Should I buy a rabbit for my child?
Bunnies are very cute looking and appeal to people of all ages, especially persuasive children! If you are thinking of buying a rabbit for your child there are some important factors you need to consider beforehand. Firstly, rabbits are very sociable and need to live in pairs, so you would actually need to buy two!
Rabbits tend to be a bad choice of pet for small children because children generally find it difficult to stay quiet, calm, and gentle around rabbits. As prey animals, rabbits are alert, timid creatures that startle easily. They have fragile bones, especially in their backs, that require support on the belly and bottom when picked up. Contrary to popular belief - rabbits HATE being picked up and cuddled!
Some important things to know about rabbits
- Rabbits can live for 10-12 years, so if you have an 8 year old girl, will she be able to give these rabbits the time, space, love and affection all through her teenage years until she's 20 years old?
- They need regular cleaning out. Cleaning up poo and urine and disinfecting - will your child take this responsibilty?
- They don't like noise, whether it be screaming, or children squealing with delight at their new pet, and will run off and hide. Children soon get bored with the pet that "doesn't want to play".
- Rabbits hate being chased or roughly handled and get stressed easily. This can cause them to bite, become withdrawn or agressive, or become ill from high stress levels.
- Bunnies have fragile bodies and can easily be hurt or suffer from broken bones if mishandled or dropped. A bunny struggling to escape from a child's arms won't realise it may hurt itself by jumping. A quick nip indicates the desire to be put back on the ground - a child's reflex is to scream and drop the rabbit.
- Rabbits bite, kick and scratch, even the smallest bunny can hurt your child. They are not the quiet, slow, soppy animals we see in story books; they are wild animals with the ability to bite, kick, and scratch.
- Rabbits HATE being picked up! They are prey animals so they like to have their feet firmly on the ground, 99% of rabbits will scratch and kick until they are put back down. They can easily draw blood through no fault or intention of their own.
- They are expensive to keep (around £1,000+ per year) and unfortunately it will be you, not your child, footing the bills! See How much does it cost to keep a rabbit? for an idea of costs.
The most important point to remember if you want a pet rabbit for your child
You might be buying it for your child (who may be very good with animals), but please understand that ultimately the rabbit will be the ADULT's responsibility and will rely on YOU (not your children) to give them the 10+ years of love, space and attention that they deserve. The best home is with an older family who have the time, space, money, love, patience and understanding.
These points are specific to children, there are more points to consider before buying a rabbit. Please see What do I need to know for more info!
But my children love rabbits, what can I do instead?
There are lots of ways you can get children involved with rabbits and teach them responsibility without having to buy them one.
- Take them to rabbit rescue open days - you can meet the rabbits and give them treats
- Sponsor a rabbit. Charities and rescues do sponsor packs where you pay a yearly donation and receive letters and photos of your sponsored animal which you can also go and visit.
Click here to search for a local rescue.
- Ask your local rescue if you can visit them to see their bunnies.
- If your child is willing you can also help rabbit rescues with their feeding and cleaning! This will give your child responsibility and an idea of what it's like to look after a little furry life.
If in doubt - a toy bunny is a lot cheaper and easier to look after, and it doesn't suffer when the novelty wears off!