Changes to a families budget can happen at any time, and the last thing a responsible bunny parent wants to do is give up their favourite bun because they can’t afford to keep them anymore. Raising a rabbit can be as expensive as you let it be, but, truth be told, rabbits are not difficult creatures to keep happy. Here are some ways to save money while on a tight budget.
This is the first place you may think of to save money on rabbits, and you are probably right! Bunnies do need a lot of different stimulating objects to keep them busy during the day, but that doesn’t mean they have to be the expensive ones from the toy store. Paper tubes from your toilet paper or paper towel are excellent edible toys and can also be shaped into different shapes (and if you ask your friends and family to collect them for you, you will have a plethora very quickly).
If you or anyone you know does some handy work, left over wood ends can be given alone or nailed together to a larger board to provide some chewing. Digging can be done on an old phone book and they seem to love to rip the pages out.
Do you already have a bunch of expensive toys? Hide them away for a couple of months then bring them back out, your buns will think they are new and fun again. Rotate toys frequently and your buns will never notice the difference. I also put a bunch of our bun’s toys into a basket on a step whenever I vacuum and then they can pull out which ever toy interests them that day. It also helps to keep the floor clear. Twigs from your local apple tree will also be a hit.
We bought some small wooden boxes and shelves for our bunnies at the local craft store and made logic toys for them by hiding treats in them. The wood was unfinished and very inexpensive, and it’s a great trick to show off for guests too.
If you do decide to buy rabbit toys, try looking online at retailers devoted to rabbits instead of the local pet stores. You will find toys that are cheaper and are designed to keep your bun healthy and busy. Pet store treats and toys are not always the best when you really look at the ingredients.
This is the one place you really should continue to buy the best. Having a rabbit pellet that is low in protein and high in fiber (we use Oxbow Essentials) is important for keeping your rabbit healthy. Money can be saved here by looking at your portions. Pellets should not be the biggest part of your rabbit’s diet, which should be hay and fresh greens. Make sure you are feeding your rabbit the right amount of pellets each day and that you are sealing the bag properly to avoid the food spoiling.
Feeding your rabbits fresh greens can get expensive depending on the size and number of rabbits you have. If you live in a colder climate like we do, shop around for deals on lettuce (romaine always seems cheapest) and herbs (parsley is usually pretty cheap).
I also recommend growing your own if you can. I have even seen people grow herbs in their bunnies areas so that the bunnies can enjoy at their leisure. During the summer months, we grew lettuce in our small garden and it was a great way to save money. Every morning the rabbits would get fresh lettuce picked from the garden, and the occasional raspberry leaf or dandelion, and they loved it. Lettuce is super easy to grow (so are raspberries, they are a weed after all), even for those without a green thumb. We also grew carrots which were popular for the carrot and the carrot top.
Never skimp on hay for your bun, having nice fresh smelling hay is essential. You can try talking to a local farmer to see if perhaps you can raid their stash, as you won’t really require all that much.
Shop around for deals on litter. Most bunny parents probably use the Yesterday’s News product which I find expensive at the local pet store but $5 cheaper at Walmart. Watch for coupons too which can save you money.
Our buns are free range so they have the run of most of the upper level of our house and so don’t really use much bedding. We tried using the fluffy bedding you are encouraged to buy at the store when we first got a bun but she seemed to hate it and switched to putting down cheap rugs (check your local liquidation store) and old towels. If you are anything like me, you have a few towels that really have seen better days, or talk to your friends and family. They are easy to wash when there is an accident and can be used to sleep on, cover hiding spots or line tunnels.
Our buns love their treats and would surely nip my heels if I neglected to mention how to keep a bun truly happy. Our buns love Craisins which are sold in pretty large bags that will last you months (don’t give them too many, just on rare occasions as they do have sugar). Dried apples, bananas and other fruit are typically cheaper when you look at the ones designed for humans and usually don’t contain the horrible chemicals the pet food ones do, just watch for added sugar.
The key to having a bunny on a budget is to get creative with what you already have around the house. Look at things from the perspective of your bun, or ask your kids who may think outside the box. What your buns will enjoy most is the adventure of it all and you spending time with them.
About Elise Sommer: I am Elise, proud bunny Mom to Coffey (2 year old female Netherland Dwarf) and Mocha (1.5 year old female Mini Rex)
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