It isn't hard to see why children love the idea of keeping a rabbit as a pet; they have soft,silky fur, they are full of life and they have a charm all of their own, not to mention those wonderful ears! But perhaps it's worth thinking seriously about the care a rabbit will need before you buy or adopt one for your child.
While some rabbits may be content to sit with their owners, they can be fragile, frightened by sudden noise and often need some quiet time to themselves. This means they could be easily dropped by your child should they struggle, and as rabbits do not land well on their feet this could lead to spinal injuries. Children often expect frequent cuddles from their pet, but a rabbit may feel overwhelmed by their attention, so encourage your child to interact with a rabbit on their level by sitting on the floor with them. You can also use a towel to cover your legs so the rabbit feels more secure with a rough surface that they can easily grip to, which will prevent any scratches.
Rabbits do not appear to play as obviously interactively as dogs or cats, so to prevent your child losing interest in a pet that will not chase a ball, explain to them that rabbits behave differently but they are just as loving. You can buy great enrichment for bunnies from pet shops, particularly gnawing blocks and fun items such as treat balls, so you can see your pet exhibiting natural behaviours and know they are happy. You can also create your own rabbit toys using simple objects from around the home (such as cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes and plant pots) and encourage your child to help and then let them watch your pet play.
Sometimes parents may end up feeling they no longer want the responsibility of caring for a rabbit once their child no longer pays attention to it, and this could lead to the rabbit being passed on to an animal shelter for re-homing. It's always important to explain to a child that pets are living creatures who need love and attention every day, just like them. Ensure you keep your children involved with all aspects of care when it comes to looking after your bunnies (show them from the start and they are far more likely to stay actively interested as they are able to participate and feel responsible). However, before adopting any pets always consider the fact that, as an adult, you will be responsible for the health and welfare of that animal and remember that rabbits can live up to 10 years.
We put together a useful guide full of information and tips for anybody considering adopting a rabbit to help them prepare, so be sure to take a look and allow your child to get involved too. Explain why your pet needs everything you get for them and teach by example!
If you are a responsible adult who, along with the younger members of your family, loves the idea of owning a rabbit (with all the responsibilities that this brings), or if you simply love caring for bunnies, please come along to the shelter to take a look at those we have available for re-homing in our new rabbit pens. Alternatively, why not visit our rehoming page to see the rabbits still searching for their forever home? Bunnies can make excellent and very rewarding pets for adults and children alike!