10 Reasons to NOT get your child a Rabbit for Easter
We all know someone who has asked for a puppy for Christmas or a bunny for Easter, but is that really in the best interest of the animal and the child.
Rabbits are not the easiest pets to care for and are suited to quieter homes and teenagers-adults who can provide them with everything they require. Having a pet is very serious and should be taken as seriously as caring for a child.
This hub is not intended to offend or upset anyone and if you truly believe you can oblige to every single RSPCA rule, give them every bit of attention and care they need, pay for vet bills and keep them properly for their entire lifespan then there is no reason why you shouldn't have one as they can make great pets.
There are too many people buying pets for Easter or any other holiday they cannot afford, don't intend to keep or buying them as surprise gifts and the animals end up in cruelty, killed, abandoned, etc.
1. Rabbits Can Live until their Teenage Years
Rabbits are living creatures and like all living creatures they have a natural lifespan.
The average rabbit will live 7-10 years with the proper care, some rabbits have been known to live until 13 or 14 years, especially house rabbits. The shortest lifespan for a rabbit is 5 years for a giant, mini, or rex. Anything else will live to be at least 7 years old.
Of course this means you have up to 10 years responsibility for your animal. That is 10 years of feed, housing, water, bedding, vet bills, time, attention and handling. It is cruel to get a pet with the intention of keeping it for a few weeks or a few years with the idea you can always hand it in somewhere or sell it on. A pet is for life, not just for a present. whether they live for 10 weeks or 10 years you sign the contract to promise you will care for it. If you aren't willing to sign up for their entire lifespan, you shouldn't have a pet.
2. They're Fragile
Rabbits are one of the more fragile pets, despite their appropriate size for a child to handle, they are very tentative.
Frail spines: Rabbits should never lie on their backs, be dropped or anything knock their backbone as they are very frail and can break, slip, or damage very easily. Damage to the spine can occur from improper housing, fighting, being dropped, incorrectly handled, chased by other pets, falls, or things falling on them.
Heart Attacks: The most common cause of death, especially in young rabbits. Rabbits can die from fright very, very easily and it can take as long as 10 days for it to happen after a shock. Shocks can occur from sudden noises, movement they cannot see, animal attacks, being dropped, mishandled, predatory animals around, etc. Rabbits are extremely short-sighted from the front meaning if you are directly in front of them they may feel you are a danger. Heart attacks can happen from a small scare.
Digestion: Rabbits should not have lots of carrots, they require specific foods, proper hay and research. Improper diet can kill them, cause constipation or the runs which can lead to a serious ailment called fly strike.
Fly strike: Happens to rabbits and sheep, a dirty or wet bottom can happen very easily and in spring-autumn when flies are about they land on the rabbit, lay eggs on them which hatch and eat the rabbit from the inside out. It is almost impossible to treat and very rarely do they ever recover. They need constant monitoring, a thoroughly checked diet and good hygiene.
Vaccines: If you live in an area with lots of other animals or in a rural area your rabbit will require vaccinations which can be on a yearly basis. Myxomatosis is a deadly disease that can wipe out massive rabbit populations. The only way to be sure they don't get it is through vaccines.
3. They need lots of Space
Rabbits require a minimum of one double hutch raised from the ground by several inches that is fully secured both top and bottom with a run that is 6 feet by 4 feet, preferably with a sun room or lid to prevent predatory animals and dehydration.
It is cruel to keep a rabbit in a single storey hutch which should only be used for quarantine or very elderly rabbits that cannot climb a ramp.
Many animal shelters and pet stores will not sell you rabbits unless they have seen evidence of the minimum RSPCA requirements and the rules are tightening up. These requirements promote health and welfare of the animal and also help to restrict people buying them and throwing them in a tiny cage or run.
Rabbits also require a lot of exercise whether they are house rabbits or not. House rabbits MUST NOT BE KEPT IN A CAGE ALONE and still require a large indoor run or free run in the house provided everything is secured.
4. You Can't keep a rabbit on its Own.
Rabbits are extremely social animals, no matter how much time you spend with it, there's nothing like having someone of the same species to play with and snuggle up to. Rabbits should only be kept in pairs of a neutered male and a female.
Two males will fight, two females will likely fight to the death and you should NEVER attempt to keep two of the same gender together.
Rabbits should NEVER be paired with Guinea Pigs as bullying and aggression is common. The Guinea may die from stress, an attack, heart attack or health problems related to starvation or dehydration as rabbits can claim the feed and water areas. It is very rare for a rabbit and a guinea pig to live happily together.
5. They can pose a Health Risk
Like with any animal, you should be 100% through and through vaccinated before having a pet. Rabbits can carry bacteria, virus' and general filth they pick up from you handling them or from the garden.
