Fact checked

Can a Rabbit be an Emotional Support Animal?

Author
Kristi Carignan
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February 2, 2024
June 26, 2023
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6 minute read
Updated By
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Expert Reviewed By:
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June 26, 2023
August 18, 2021
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6 minute read
Updated By
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Any pet that provides you with emotional support for your mental health disability can qualify as an ESA. Speak with a licensed mental health professional to make your rabbit an ESA with Pettable today.

If you are looking for an emotional support animal (ESA), you may have asked ‘can a rabbit be an emotional support animal?.’ In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about emotional support animals and explore the myriad of benefits that rabbits can bring to your life. Known for their curiosity, intelligence and affectionate nature, rabbits are a great choice when it comes to ESAs.

Here is everything you need to know about rabbit emotional support animals.

Can a Rabbit Be an Emotional Support Animal?

Yes, rabbits can be excellent emotional support animals (ESAs). With their gentle nature and ability to form strong bonds, rabbits provide comfort and companionship to individuals facing emotional challenges. ESAs offer emotional stability and support, and many people find solace in the affectionate presence of a rabbit. However, it's important to consult with a mental health professional to determine if a rabbit is suitable for your specific needs as an emotional support animal.

What are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (or ESAs) for short, are any domesticated breed of animal that provides its handler with therapeutic support for a mental or emotional disability. The physical presence of these animals brings comfort, calm, motivation, routine and enhanced daily functionality to their owners lives. Rather than being seen as pets, ESAs are seen as medical assistance animals. They have specific rights relating to the Fair Housing Act.

While they are not recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unlike service animals, they do provide much mental and emotional support. This fact differentiates them from traditional pets. The ADA details and protects many disability rights.

What Animals Can Be Emotional Support Animals?

Any domesticated animal breed can be an ESA. Popular ESAs include dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, pigs, miniature horses, llamas and even reptiles like bearded dragons.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, only dogs are classified as service animals. They must be individually trained to perform a specific task that relates to the owner’s disability. The ADA protects the rights of service dogs and owners with physical, psychiatric, sensory and intellectual disabilities.

Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Rabbit

So, why might someone want a rabbit as an ESA? Well, rabbits can be hugely curious and loving creatures who show their owners affection in many different ways. If you get your rabbit when it’s still little, you can train it to get used to human touch and cuddles. Domesticated rabbit companions can enhance mental health conditions by showing affection and love and offering their owners motivation and routine.

Since they are so small, they also work well for apartment living and can be trained to become house bunnies who roam your home freely.

Here are some benefits of rabbit ESAs:

  • Reduce Anxiety: Spending time with an ESA can significantly reduce anxiety and bring handlers back to the present moment. The act of stroking your ESA rabbit can bring many calming and therapeutic effects and be incredibly grounding for those struggling with anxiety. Stroking your pet can quickly bring you back to the present moment. 
  • Relieve Stress and Depressive Symptoms: ESAs have been shown to relieve the symptoms of stress and depression by lowering cortisol levels (known as the stress hormone). They can bring about feelings of joy, relaxation and calm.
  • Reduce Loneliness: Spending time with your rabbit ESA can make you feel less alone. These small companion animals offer huge amounts of companionship and show their love by snuggling, nuzzling, or gently nibbling you.
  • Improve Sleep Quality: Animals can significantly improve sleep quality by offering security and reassurance to their owners. If you’re looking for blissful, stress-free sleep, your ESA bunny may be the answer. 

How Do You Qualify for an Emotional Support Rabbit?

To qualify for an emotional support animal of any domesticated species you need a special medical letter from a licensed mental health practitioner in your state. This letter is much like a prescription and proves that the animal is required for your wellbeing. To qualify, the animal’s presence must alleviate mental and emotional health symptoms.

How to Get an Emotional Support Rabbit

If you are looking for an emotional support rabbit for emotional and housing reasons, it’s best to go to a reputable bunny rescue organization or a legitimate breeder. If you can rescue an animal in need, that’s always a wonderful option and will naturally boost those feel-good feelings knowing you’ve done some good.

Once you have got your rabbit, we can help you to get an ESA letter in a few easy steps.

Take Our Assessment

Take our quick online assessment so we can figure out your exact needs.

Consult with a Licensed Mental Health Professional in Your State

We’ll connect you to a licensed therapist in your state. Attend a brief consultation and share details of your condition and how your ESA supports you and offers therapeutic benefits.

Receive Your ESA Letter

Once you have attended the consultation, you will receive your official ESA letter within 24-48 hours. If for some or other reason you are unsuccessful, we will happily refund you the money. Working with us is a risk-free way to get your ESA letter.

What Is Your ESA Letter Legally Required To Have

ESA letters are legally required to contain a few important things, including:

  • The official letterhead of your mental health provider
  • A statement about your disability and ESA qualification
  • License and contact information for your clinician (Remember, they must be licensed in your current state.).

Where Can You Go With Your Emotional Support Rabbit?

  • Housing: Under the Fair Housing Act, owners with ESAs are protected and landlords must make reasonable accommodations for them. 
  • Flights with select airlines : Certain airlines may allow ESA animals. However, this is at their discretion. Always call the airline in advance to check their specific policy. 
  • Some hotels: Some pet-friendly hotels may accept your ESA. Call ahead to ask their specific policy on animals and breeds.
  • Some public places: ESAs might be able to join you at pet-friendly stores and certain public spaces. Chat with the establishment in advance. 

Emotional Support Rabbits vs Psychiatric Service Animals

ESAs provide huge psychological benefits, but they are a bit different to psychiatric service animals (PSAs). Psychiatric service animals are recognized as dogs under the ADA and must be trained to perform a specific function related to the owner’s disability. ESAs can be any domesticated breed and do not necessarily perform specific tasks. They do however provide comfort.

Are Rabbits Good Emotional Support Animals?

Yes. Rabbits are social, affectionate, intelligent and loving. By investing time into their training, they can be incredible ESAs.

Can a Landlord Refuse an Emotional Support Rabbit?

Generally speaking, landlords cannot refuse an official ESA letter. Nonetheless, there are a few exceptions including illegitimate letters, a letter written by a professional outside your state and animals who pose a threat to others.

Meet the author:
Kristi Carignan
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Kristi Carignan is a seasoned freelance writer with over 20 years of experience crafting copy for global agencies and brands. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her furry companions, Sugar the PomChi and Rudy the Shiba Inu, and indulging in hobbies like crafting and home renovation.

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