A bunny’s life is very different from human life. But owners often like it anyway, and it can be useful to know how old your bunny would be in human years.
Baby bunnies have a high cuteness factor. But bunnies are only very, very short babies. The first 4 weeks of their life. In those first weeks, they are very dependent on the care of the littermates’ mother and warmth.
Then begins a period comparable to toddlerhood, a time when the bunnies really start to discover the world, drink less and less milk, eat more and more normal food and learn a lot from each other. This period lasts until the age of 12 weeks. When a bunny is old enough to leave the nest, that is, from the age of 8 weeks, baby time is already well over.
Fortunately, because from that moment on they often have to be able to live independently and alone! Although we certainly recommend that young bunnies are also housed for as long as possible, or else again as soon as possible together with a conspecific. They still learn a lot at this age.
What many bunny owners don’t realize is that bunnies can also see puberty. Pretty much even! Bunnies in the wild have a short life, and reproduction is a huge part of that short life. Our pet bunnies have those hormones in their bodies too. Adolescent bunnies aren’t always fun.
It can differ a bit per bunny when this behavior starts. Bunnies of large breeds are often a little later than small breed bunnies. Hormonal behavior is also strongest in the spring period.
Bunnies are fertile from 12 weeks of age. Uncastrated rams must then have been removed from does. A ram can be neutered from 12 to 16 weeks. Only in the third week after castration (i.e., after more than 14 days!), The ram can be fed back to the nurse.
Bunnies develop a variety of territorial behaviors during puberty. They will use their scent glands and the “chin” objects to mark them as “mine.” They urinate and tinker to give off a scent.
There are also scent glands near the anus that give off an extra scent—anything to indicate that the terrain where they live is theirs. Unneutered bunnies, both do, and rams can also spray to mark their territory. The urine can certainly also end up against the walls! But everything in the territory must also be marked. In this period, bunnies that are loose in the house often also pee on things that have your smell, such as the bed and the sofa. Or your lap.
Rams that are not neutered often ride everywhere. On toys, on objects, on your feet. On the cat. On everything that is nearby.
If you have outdoor bunnies, you will often be less bothered by them because the enclosure they walk in is not in your own living and living space.
It can get filthy, and the driving can be really annoying. For many bunny owners, this stage of life is the time to decide that the bunnies move from inside the house to the garden.
Therefore, it will come as no surprise to you that most bunnies at shelters are abandoned at about 8 months of age—the period when they are in full puberty. Keeping bunnies was not what the owners expected; it involved too much work, too dirty. Unfortunately, the bunnies, or often unfortunately even the (lonely) bunny, cannot stay.
In puberty, the characters of the bunnies are developed. Young bunnies are often easy to put together and seem to be very sweet together. But in puberty, as the characters develop, it may turn out that they really cannot go through the same door together anymore. Therefore, it may be that your couple falls apart during this period and that they really can no longer live together.
Keep this in mind when starting with bunnies.
Of course, young bunnies from bunny shelters also deserve a house. If such a couple goes wrong during puberty, the shelter is always willing to help look for a solution (usually there or making 2 separate couples, then you have 4 bunnies, or relinquish one bunny and “trade” it for a partner with whom it clicks). Annoying, but sometimes unfortunately necessary to ensure that bunnies do not come to live alone. And that is the most important.
Depending on the bunny’s size, a bunny is mature between 8 months and 1 year old. The characters are formed, the adolescent behavior decreases. Now you really see what kind of bunnies you have brought into your home.
Elderly bunnies or senior bunnies
The moment a bunny is ancient, elderly, or senior also depends on the bunny’s size. The substantial breeds such as Flemish giants and French lop-eared are already senior from 4 to 5 years. Usually, these bunnies do not become older than about 8 years old.
The small and medium-sized bunnies, however, can become much older. From the age of 6, you can start seeing the first senior signs. The average age of a small/medium bunny is about 7 years. But there are outliers! The oldest bunny even turned 24 years old!