What it’s like to have a bunny as a pet

I posted this photo on Instagram today, captioning it:

“For your daily dose of fluff.. Here’s #mochithebunz & I during a photoshoot for #clubpetsmag. Getting myself a Netherland dwarf bunny is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year!!! She gives affectionate kisses (licks on the face and nose) every single day.”

And someone asked… “Can you tell us what it’s like to have a bunny as a pet? Is it difficult to upkeep, etc?” and I thought it was a brilliant idea to share with you guys how my experience as a first time rabbit owner has been the past 9 months plus I’ve had Mochi as a companion!

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with my grey fluffball…. her name is Mochi. Read the blog post about the day I brought her home from the pet shop here.

I named her after the food item mochi because she was small, soft, round, pudgy and squishy… like a real mochi! She’s a Netherland Dwarf rabbit, the smallest of all rabbit breeds. She’s about a year old. As I’m typing this blog entry, she’s sitting on my lap!

Why did you decide to get a rabbit?

I didn’t really set out to buy a rabbit one day. I chanced upon her purely by coincidence. I had no interest in bunnies whatsoever before this. I like learning about animals through David Attenborough documentaries but I’m not too big on keeping them myself. It’s all the work involved that scares me off… I had a hamster named Pudding once, and after he passed I was pretty upset and decided I’m not suitable for pets because I get too emotionally attached. Well that thought completely went out the window when I saw Mochi at the pet store and fell in love with her! True love comes knocking on your door when you least expect it!

Are bunnies difficult to care for?

I would say with confidence…. No. Even though I’m not the one who cleans out her poop tray everyday (my domestic helper does that), other than that she doesn’t need much maintenance. Here’s why caring for rabbits is an easy thing!

• Bunnies are very clean animals.
They don’t need baths or special treatment of any sort. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves daily, and they do a great job at it! The only time I’ve ever needed to wipe her down with wet tissue was when I accidentally fed her oranges thinking it was okay, but she had diarrhea and that wasn’t a pretty sight. But on a normal basis, I don’t bother cleaning her at all and she does not feel, look or smell dirty in the slightest.

• Bunnies don’t stink.
You know how you go to someone’s house and they have a dog and their house smells like dog? Yeah…. you don’t get that with bunnies. Unless you’ve left their litter tray unchanged for too long, or if you feed them certain types of food…. then their pee / shit stinks! Mochi’s pee smells like crazy when I feed her alfalfa or corn treats so I’ve stopped doing that completely.

• Bunnies don’t take up too much of your time.
If you’re a busy person and cannot afford to give your pet exclusive hours of attention everyday but still want a companion in the house, bunnies would make a great choice! I always leave Mochi at home for the whole day and I don’t have to worry about her at all, as long as I make sure she has sufficient water and food while I’m gone. My bunny loves getting attention, but she’s perfectly fine doing her own thing without bothering me as well. Mochi gets free roam of the house when we’re at home but stays in her cage when we go out, because she gets up to too much mischief when we’re away! It’s not like she rips up furniture or anything too destructive, but she does love chewing on cables, chewing on my leather products, peeing on our beds…. And I don’t trust her enough to leave her to wreak havoc in the house while I’m gone, nor do I have enough “spare” space in the house for her to roam around in that isn’t already filled with stuff that can’t be moved. I know a lot of people recommend letting bunnies run around freely in their homes, but Mochi still bites on everything she can at almost a year old (despite having a lot of chew toys) and pees wherever she likes (even though she knows where her litter tray is and was litter trained before, she doesn’t care) AND jumps on all sorts of crazy ledges, so keeping her personality in mind, I decided it would be safest for her to stay in an enclosed area when humans aren’t around. Especially since her vision is impaired now.

When we do let Godzilla out about town… check out how crazy it gets!!!

• Bunnies don’t need special grooming.
Despite having abundant, luxuriously soft and thick fur…. I don’t need to bring her to the groomer’s to trim her fur because it grows out nicely! Doesn’t need dental care or any other care, either. Only thing I ever do for her is 1) Brush her fur coat from time to time although I don’t see any difference before and after so I only ever do it when I feel like it and 2) Trim her nails about once a month. Rabbits in the wild burrow in the dirt and ground all day, whereas most house rabbits have lost their natural instinct to dig, so their nails get amazingly long after awhile. If you don’t trim them, it hurts for the rabbit when they’re running about, and it hurts for the humans when they scratch you as well! Some people struggle with trimming their bunny’s nails, especially if that particular bunny hates being held and it’s very intimidating for the first few times because they’re such skittish, fragile little things that like to squirm a lot… but you’ll get used to it. Just gotta hold them firmly to show them who’s boss. You could always get someone else to trim their nails for you for around $10. (Note: This only applies to certain rabbit breeds. If you get a super long furred rabbit you’re obviously begging to go the groomer’s lol)

