Most owners know that rabbits are not cheap pets-- their medical care as exotic animals can add up, and they seem to love chewing on your most expensive items (clothes, furniture, equipment, etc.). However, there are several easy ways to reduce the costs of their daily care and manage your rabbit expenses more effectively.
Buying small bags of hay from commercial pet stores can get expensive fast! Buying hay directly from a farmer (check out or contribute to the national hay database) can cut costs way down. Ordering hay in 50 lb boxes online from farms is already a bargain compared to the small bags from pet stores, but taking a trip to a local farmer to buy a bale is really the way to go. A bale of Timothy hay, which can last several months, typically costs about $10.
Ask your local grocery store to collect their vegetable scraps for you. Grocery stores throw away tons of perfectly good veggies, including carrot, beet, and radish tops, or the outer layers of lettuces, cabbages, and other greens. Farmer's markets are also a fantastic source for free vegetables. Be sure to never use vegetables that look wilted or old and wash everything extra carefully. Another idea is to try growing your own mint (which grows like a weed), parsley or other herbs in your garden.
A little insider knowledge here can save you some big bucks! If you use Yesterday's News, buy the bags in the cat litter section, as they tend to be much cheaper per pound than the bags sold in the small animal section. Another economical option is to buy wood stove pellets from a hardware store (like Lowe's). A 40lb bag can cost you around $6, depending on where you live. Wood stove pellets are similar to Feline Pine litter, and work just as well, but are up to three times cheaper.
A litterbox is really just a plastic box, so why pay extra money for a fancy cat litterpan from a pet store, when you can grab a shallow plastic box from Walmart for half the price?
There are a lot of expensive bunny toys available, but it seems more often than not, rabbits just love playing with old fashioned toys that don't cost a cent, like cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls stuffed with hay, and cardboard tunnels or castles. Buying baby toys (like plastic keys on a ring, etc.) can be cheaper than a similar product sold in a pet store. Just make sure that the plastic is hard, and not the "teething" kind, which can be chewed and ingested.
And one thing not to skimp on...
There's a wide variety of pellets available, with a wide variety of price tags. You don't need to go for the most expensive bag out there, but you do need to make sure the first ingredient is Timothy hay, as opposed to Alfalfa. Alfalfa-based products tend to be cheaper, and you might have to pay noticeably more for the high-quality Timothy-based ones, but with all the money you've saved with the other techniques, this should be a fair trade off!
Graysie contemplating the various aspects of personal finance.