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A Pet Rabbit For A Child? Read This First

Updated on October 15, 2009
Bunny By Kyoht Luterman
Bunny By Kyoht Luterman

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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    • belleart profile image

      belleart 4 years ago from Ireland

      This is a really good hub, rabbits do take an awful lot of time and effort but the reward is twice that. Personally I wouldn't get a rabbit for a child at all, children don't understand the fragility of these creatures and if they get scared they will never warm to you. I had Cocoa outside in a hutch and run for 2 years and she always hated being picked up and pestered, after we brought her inside though, her temperament changed drastically and now all she wants is constant attention. She tugs at our feet, licks us, runs around our feet all in order to get a few cuddles!! However, she hates when children come to the house, its as if she knows what she's in for, which is a lot of petting, touching and trying to be picked up. :(

    • profile image

      Alexis 7 years ago

      I think you are quite wrong. I readily got my child a bun even after I read this. Hopsalot, our rabbit, has a horrible temper. We keep him in the garage. My little girl plays with him, and he never even tries to scratch or nip her, although he hates being taken out of the cage (he scratches and bites), he is very nice when we hold him. My girl even runs with Hops.

    • Bunniez profile image

      Bunniez 8 years ago

      I'm glad you got something out of this raggits, rabbits are great, but they're not for every family :)

    • profile image

      Raggits 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this Bunniez! I took some notes down for my daughter who has a co-worker who would like to buy a couple bunnies for her kids. I don't know the personalities of the 2 children but thought this would be good for her to read before buying something that might not be appropriate for her and her family and I'd hate for my daughters good reputation in rabbits to bite the dust over a miscommunication.

      Great hub!