• Bunnies aren’t noisy.
They don’t bark incessantly. My neighbor has this dog I have vivid fantasies and dreams of murdering every so often. I can hear him barking at this very moment. He barks every single damn day, afternoon, and night. And the owner does nothing about his extremely LOUD barking dog at all. At first I wondered how the owner could remain sane when he lives in a house where his dog never shuts up, then I realized he’s hardly ever home at all.  He just leaves the windows wide open so that his fellow condo occupants may enjoy his dog’s daily music.. Scumbag. Here’s my theory. If you have an annoying dog that NEVER EVER EVER stops making a ruckus, smack it until it stops barking. Seriously. Or get a rabbit instead. Rabbits… ah, their true beauty is that they are amazingly silent creatures. A rabbit can be extremely difficult to find when they want to be hidden. They find the oddest corners of the house to hide in and they will lay there, being extremely still. Although silent, this does not mean they can’t express their feelings. They have different temperaments, moods, expressions just like every other animal. It’s just in very subtle ways, that take awhile to understand. When they’re upset, they grunt, lightly nip or thump their feet. A nasty rabbit might bite you, but I’ve not experienced that myself. Mochi has oddly never thumped her feet to show displeasure, either.

So what are the downsides of having a bunny?

Although I wouldn’t really call these real “downsides”, there are a few things regarding rabbits that may fall below certain people’s expectations of a pet. For example, bunnies are not like dogs. They may not follow you around the house or be extremely sticky (this did happen when Mochi was a baby.. it was the cutest thing, but eventually stopped when she grew up) so as great and adorable as bunnies may be at showing their affection by licking you and grinding their teeth to show contentment, their methods of communication are a lot less sophisticated than your dog. I’m using dogs as a comparison method, because, well dogs are the most common pets in the world. You can’t really bring bunnies out to play like you do with dogs. More often than not, bunnies hate going out of the house because they get stressed out by all the unfamiliar noises, scents and surroundings. As such, a rabbit isn’t the sort of pet you’d find someone walking at the park. (But I particularly like the fact that they do not need walks because I do not like walks too haha). Bunnies are also not great pets for children, or people who like to play rough. They’re a lot more difficult to pick up than dogs, and require gentle handling. Most friendly dogs will let you pick them up if you wanted to. But even the friendliest rabbit will kick or struggle if an inexperienced rabbit person tries to hold them, because they MUST be held at very specific ways in order for them to feel safe and secure enough to not try and run away. The truth is, most rabbits hate being held, mine is a really rare exception because she lets strangers hold her as well. A lot of other bunny owners have problems holding their own rabbits themselves. They aren’t easy to deal with because they have sharp nails and squirm a lot when they’re off the ground. I’ve heard stories of other bunnies having attitude problems (e.g refusing to interact with humans or acting aggressively for seemingly no reason) On the other hand, I am under the assumption that all dogs in this world love to play.

Bunnies also don’t play fetch, they don’t offer any real “services” to humans like dogs do…. They don’t jump on your bed to wake you up in the morning, they don’t bark when strangers come near your house, they certainly can’t help disabled people or anything of the sort.. so yeah, if you’re into that sort of thing, get a dog. But if you just wanna come home, put on a movie, stroke something warm and furry and feel it lick your face in recognition, feed it some treat as a reward and melt at its furry cuteness…. get a bunny.

Oh, one terrible thing I’ve learned about having rabbits is that… nobody really knows that much about them. They’re not as well-studied as dog anatomies are. If your rabbit falls sick, it’s going to be a pain trying to find a vet that can properly diagnose it in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Health wise, my rabbit hasn’t had any major health problem aside from her problematic eyes. She does have cataracts in both eyes (likely hereditary, read about it happening in this post) which means she’s almost completely blind with a tiny bit of sight left (to distinguish light source and maybe a bit of shadows). I had to travel to the other end of Singapore to visit the only eye specialist available in Singapore for rabbits, and then I was told the surgery would’ve costed thousands, with 30% chance of her dying on the operation table as advised by my vet. That single horrific diagnosis and check up that took 20 minutes of the vet’s time costed me $200 already. Obviously I didn’t get the operation done, knowing the risk involved..

Are bunnies costly?

Depending on the breed of rabbit you get and the pet store you buy your bunny from, the price of getting one can range greatly. They can be sold for as low as $50, and go up to over a thousand dollars. I got Mochi for $300, which is a great price, considering most pure bred Netherland Dwarfs are sold above $400. Don’t be tempted by really cheaply priced rabbits from dodgy pet stores because your rabbit may turn out odd looking. By odd looking, I mean it may grow to be extremely large when it was supposed to be a miniature rabbit or having extremely long ears when its ears are meant to be short. Or have strange bulgy eyes coming out of its sockets or something. I spend approximately $50 a month on food and bedding / other rabbit supplies for Mochi. Her diet consists of 80% dried Timothy Hay (grass in a bag), and the other 20% is a mixture of random fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs I happen to have in the fridge, and also rabbit-friendly treats from the pet store.

