Harlequin rabbits are captivating animals with a bisected pattern that is unique and easily recognizable. They are highly sought after for shows as their patterns are prized, but their charming personalities also make them a desirable family pet. However, owning a Harlequin rabbit can be expensive, with upfront costs, ongoing care, food, and upkeep being unique among pets.
Bringing Home a New Harlequin Rabbit: One-Time Costs
Harlequin rabbits are relatively rare and can be expensive depending on their coat. The ideal pattern is the alternating three-part frontal, which commands top prices. Aside from the initial purchase, rabbits will need early vet appointments and an initial round of vaccines. In the home, you’ll have to set them up with an enclosure, grooming equipment, and a slew of supplies to keep them safe and content. At the same time, you have to fortify the home against the destruction a bunny can bring.
Finding a free Harlequin rabbit isn’t easy unless you know someone with bunnies to spare. If you find one via social media or online forums, you’ll still have to handle the initial services, such as vaccines and spaying/neutering, which can cost a few hundred dollars. Finding a Harlequin rabbit for adoption is one of the most efficient and sensible routes to obtaining one. The initial costs aren’t much more than getting a free rabbit, as vaccines and desexing are often part of the deal.
Harlequins are much more challenging to find from breeders than popular varieties like Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarfs, and Flemish Giants. Meat and show breeders aren’t always willing to sell their animals as pets. The American Rabbit Breeder Association offers resources on breeders, but many registries aren’t up to date. Your best bet may be to call a local breeder for information on locating Harlequins in your area.
Initial Setup and Supplies
Harlequin rabbits demand necessities common to any pet, including a cage, food, chew toys, bowls, litter boxes, and grooming supplies. Due to their chewing habit, extra precautions like cord covers will be beneficial before bringing bunnies into the house. Hay is the foundation of the rabbit diet, and they’ll need pelleted paper as a soft, safe bedding material. If you plan on taking your rabbit outside, a hutch or run will be one of your most significant investments.
Monthly Maintenance Costs
After getting your rabbit settled in the home and outside, your monthly maintenance costs will go toward hay, pellets, food, litter, and cleaning supplies. Annual vaccines and vet visits are relatively low for a healthy rabbit. Unexpected costs, like boarding while you go on vacation, can add up, and it’s not always easy to find places that keep rabbits.
Harlequin rabbits are easy to manage and relatively inexpensive after you square away the initial setup. They’ll need an annual vet checkup and frequent grooming, but the primary portion of your monthly costs will go toward food. Keeping your rabbit healthy is crucial, as many common illnesses can be debilitating, highly dangerous, and expensive to treat.
The primary components of your Harlequin rabbit’s diet will be hay and vegetables. While alfalfa hay is appropriate for young rabbits, adults should have a lower-density diet of Timothy hay, oat hay, or orchard grass hay. They need a constant, unlimited supply of hay because it constitutes at least three-quarters of their diet. Although they aren’t a strict requirement, pellets work alongside your rabbit’s hay and veggies to complete a well-rounded diet. As a medium-sized rabbit, a Harlequin will eat roughly two cups of veggies, ¼ cup of pellets, and a bundle of hay about the size of their body (in volume, not weight). Depending on where you buy food, your rabbit will cost about $30–$70 monthly to feed.
Harlequin rabbits have a reputation as mild shedders and are easy to maintain. Weekly brushing is effortless at home. Nail trimming is a crucial task every few weeks, and areas around the eyes, ears, scent glands, and teeth will need regular checks and cleaning. A professional service package will run $20–$80 monthly.
Medications and Vet Visits
Rabbits have fewer vaccination requirements than dogs and cats, making them much less expensive at the vet when healthy. Vaccines generally weren’t a significant concern until recent years. With RHDV2 becoming more prevalent, vets now offer annual shots to prevent this fatal rabbit-specific disease. Unfortunately, there is no USDA-approved vaccine for Myxomatosis, another incurable and fatal infection. Other than the recurring RHDV2 booster, which may cost $25–$50, your Harlequin rabbit will need an annual checkup. Vets evaluate the rabbit’s diet and activity levels, check for worms, fleas, and other parasites, and examine their teeth. Malocclusion and other dental issues are particularly significant to rabbits, necessitating annual dental exams.
Pet insurance for a Harlequin rabbit costs roughly the same as insuring a cat. Coverage can be crucial when your rabbit suffers a serious injury or falls ill, helping you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Unlike standard health insurance, pet insurance requires you to pay up front, and the insurer reimburses you anywhere from 70%–100% of the vet bill. Monthly costs are nominal, starting at around $7.
Other than food and hay, the primary consumables for your Harlequin rabbit will be litter, chewing materials, and cleaning supplies. Many people use cheap distilled white vinegar for accidents around the house, but enzyme cleaners will likely yield the best results. No matter what you choose, budgeting about $40 a month should cover most, if not all, of your Harlequin’s needs.
Harlequin rabbits need chew toys and activities to stave off boredom and the destruction that soon follows. An obstacle course and spots to explore are some of the best gifts you can give your rabbit. Boxes with fill for them to dig and rummage through and spaces to hide will offer hours of satisfaction. Willow balls, apple wood sticks, and hay toys are popular options to promote healthy teeth. Bunny subscription boxes are an excellent idea if you want your rabbit to always have something fresh and intriguing.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Harlequin Rabbit
The initial costs are substantial when bringing a Harlequin rabbit home. Afterward, you can keep your costs low by being savvy with your food shopping and keeping an eye out for deals. Monthly maintenance costs vary depending on how you care for your rabbit, but you can count on it being anywhere from $50–$200 per month. It’s essential to become familiar with your rabbit’s needs, so you can ensure they have everything necessary for a happy and healthy life.