So you’re ready to have a new addition to the family, but this one is for the already bouncing joys in your life. The excitement of having a new pet is all it takes to get the kids ecstatic but you have questions if whether or not the pet is a good match for them. Rabbits are known to be one of the easiest pets to take care of, but let’s make sure that’s perfect for your family.
Rabbits are good pets for responsible kids since they are very affectionate with their caretakers. They require exercise so your kids can have a playful and cuddly companion to keep them busy. Your child should be at least 12 years of age to take on the responsibilities of raising a pet rabbit, depending on their maturity level.
With these helpful tips, there can be assurance whether or not rabbits are a good fit for your home.
Rabbits have a general set of needs that are not expensive when it comes to typical pet costs. With vet checkups not necessary, you can expect to spend about $25-50 a month on veggies (15%), hay (80%), a proper pellet diet (5%), and wooden chew toys.
Starting cages for bunnies should be about the size of a guinea pig domain 30” by 36” is best with the cost ranging from $40-60) as too small can lead to sores on their paws, obesity, and depression. As they grow into an adult, a hutch (about $40 at Walmart) with a bigger free-range area (6ft by 2ft by 2ft) is needed along with a deeply wired gate to place in at night, especially if you have other animals.
If your rabbit develops an upper respiratory infection, though this mainly comes from poor environment care, medication will be around $10-15.
First-timers? Find out everything you need to get for a new pet rabbit to make sure you aren’t missing something critical. The products that I’ve used and strongly recommend can be found on this checklist of what to buy for a new pet rabbit!
Your kids should put out bowls with a wired food stand and not get a water bottle as the VPA in plastic can cause them to be sick and dehydrate for not having easier access. When you get a rabbit for a child, it is best to have it be a small one as the younger the rabbit the better the bonding can be given to your child’s recommended younger age.
Make sure the wired gate is covered at night so the rabbit feels secure in their enclosure. If you do have other pets, they must be introduced at younger ages so they can be used to one another and not have a predator vs. prey association.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR AN EASY BREED?
Some rabbit breeds are easier to take care of than others. Check out my article The 6 Easiest Rabbit Breeds to Take Care Of to find out which of the different needs and personalities of various rabbit breeds will work best with your child!
Let’s start with the cons first as the sooner these are acknowledged the better your decision for your kids can be. Maintenance is key with a pet rabbit as it makes a drastic difference between good health and sickness. So a lot of this is based on how responsible your kids are. Rabbits can be a bit messy with their food pellets, poop pellets, and hay scattered on the floor.
If not properly maintained, the urine has a strong aroma so there must be frequent cleanups. Your kid’s electronics should not be around them as they are more prone to chew on cords which can be dangerous for the pets (and your electronics).
Rabbit nails grow fast so it’s important to teach your kids how to keep them trimmed (learn how in my rabbit nail trimming article here) as it can hurt them when they get scratched trying to cuddle with their bunny. Teaching your kids how to best hold the rabbit will prevent the hind legs from kicking them. Make sure when the rabbit is held with its legs securely against the child’s chest or resting on the arm.
However, a rabbit does communicate well by stomping their feet when they’ve had enough attention. They can also cause allergies in some people so it’s important to check to see if your kids may have or could develop them. I have a list of the best kinds of rabbits for allergies here if you’re still deciding what type of rabbit to buy and you’re concerned about getting one that’s easy on the sinuses.
Rabbits are very social creatures and they will not be good for kids if they are easily distracted by other preferred modes of entertainment. If you cannot afford a second rabbit to ease the anxiety a rabbit can have without proper child companionship, it may not be best for your kids.
Rabbits are known to be one of the most affectionate pets for kids to have. When bonded well enough with their child owners, they will follow them around the house and even jump into their child caretaker’s laps on command, having been used to hearing their voice so often. They make nice cuddle buddies as they are social creatures who need lots of time with your kids.
What’s interesting is they can be litter box trained and as their teeth grow they can be filed down with wood toys/chewing blocks to reduce the risk of the rabbit biting your child. If you are worried about vet expenses, they are as cheap as they come.
You only need to take them to a rabbit vet if they show symptoms of upper respiratory problems (wheezing, discharge from the nose, loss of appetite/weight) as they are the most common but will only show if the rabbit isn’t properly cared for.
Do’s and Don’ts to Remember
- Do have the kids cuddle gently with the rabbits often as this is the best way to bond.
- Do wipe your rabbit with pet-safe wipes or a damp cloth if they get dirty.
- Do get a rabbit if your child needs an ESA as they are most ideal.
- Do take your rabbit to a rabbit specialist as more than likely a typical vet will not know if your rabbit has health issues.
- Do keep your rabbit’s nails trimmed and teeth filed using the proper toys and nail clippers.
- Do not bathe your rabbit as they have sensitive skin and can cause hypothermia/shock.
- Do not give your rabbit sweets as this can trigger a deadly G1 stage that proceeds to death.
- Do not handle your rabbit by the scruff/lay them on their backs/cradle-like as if it is a baby. This will lead them to be in shock as this relates to them thinking they are captured by a predator.
- Do not leave your rabbit outside if they are not in a well-vented enclosure protected from the wind or outside predators.
The success of your child being able to enjoy a rabbit’s company is if the upkeep of the environment/enclosure is often and if the rabbit is being given lots of social and physical bonding. If this meets the needs of your household and children needs then a rabbit is a perfect pet for your kids.