You don’t have to be an animal expert to appreciate a one-of-a-kind specimen like a Harlequin rabbit. Since it’s unique in coloration, a Harlequin is easily recognizable, and its bisected pattern is the ultimate prize in shows. With a personality as charming as their coat, they’re as desirable in the home as they are on the stage.
Bringing a Harlequin home is one of the most satisfying decisions you can make for the family. But raising a rabbit doesn’t come cheap. Initial costs aside, their ongoing care, food, and upkeep are unique among pets and can be considerably pricey. Getting a Harlequin Rabbit may cost you from $50 to $500 depending on the source and monthly costs can range from $50–$200. Read on to find out more in detail.
Bringing Home a New Harlequin Rabbit: One-Time Costs
Harlequin rabbits are relatively rare and can get expensive depending on their coat. The breed is unique in its color identification; the tell-tale bi-colored bands and bars supply definition. The ideal pattern is the alternating three-part frontal, a standard of perfection that commands the 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 will cost a few hundred dollars.
Finding a Harlequin 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. Websites like the House Rabbit Society, Adopt-a-Pet, and PetFinder are excellent places to start your search.
Adoption fees can range from free to over $200. Rabbits are also often only available in bonded pairs, so you may have to take in an extra if you find the perfect Harlequin for the home.
With 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit, now is an excellent time to adopt a Harlequin. Many shelters run specials to celebrate, helping you keep your costs as low as possible.
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. Depending on the age, size, and pattern, a Harlequin rabbit will generally run $50–$200, but show rabbits can exceed $500.
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.
List of Harlequin Rabbit Care Supplies and Costs
|Outdoor Hutch or Rabbit Run||$140–$900|
|Cage or Pen||$35–$140|
|Rabbit Grooming Kit (Brush, Nail Clippers, etc.)||$5–$30|
|Litter Box||$10–$100 per box|
|Toys||$5–$20 per toy|
|Food and Water Crocks||$10–$20|
How Much Does a Harlequin Rabbit Cost Per Month?
- $50–$200 per month
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.
- $40–$150 per month
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.
- $30–$70 per month
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.
- $0–$80 per month
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
- $5–$50 per month
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.
- $7–$25 per month
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.
- $10–$40 per month
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.
|Litter box liners||$20/month|
|Litter box liners||$10/month|
- $0–$50 per month
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. You can also get interactive puzzles and toys to turn snack time into playtime.
Bunny subscription boxes are an excellent idea if you want your rabbit to always have something fresh and intriguing. Binxbox, BunnieBox, and Happy Bunny Club are only a few of the online businesses that send a monthly box of random toys and treats to entertain your Harlequin. These services typically cost around $40–$60 per month for a single rabbit.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Harlequin Rabbit
- $50–$200 per month
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 your rabbit healthy. Unexpected vet bills are the priciest aspect of owning any animal. You can minimize your monthly investment by maintaining a healthy diet, grooming schedule, and pet insurance.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Emergency vet visits aside, one extra cost to consider is household damage. Harlequin rabbits and other small pets are constant chewers. Without adequate protection, they’ll nibble through chargers and power cords, ruin chair legs, and burrow in couch cushions. You can reduce damage by redirecting your rabbit’s habits toward something more suitable, but prepare for the random need to replace household items.
Owning a Harlequin Rabbit on a Budget
Owning a Harlequin rabbit can get costly if you want to spoil your bunny with the most expensive luxuries possible. But it can also be incredibly cheap if you’re willing to do some of the work yourself. You can find tons of DIY rabbit hutch and pen projects online. Meanwhile, your regular recyclables, like cardboard boxes, can often satisfy your rabbit’s bedding, chewing, and entertainment needs.
Saving Money on Harlequin Rabbit Care
- Use homemade rabbit cages, hutches, and hidey houses
- Buy supplies in bulk, keeping hay in a dry, dark, and well-ventilated area to make it last
- Use AutoShip and subscriber options to save money on recurring consumable purchases
- Repurpose cardboard and paper towel tubes to protect furniture and give your rabbit something to chew
- Grow your veggies or grass to save on monthly food costs
- Join online rabbit communities on social media and forums to find secondhand supplies
- Reach out to local farms for help getting inexpensive feed
Harlequin rabbits are as affectionate as they are attractive and an all-around joy to own whether or not you take them to shows. The best part is that they don’t have to be hard on the wallet. The average monthly expenses can exceed $200, but with research and a DIY attitude, you can give your Harlequin all the luxuries they deserve at a fraction of the typical cost.