A little over a year ago, I got a text from my mother. It read: “I have a question to ask you. Don’t say no.” I replied with a no, of course, because I’m such a sweetheart. She ignored me and asked it anyway – she wanted to know if we’d be interested in taking in a half-grown rabbit from a woman who couldn’t keep it anymore.
After a lot of deliberation and several conversations with my husband, I decided that we could take in the bunny. Her name was Maggie, and my girls fell in love with her instantly. Since having Maggie, I’ve realized that while rabbits are uncommon pets, they really make great additions to the household.
6 Reasons for Raising Rabbits
Here are a few compelling reasons to have rabbits in your household:
1. They produce great compost.
One thing rabbits are very good at is making fertilizer. That’s a pretty way to say it, really.
There are a few different ways to use rabbit waste in your garden. You can use the pellets they produce as fertilizer, or you can compost it first. I’ve even seen rabbit pellets sold in jars at homesteading fairs before!
2. Raising rabbits for meat.
Our rabbit is a pet. She has always been a pet, and she will always be a pet. But if you’re looking for an animal that can make a big contribution to your homestead, you should consider rabbits as a meat source. They are small, take much much less food and space than cattle or pigs, and they multiply like…rabbits.
(I’m pretty sure I could never do this. But I do think it’s a really practical, reasonable way to produce meat for your family.)
NOTE from Matt & Betsy: We apologize if butchering/eating meat is offensive to you, but DIY Natural is not a vegetarian/vegan website, so please do not leave comments about how it is cruel, etc. Thank you.
3. Kids love them and can learn responsibility.
Our rabbit lives inside, and that’s great for us. My daughters, at three and five years of age, are almost totally responsible for her. They feed her and give her water, bring her treats during the day, and play with her. There’s little chance of the rabbit hurting them or escaping, and they’re learning to take care of an animal. If we wanted to make a real hobby out of rabbit-keeping, our kids could eventually show the rabbits with a 4-H club, too.
4. Rabbits as pets, they aren’t messy as many small pets.
Did you know that rabbits can be litter-box trained? Our rabbit has a litter-box in the corner of her cage, and as long as we clean it regularly, she always goes in there. That’s great because it is a simple process to collect the compost material, it is easy to keep her cage clean, and she has an easy time keeping herself clean, too. Having had hamsters and guinea pigs as a child, I can say that the rabbit’s cage doesn’t smell nearly as bad as other small, indoor pets’ cages do.
5. They eat vegetable scraps.
I buy celery fairly often for recipes like soup and chicken stock, but no one in my house eats much celery by itself. We get to use the extra stalks for rabbit treats. Same with flimsy carrots, brown-spotted apples, and wilted kale. It’s hard to throw food like that in the compost, but it’s nice to be able to share the food with our pet (who will eventually turn it into compost, anyway!).
6. You can turn their fur into fiber.
This is not something that I personally have experience with, but there are several breeds of rabbits that produce enough hair that they’re considered fiber animals. There are a few different types of angora rabbits, and their wool can be harvested and spun just like sheep’s wool. Again, you’re getting the benefits of a much larger animal without the cost and necessary space.
We sort of lucked into this whole rabbit-owning thing, but I’m always glad that we did. I’m not sure we’ll take it further than having one rabbit as a pet, but I like knowing there are many benefits if we choose to do so.
Do you have rabbits on your homestead? Have you enjoyed raising them? Share about your experience in the comments!