How Long Does a Domestic Rabbit Live?

If kept safely indoors, your spayed or neutered domestic rabbit should live at least 7 years and may live to age 12. Most larger breeds are calmer and easier to cuddle, but don't live as long as smaller breeds. Keeping your rabbit outdoors will typically cut his life expectancy in half. Even if he is in a predator-proof hutch or cage, rabbits scare easily, and can scare themselves into a heart attack if they see a predatory animal. They are also vulnerable to extreme weather conditions outdoors.

Two friends holding cute rabbit
Rabbits are too delicate and high maintenance to have their care left entirely to children.
credit: amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images

Dangers to Rabbits

Predators and inclement weather are not your rabbit’s only dangers; well-meaning humans can also spell trouble. Learn the proper way to carry and hold a rabbit, and supervise any children who scramble to get near him. A simple drop to the floor can break your rabbit’s legs or even his back. Rabbits are easy to litter-box train, but he can’t safely use the litter formulas that many cat owners use -- the clay can irritate his respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and pine or cedar shavings can cause liver issues. Line the litter box with shredded newspapers and hay instead. Use caution when introducing him to other rabbits or other household animals, and never leave him alone outside, even in a fenced area.

Breed and Longevity

As of 2014, the American Rabbit Breeders Association recognized 47 unique rabbit breeds, divided into several classes: dwarf, small, medium, large and giant, as well a additional classes based on coloring and texture. Unless you plan to show your rabbit, breed is largely a personal preference, although larger breeds don’t typically live as long -- about five or six years -- while smaller breeds tend to be more nervous and jittery. The Mini Lop dwarf breed is one exception to this temperament trait, making it a popular pet choice, with an average lifespan of five to 10 years.

Keeping Your Rabbit Healthy

Get acquainted with your bunny's behavior and habits; if you notice any deviations, such as in his bathroom behaviors, take him to your veterinarian immediately. As prey animals, rabbits hide illnesses and injuries so they don’t attract predators. Get yearly check-ups to ensure continued good health, and don’t overfeed, particularly treats high in sugar and calories. Note, too, that an unspayed female will likely die by age 4 of uterine cancer.