Rabbits are not inexpensive companion animals, especially in the city. But you don’t have to spend a fortune on everyday care to be a good bunny parent. Here are some ways to save money on bunnies and to plan for unexpected costs.
Tip #1: FREECYCLE
Get setup supplies and much more from your neighborhood freecycle sites. Buy Nothing Facebook groups for your area are a great option for playpens, carriers, water and food dishes, ceramic tiles, baby scales to weigh your bunny, washable floor rugs, and more!
Tip #2: BULK BUY (but don't hoard!)
Buy gallon jugs of distilled white vinegar for cleaning the litterbox (at Smart & Final, or occasionally in smaller quantities at other places such as the 99 Cent store). Get paper towels in bulk for cleaning. Buy hay by the bale or in bulk from the horse stables or feed stores to save big bucks on hay and litter. A bale of oat mix or Timothy hay costs from $11-13 and will last a long time. If you only have one or two bunnies, you will want to buy hay by the bag so it will be fresh; however, you can split a bale with other rabbit people.
Tip #3: COMPARISON SHOP
If you’ve ever bought rabbit food pellets at different stores, you know that the price can differ by a lot. Find out where to find your products at the lowest cost (don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas). But don’t switch pellets on your rabbit—she can get sick from a sudden change in diet. Find a healthy bunny pellet that you can afford and stick to it.
Tip #4: FIND ALTERNATIVE PRODUCTS
Go to discount stores where you can find big trays (or actual litter boxes) and food and water crocks. The concrete mixing tubs are large and inexpensive. Make sure the tubs or trays are made of hard plastic—you don’t want bunny to chew and swallow his box! Use distilled white vinegar when you clean the box and you’ll never have to replace it. Hardware stores may sell small pieces of linoleum to protect your floor.
Instead of buying an expensive litter, try pelleted wood litters made for horses or small animals. Wood pellets are extremely absorbent and they are relatively inexpensive–they come in 40-lb. bags. If you line your litter boxes with newspaper, you will only need to use a thin layer of stove pellets.
Tip #4: NETWORK
Get to know other people in your area who have rabbits. Once you see that they take good care of their bunnies, you can ask to exchange bunny-sitting services and help each other find deals on products for your bunnies.
Tip #5: BUY ONLY THE BASICS
If you’re on a strict budget, don’t buy bunny those pet store treats (not good for her, anyway!). Give her a small piece of carrot or fruit for a treat instead. Tempting as it is to buy toys for your bunny, you can make your own toys with untreated wood from a lumber yard, toilet paper rolls, or cardboard boxes.
Tip #6: SAVE FOR VET BILLS
Start a savings account for your bunny’s medical expenses. Veterinary care is one area where you really cannot skimp, but you can compare prices (politely) for specific procedures or medications.
Get your bunnies neutered!! This will save tons of money caring for the rabbits your rabbit will otherwise give birth to. Even if you have a single female rabbit, you will save money by getting her spayed now to prevent cancer. There is some financial help for low-cost bunny neuters; see our Low Cost S/N list.
Do research on veterinary care so that you avoid doing any unnecessary procedures or paying too much for medications. Ask your veterinarian if you can treat your rabbit at home instead of bringing bunny back in and paying for additional office visits. If you have several rabbits, consider joining an on-line rabbit group so that you can ask for advice from others who may have experienced the same problem with their rabbit(s). But don’t expect or ask your vet to give away her time for free. Veterinarians have to make a living, too.