Did you know that in the wild, rabbits will often live only as long as 1 or 2 years? Sadly, it’s true; because of their status as prey animals and sensitive immune and digestive systems, the outside world can be particularly harsh for a wild rabbit.
Rabbits kept as pets indoors, on the other hand, can easily lead a happy life of anywhere between 5 and 12 years on average. The oldest living rabbit, Mick, is currently an astonishing 16 years old.
What keeps these rabbits feeling young and healthy even into old age? Three major things contribute to the length of an indoor rabbit’s life:
So if you’re looking for a pet rabbit to keep you company for many years to come, this article will give you a complete rundown of the longest living rabbit breeds: 7 small breeds that have been known for their long, healthy lives. Without further ado, let’s look at these remarkable breeds:
The 7 Longest Living Rabbit Breeds:
Perhaps the smallest of any rabbit breed without dwarf genetics, the Himalayan’s origin is something of a mystery. Unlike other small rabbit breeds, they have a generally laid-back, docile nature that predisposes them to good health throughout their entire life. When spayed or neutered and given proper exercise and nutrition, they can easily live 10 years or more.
2. Holland Lop
Easily recognizable by their linebacker-like builds, these miniaturized bruisers are one of the top three most popular rabbit breeds in the United States. Small and easy to care for, they make loving and affectionate pets and are known for their high-spirited natures. They can live to be up to 12 years old, though an average age is closer to 8.
3. Jersey Wooly
Descended of a variety of dwarf breeds mixed with Angoras and Chinchillas, the Jersey Wooly has all the makings of a long-living rabbit breed. Small and mellow, they are affectionate and love to be groomed. With proper care for their particularly fluffy coats and a healthy, balanced diet, Jersey Woolies can live as long as their other dwarf counterparts (8-12 years).
A recent invention, the Lionhead is a cross between an unknown “bearded rabbit” from Belgium and a wide variety of smaller breeds including the Netherland Dwarf. Lynn M. Stone, in her book “Rabbit Breeds: The Pocket Guide to 49 Essential Breeds” cites their “generally winning temperament and adaptable nature” as key to their popularity. These same qualities often encourage long life spans of 8-12 years.
5. Mini Rex
With their unbelievably plush fur and agreeable natures, all Mini Rexes come from the same stock: a pair of dwarf Rex rabbits won in a 1986 raffle. Rarely exceeding 5 pounds, they are an incredibly popular low-maintenance rabbit breed, renowned for their loving and devoted natures. Properly cared for, it is not uncommon for Mini Rexes to live between 8 and 12 years.
6. Netherland Dwarf
If the Netherland Dwarf were a larger rabbit, its sometimes overly energetic nature (that sometimes crosses into outright aggression) might be overwhelming. As it stands though, this exceptionally small breed is hardly large enough to do any damage to itself or others. This active temperament seems to suit many owners just fine, as it is one of the three most popular breeds of rabbit available today. Expect them to live anywhere between 7 and 12 years.
Only taking a quick look, you could easily mistake the Polish for a Netherland Dwarf: Both are small, compact rabbits with perky ears, available in a wide variety of colors. This is where the similarities end, though; with a different genetic heritage, the Polish is much more docile and relaxed than the spunky Dwarves. Lifespans of between 8 and 12 years are common in this breed.
Final Thoughts on the Longest Living Rabbit Breeds
No one can predict how long a rabbit will live with complete accuracy. By choosing smaller rabbits, having them spayed or neutered, and paying close attention to their nutrition and exercise, you can ensure that you and your rabbit friend will spend as many happy years together as possible. Whether you’re a first-time rabbit owner or experienced caretaker, we wish you many years of rabbits to come!
Featured Image Credit: COULANGES, Shutterstock