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Pet Rabbits and Sustainable Living


Living an eco-friendly life can come in many forms, right? And who would've thought my adorable pet rabbits would play a huge role in mine? Here's my quirky yet utterly real experience. Rabbits, from their sustainable plant-based diet, their natural pest control abilities, not to mention rabbit poo fertiliser, are definitely a sustainable pet worth considering.



Pet Rabbits and Sustainable Living, rabbit on grass with dandelions

Bunnies - More Than Meets The Eye


The journey to adopting my pet bunnies was an adventure that started out of sheer curiosity and eventually transformed into a deep-rooted love for these charming little creatures.


"Why bunnies?"


Well, the answer lies not just in their undeniable cuteness, but also in the surprisingly sustainable aspects of owning these lovely pets.


I have always been an animal lover, and adopting a pet was enticing. But as an advocate for sustainability, I also wanted a pet that aligned with my environmental values.


Ten years ago, I researched various pet options, exploring their lifestyles, maintenance needs, and potential environmental impact. At the time, I lived in an apartment, and a dog was not an option, but I also needed something highly eco-friendly.


Then I stumbled upon a video of a bunny nibbling on hay, its nose twitching cutely. This piqued my interest and led me to delve deeper into the pros and cons of owning a bunny.


I discovered that rabbits are herbivores; their diet primarily consists of hay, grass, and some vegetables. This meant that I could sustainably source their food locally, reducing the carbon footprint compared to pets that eat commercial meat-based foods. They were also highly suited to my small space.



I was intrigued by the potential of rabbit manure as a fantastic compost material, as living in an apartment meant having a vegetable garden was restricted to in pots only. I learned that their droppings are packed with nutrients and can be easily composted and used as a natural, chemical-free fertilizer for my garden.



This not only would help me manage waste but also improve the health and productivity of my garden.



Fast forward a decade later, and I have (one of the) same rabbits and they’ve made my vegetable garden an actual vegetable garden.



Note: The breed of the rabbit matters. I researched and found breeds that adapt well to local climate, ensuring they thrive naturally without excessive resources. That’s why I settled on my beautiful Netherland Dwarfs.


Rabbit enjoying a sunny day on the grass
Netherland Dwarf Rabbit (Image source: Wikipedia, Aaron Van Dyken )


The Magic of Bunny Poo


Yep, you read it right! Bunny poo is the unsung hero of my sustainable journey. Can you imagine fertilizer from fluffy bunnies powering a whole vegetable garden? That’s basically what I do – and it works.



Transforming Rabbit Poo into Garden Gold


It's quite surprising to most when they first hear it, but bunny droppings are a garden's best friend. These little brown nuggets are a treasure trove of nutrients that can boost your soil's health and, by extension, your plants' vitality.


Rabbit manure is commonly called "cold manure," meaning it can be directly applied to the soil without initial composting. However, to ensure a safer and more efficient nutrient cycle, I compost the droppings before using them in my garden.


But what exactly makes bunny droppings so good for the soil? Here's the scientific part: rabbit droppings are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the three primary nutrients required for plant growth.



trowel and soil fertiliser

Nitrogen is an essential element that helps plants produce the proteins they need to grow strong and healthy. It's the main component in creating the lush, green foliage that is often associated with a thriving garden.


Phosphorus, on the other hand, is instrumental in helping plants convert other nutrients into usable building blocks. It's particularly vital for root development and promoting flowering and fruiting.


Lastly, potassium aids in the plant's overall functions, helping regulate water and nutrient movement. It plays a significant role in disease resistance, drought tolerance, and overall plant hardiness.



I regularly collect my bunnies' droppings and add them to my compost bin, along with other compostable materials like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and leaves. The manure not only contributes to its nutrient richness but also introduces beneficial microbes that aid in the decomposition process. After a few weeks, this mixture transforms into a dark, rich compost teeming with nutrients.


dwarf rabbit in the garden


Other Sustainable Practices and Benefits with Pet Rabbits



Sustainability doesn't stop at manure. Bunnies offer more eco-friendly benefits! Indeed, the eco-friendliness of having pet bunnies extends way beyond their manure. These little creatures offer an array of green benefits that contribute significantly towards leading a sustainable lifestyle.


First, let's talk about their diet. Bunnies are herbivores, which means their food consumption is based on plant materials.


Their primary diet consists of hay, fresh vegetables, and a small portion of pellets. This plant-based diet has a much lower environmental impact compared to meat-based diets of many other pets.


It means less land is required for farming, less water is consumed, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions are produced. Furthermore, I can grow a part of their food myself, or buy from local farmers, thereby reducing the carbon footprint even further.




Bonus Sustainability Points


Let's not forget the amazing contribution of bunnies in natural pest control. Rabbits are prey animals, and their presence can deter many common garden pests like rats and mice. While not foolproof, it is a form of integrated pest management that reduces the need for synthetic chemical pesticides, promoting a healthier and more balanced ecosystem in my backyard.



Plus, their grooming habits also contribute to the sustainability factor. Rabbits are inherently clean animals and do not require frequent water-intensive baths. Their self-grooming behaviour helps conserve water, and they rely less on chemically-formulated grooming products.



Finally, owning pet rabbits also promotes sustainability more subtly and profoundly - by cultivating empathy and respect for life. Through caring for my bunnies, I've gained a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of living in harmony with nature. This, in turn, has motivated me to pursue a more sustainable lifestyle in all aspects, from reducing waste to conserving energy and beyond.



Rabbits provide a wealth of opportunities to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Their contribution to an eco-friendly life extends beyond the immediate benefits, fostering an environmental consciousness that can make a significant difference in the long run.


Plus, I feed my bunnies home-grown veggies and locally sourced hay. Cutting down the carbon footprint and keeping them healthy - two birds with one stone, eh?




Bunny in the garden



Final Note


Living an eco-friendly life with my pet bunnies has been a journey full of learning, surprises, and joy. They've taught me to leverage everyday opportunities for sustainability and created a green ripple effect around me. Bunnies might be small, but their potential for eco-friendly living is enormous!




FAQs


Is it safe to use Rabbit poo as manure?

Yes, as long as it's properly composted to kill potential pathogens, it's safe and very beneficial for the garden.


Can all Rabbit breeds be sustainable pets?

While all bunnies have potential, it's best to choose a breed that thrives naturally in your local climate for maximum sustainability.


What diet ensures healthy Rabbit poo for composting?

A diet rich in unlimited hay, vegetables, and a small portion of pellets is recommended.


Are Rabbits high maintenance pets?

While they require attention and care, the joy and sustainability benefits they bring make it worthwhile.


Can Rabbits really control pests in the garden?

Yes, their presence can deter certain pests, but don't rely solely on them for pest control.




About the Author: Zoey Seaforth is a sustainably minded writer, animal advocate and is obsessed with rabbits in particular. She runs Pets Foundry blog as a side hustle, providing insights, tips and guidance on how to care for exotic and small pets.


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