A Pet Rabbit For A Child? Read This First
Many parents think getting a pet rabbit for their child is a good idea because it will be a cute little animal that they can keep outside where their children can pet it and love it and all the rest of it. What parents who haven't owned rabbits before don't know is that rabbits need a lot of time and attention and their temperaments are variable at the best of times. That cute little fuzzy ball peering out at you in the pet store can easily have your child crying and bleeding within a moment or two if they choose to.
What people often don't think about is the fact that rabbits are prey animals. Being prey animals, they need to feel secure and will very often not like being picked up or cuddled by larger animals. (Bunnies that stop for a cuddle with a fox in the wild don't make it very long.) Your child is a small, high pitched, over enthusiastic human being who has not yet fully developed their motor functions and to a bunny, being descended on by such a creature is a terrifying experience.
If you are willing to supervise your child with the rabbit and explain that they cannot pick it up and hug it (some rabbits will allow this, many will not,) then that is okay. But many children are disappointed when the animal that they thought would be their best friend forever wants nothing to do with them, bites and scratches them for being too touchy, and generally creates havoc.
Again, this is not the fault of the rabbit. Rabbits can be great pets if you manage to get one with a nice temperament to begin with. if you read this and then decide to get your child a rabbit anyway, then I highly recommend that you adopt a fully grown adult. They will probably cost a bit less, and more importantly, you will be able to tell what their temperament is right away.
However many times, rabbits just aren't all that interested in the type of affection only a child can provide. Even a rabbit that will hop up and nudge your leg to make you give her head rubs will run a mile when the smaller, screamier version wants to play.
It's a matter of compatibility. A guinea pig may be more appropriate if you are looking for a small garden pet, they tend to be less intelligent than rabbits and therefore much more docile. Most guinea pigs can be picked up and carried around without kicking out and harming themselves or your child. A rabbit's kicking can actually cause it serious harm if it is floating in mid air, and the claws on the back of it's feet can inflict nasty scratches.
Rabbits really are something of a refined taste, with many of them having the temperament of an old dowager, waiting for you to serve them yummy food, provide them with the head rub they desire and then leave them in peace. To have this dignified routine broken with an excited small human is almost too much for their delicate sensibilities to bear.
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