Mochi enjoying some fresh Parsley!

Her litter tray is changed daily (I use cat litter made out of paper), and her bottom cage litter is changed approximately every 2-3 weeks or until it starts to smell a little. I think I’ve spent a little over $3k on Mochi ever since getting her, including all supplies she’s used thus far. Keep in consideration that I’ve bought her a lot of nonsense…. like toys she doesn’t even bother with. Bunnies are happy with cheap, homemade toys (such as bottle caps, cardboard boxes etc). Actually, they don’t really even play with toys like dogs do. Mine finds the most joy just in stuffing her face with glorious food, just like her mama.

Why do you love having a Netherland Dwarf bunny for a pet?

Have you seen how fluffy my bunny is??? Dogs are great companions. I truly believe they are. I hope that some day, I’ll have one myself. I would like to run alongside with it on a nice beach, and throw something for it to fetch. But for now, a bunny is a great pet suited towards my lifestyle, for all the points mentioned above. In summary, they are

1) Fluffy 2) Adorable 3) Not too costly 4) Silent and non-intrusive and independent 5) Low maintenance What’s not to love about bunnies?

Mochi is a great little rabbit. She’s so friendly and harmless….. I think I hit rabbit lottery when I found her. It does not matter that she has cataracts and has lost her sight. She still loves running around and exploring, entertaining me and bringing me smiles and laughs every day! She makes me the happiest when I see her doing binkies (jumping and flicking her feet in the air animatedly) or when she randomly comes up to me and licks my face as affection. She brings me the simplest kind of joy in this world – an animal loving its human companion.

I also love when she hilarious licks her lips like crazy after she’d had some tasty, juicy mango.  MmmMmm, MANGO!

Netherland Dwarf, or Holland Lop?

There are two main types of popular rabbit breeds being sold in Singapore: Holland Lop, and Netherland Dwarf. I’m sure there are a lot more exotic and different breeds being sold in different countries and pet stores, but I’m only going to addresss the main 2 found in Singapore. Like I said before, I fell in love with Mochi herself and didn’t set out to get any particular breed, color, or type of rabbit. But if I were to buy another one, I would still go for a Netherland Dwarf over a Holland Lop for a few main reasons.

• Netherland Dwarfs are a lot smaller, and lighter than Holland Lops (or at least the pure bred ones are). Mochi is fully grown at around 1kg. I prefer my rabbits small… if you like big rabbis you can try a Flemish Giant :P

• Netherland Dwarfs have short, perky ears. Holland Lops have long, droopy ones. I think the droopy ears are extremely cute when they’re babies, however when they turn into adults it can make them tend to look kinda grumpy / disinterested. I like Mochi’s ears a lot because it tells me how she’s feeling. If they’re flat down, she’s resting or tired. If they’re all the way up and pointed forward, she’s alert or scared. If one’s up and one’s down…. she’s only half interested. And, her ears always perk up when I call her name. It’s adorable. You get the idea! It seems more responsive. But of course, there are extremely adorable Holland Lops out there I wouldn’t hesitate to adopt into my household for a second.

• Netherland Dwarfs are bred to be as round as possible. This means their faces, ears and body shape are more compact and ball-ish compared to Holland Lops. This gives the Netherland Dwarfs a more baby-ish appearance, even when they’re fully grown!

Well those are actually the only reasons I can think of. I think a mini lop would be awesome as well!


Hope some potential-bunny-owners out there have found this blog post useful!

I’ll be happy to answer any bunny-related questions based on my own experiences. This whole post as written based on my personal experience with Mochi, my Netherland Dwarf rabbit. I’m sure not all these facts apply to every other bunny owner or rabbit in the world. My bunny likes being cuddled, other rabbits hate being held. My bunny pees and poos wherever she likes all the time, other rabbits are extremely well toilet trained and only poop and pee in their designated litter tray. I believe every animal is different, and that stereotypes are easily broken when you analyze each individual. There’s no such thing as a “better” rabbit, just what you prefer and what suits you more. But one thing’s for certain… ALL baby bunnies are amazingly, jaw-droppingly, retardedly cute, no matter the breed, color, or size!!!! Everyone should cuddle a baby bunny at least once in their lives, even if it’s just for a minute or two at the pet store. Please put it on your bucket list. You’ll know why when you’re holding it in your arms. It’s the most precious thing in the world…. second only to holding your firstborn I guess?! Ok maybe not. But something like that. Pardon me, I haven’t had any babies yet, baby bunnies are the closest thing I’ve known to it.

A few years down the track I may have the post, “What it’s like to be a mother.”

Wouldn’t that be one post to wait for?