Bunnies and Kids: Are Rabbits Good Pets For Children?
Rabbits have been popular pets for children for many decades, and hutches down the bottom of the garden have become both a fixture in many homes, and a fond childhood for many. As people have come to understand bunnies better however, and to realize that keeping a rabbit in a wire box in the back yard can be tantamount to animal cruelty, there has also been a shift in the perception of the role of rabbits as children's pets.
Many bunny publications will stoutly declare "Rabbits are not good pets for children", and this can be true, up to a point. Rabbits are not good pets for anyone who is rough, impatient, or cruel. Rabbits often have no time for nonsense and will quickly put an end to interaction they don't like, by biting, scratching, or running away. If you don't like the idea that your child could be on the receiving end of a rather physical correction from a rabbit that doesn't want its ears pulled, or as the result of some such other real or perceived offense, then you should not be thinking about a rabbit as a pet for your darling offspring.
However, if the premise of getting a pet for your child is to teach your child how to be responsible for another life, and how to be caring, gentle, and understanding of other creatures and their needs, then a rabbit can be a perfect pet. Rabbits can be kept in relatively small apartments, if given the opportunity to run around outside of their cages. They are quiet, and do not smell as long as they are kept clean. (Keeping them clean may require cleaning them out twice daily if they are in a small cage in a small space however.)
If the necessary time is taken with them, they can become affectionate and playful pets, and if they are well taken care of, may even live between 5 - 10 years.
Some things you should be aware of if you are intending on getting a rabbit as a pet for your child:
Rabbits need exercise like any other animal. They are a prey animal, and their joy comes from running around, jumping and twisting in the air. They cannot be kept in their little cage or little backyard run indefinitely. Think of how rabbits are in the wild. They do not hop around in a few feet's worth of space, and a domestic rabbit loves to run around as much as its wild counterpart.
They need attention and affection, and they need it at their own pace. They are not good candidates for childish smothering, and small children will need to be supervised around them.
However, many rabbits are not overly receptive to human attention, especially in the beginning, You and your child will need to take the time to build the rabbit's trust.
Rabbits can scratch and bite. These are both painful, and can easily result from clumsy handling.
Bunnies are relatively frail, and special care has to be taken so that they do not hurt themselves while they are being handled or picked up.
Rabbits need a constant supply of hay.
Rabbits should NEVER be fed lettuce, as this can be lethal. There are a number of other things bunnies should never be fed, you can find them here: BAD BUNNY FOOD