Are Your Kids Old Enough To Have A Pet Rabbit?
Rabbits do make wonderful pets, but only for older children 10 years and up but Are Your Kids Old Enough To Have A Pet Rabbit?
A pet rabbit, or two makes a wonderful companion and are lot’s of fun to have around. Having pet rabbits will teach your children responsibility, empathy and respect for other living creatures.
A 10 year old child is old enough to truly understand a rabbits nature and it’s requirements. Most importantly, a 10 year old is both strong and responsible enough to be shown how to gently and securely pick up, hold and pet a rabbit.
If you have pet rabbits and your children are younger, then they should never be left unsupervised with a rabbit and they should never be allowed to pick up a rabbit. See my article Why Rabbits Are Not Suitable Pets For Very Young Children
If you want to give a child under 10 a rabbit to hold, he should be old enough to sit quietly on the floor, with a towel folded up on his lap and you should place the rabbit onto the child’s lap while sitting next to the child and rabbit to supervise.
Remember Each Rabbit Has It’s Own Distinct Personality
If you are going to get your children a rabbit, then you need to assess each rabbits personality.
Some rabbits do indeed seem to enjoy being held and sitting on your lap being gently petted, while other rabbits may not like being held at all, but are quite happy to have you sit next to them and pet them. A child need to respect this.
Where To Get A Pet Rabbit
Adopting a rabbit from a rescue group can be a great way to go, as not only are you saving a life, but the foster carers will have lived with the rabbit for enough time to be able to tell you whether the rabbit is docile, playful, fear aggressive, enjoys being held and stroked etc..
You can also adopt rabbits from many animal shelters; e.g. the RSPCA.
Rabbits by nature, are social beings and in the wild they live in groups, therefore they love companionship. This is why I recommend getting at least a pair of rabbits.
Important – Your rabbit must be desexed, as rabbits breed…well… like rabbits. Also rabbits are notoriously difficult to sex correctly. So you may think you have two boys, or two girls, but many a time even vets have got this wrong and the result, more unwanted rabbits.
If you are adopting more than one rabbit, it is important to make sure you do a meet and greet and supervise the rabbits together to ensure they get along and don’t fight. The shelter/ rescue group can help you with this.
Your Rabbits Needs
- Rabbits can live inside or outside in a warm, safe, sheltered and secure rabbit hutch.
- They need twice daily feeding of a mix of fresh, rabbit hay and fresh, appropriate greens and occasional other veggies and fruit.
- Fresh clean water.
- Clean bedding hay.
- Their cage or hut cleaned lightly out daily and cleaned thoroughly out, at least twice a week.
- Rabbits, especially longer haired rabbits, require regular brushing and this is something that an older child can be taught to do and is a great way for the child and rabbit to bond.
- Playtime and exercise, each and every day.
Why Your Rabbits Should Live Inside With Your Children If Possible
Keeping your rabbits living inside with the family, is a great idea. It ensures your rabbits are safer and they are not exposed to extreme heat, or cold, both which can kill a rabbit. They are also safe from foxes and much less likely to be bitten by a mosquito and get the deadly Myxomatosis Virus.
Rabbits are naturally clean animals, they groom themselves and can be taught to use a kitty litter tray.
If your child’s rabbit lives in an outside hutch, then the child should bring her rabbit inside daily to socialize with the family. If you have other pets or other younger children around, then these interactions must be supervised by an adult at all times.
It is best to put dogs and cats in another room or outside when your child’s rabbit is out of its cage or hutch, as even if the rabbit and dog and cat get along, rough play can kill a rabbit.
Rabbits really enjoy playing with rabbit friendly toys and they DO need daily exercise. Your childrens rabbits need at least a few hours a day out of their indoor cage, or outside hutch for exercising, socializing and playing.
Your children can teach their rabbits to respond to their name and a few other words ;e.g getting up on their hind legs to take a treat from their hand.
Just remember it is you the adults that will end up looking after the rabbit and cleaning out it’s hutch and kitty litter tray and not the kids. Your children may start out feeding the rabbit, but just like with any pet and kids, it usually ends up being the job of the adults in the family to make sure the rabbit gets its food and water.
Rabbit Proofing Your Home & Yard
You will need to ensure that your house and yard is rabbit escape-proof, remember rabbits rein supreme as escape artists! Rabbits also like to chew things (and in houses their favourite chew choices tend to be electrical cords) as it helps them grind down their teeth, so you must ensure that your house is rabbit-chew-proof and this includes teaching your children to keep their belongings off the floor and surfaces where the rabbit can reach.
Teaching An Older Child How To Pick Up A Rabbit Properly
This technique must be taught to your children and anyone else who may want to hold your pet rabbit.
- Gently but securely, pick a rabbit up be supporting his forequarters, meaning under his front armpits with one hand, while with the other hand you scoop him up under his rear end and support his lower body and hind legs.
- Now keeping this secure but gentle hold on the rabbit, bring him into rest snugly against your chest area, with his feet flat on your chest and support his bottom with one hand while the other supports his back.
- Alternatively pick him up using this method then sit down and sit him on your lap, making sure he won’t fall off.
- When putting a rabbit back down on the ground, hold the rabbit firmly and gently as above, then crouch as low down to the floor as possible, before gently releasing him.
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