is always needed when children are around. Rabbits usually aren’t accustomed to being held. One kick from their powerful back legs can scratch a child or injure the rabbit itself. Make sure the child holds it gently and knows where the rabbit is comfortable being petted. Rabbits are curious creatures and may sometimes ‘nip’ or bite to investigate, so watch your fingers!

5. Lifespan

For being such small creatures, rabbits live a long time (average of 9-12 years). That’s over a decade of feeding, cleaning, and caring for this rabbit.

If after all this, the little rabbit sounds like the perfect pet for your family then by all means, take Floppy home with you. He or she will reward you with love, laughs and snuggles for a decade to come! Of course be certain to check your local animal shelter, as there are plenty of lovable homeless bunnies waiting for their forever homes.

Aubrey Phelps is a writer for Simplepetcare.com, a site that offers information on all things pets. She has loved pets all her life and currently owns a chiweenie named Ollie and a cat named Ginger.

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