Salmonella, E-coli, Tetanus, Meningitis, Allergies are among the list of serious issues. A bite or scratch can easily become infected and turn to blood poisoning. Children put their hands in their mouth, their faces to animals and aren't the best at washing their hands making them prone to picking up nasty bugs going around. With very good hygiene and vaccinations this shouldn't be a problem.
The flip side to this is rabbits do not have a massive human immune system, they are actually very weak animals and can catch some human diseases. Handling them without proper hygiene or when you're sick can spread the illness to the bunny and kill it very easily.
Rabbits cost money to keep. They cannot live on your vegetables and a bowl of water. Whilst they aren't as expensive as a dog, their food can be pricey even as much as £5 per 2kg bag, £4 for quality hay and more for quality wood shavings.
Your rabbit may require vaccinations, insurance, antibiotics if they're sick, operations, spay/neutering, minor procedures, claws clipping if you can't do it yourself, health checks or other medical issues which can amount to a lot of money.
Rabbits should not have cut grass, they should not have hay that has been stored in a barn or around other animals, they should not have many vegetables, only as a treat. They should have a very small quantity of carrots on occasion and should never have lettuce or any human foods such as dairy, sweets, chocolate or meat as they cannot digest it. Rabbits are prone to dirty bottoms which is mainly caused by their food.
Upfront costs of the rabbits themselves along with everything they need which complies to the animal shelter guidelines or the RSPCA ones can cost several hundred pounds/dollars to set up.
Don't forget cleaning supplies! pet store cleaning supplies for your lovely pet are essential to keeping their cage clean.
7. They are Not Toys
They're living, feeling creatures that require a lot of care, attention and love. People do not realise how much work rabbits can be to care for them correctly.
Rabbits can be hard for children to handle and even harder to tame. Many rabbits are fearful of children and other animals and will kick, scratch and thrash about when handled making it an unpleasant experience for you and the pet. Rabbits don't like to be handled a lot and can easily become sore.
Rabbits are most active during the evening and early morning and like to sleep at night and during the day.
You should never lift a rabbit by the ears, pull the ears and it is advised to not lift by the scruff of the neck. They should be lifted gently but firmly around the middle and held closely to your body in a secure manner. You should not let go of or drop a frightened/fighting rabbit as they could become seriously injured, have a heart attack or be very difficult to tame again.
8. It Promotes Animal Farming
Animal Farming can be extremely upsetting to some people. There are lots of very nasty people out there who over breed and inbreed their rabbits to make quick money. There are very few-no restrictions on this.
Some pet stores will put in a supply demand for more animals, the more that are sold the more they have farmed into them ASAP to make more money. Not all are like this but 8/10 rabbits are sold on, abandoned, neglected, killed or surrendered to shelters within the first 6 months.
Children often don't want an older, preowned rabbit from a shelter. Not all of them have health problems but many have been abused, are skittish and they are much stricter on rehoming them thanks to the animal farming.
What is an animal farm? They keep rabbits in very small enclosures and breed back-to-back litters from the females which can cause SERIOUS health problems and even premature death. The babies are often sickly, frail, have health or behavioural problems, or have a drastically shortened and unhappy lifespan. They are bred for nothing more than cash in the pocket, often mistreated or uncared for before rehoming and the sellers do not care about where they go or how they are treated. When the rabbits are too old for breeding many are killed, fed to other animals or abandoned if not sold on claimed to be younger than they are.
9. The Child's Interest
Many children lose interest after the first few weeks or months of owning a pet. They're the latest fad to many children, not all, but many and are dumped, sold, or surrendered if not forced to live out their life in sadness and often cruelty - intentional or not. If your child has lost interest in a pet before or loses interest in things quickly, a rabbit with a lifespan of up to 10 years is not them. If your child is 5 now, will they still be interested in their rabbits when they're 10? 12? 15?
Rabbits make much better pets for older children, teens and adults whom have the ability to commit longer term to an animal and are more able to understand the care requirements and handle them correctly, this does not mean you should rush out and buy your teens Easter bunnies, especially if they didn't ask for them.
It is not fair to get an animal to lose interest and have no love for it or interest in it. The rabbit doesn't understand this and it is terribly unfair. It is the same as adopting a child and a few months later changing your mind and trying to return it.
Are you willing to put 99% of the care in for the rabbit?
Are you willing to pay all the costs and vet bills if your animal needs it?
Can you provide them with a secure garden with plenty of space and leisure time?
Will you be outside in all weathers cleaning them out, keeping them warm, moving their things, feeding them and spending time with them?
Can you commit 5-10 years to your new pet?
Do you have cats or other predatory animals? you should not keep animals with cats or lots of dogs due to heart attacks and danger.
Is it in the best interest of both the rabbits and the child to be together?