Rabbits have always been a popular pet. Each Easter, children are given rabbits by well-meaning parents thinking that the creature will not live a long time. Despite their rather short gestation period, rabbits live, on average, about ten years. They are not a pet to be taken lightly, and you will put quite a bit of work into the pet.
Rabbits, while not classified as rodents, still have the urge to gnaw and require a gnawing stick. Due to their larger size compared to hamsters, rabbits require a bigger living space, such as a larger cage. It’s important to keep in mind that rabbit cages can become quite dirty and produce an odor, thus they are often kept outside when the weather is nice and in a garage or basement during colder seasons.
Before getting a rabbit for your child, think about the following:
- Do you have an adequate rabbit cage?
- Where are you going to put the rabbit cage in the winter?
- Do you realize how long the rabbit will live?
Contrary to popular belief, litter training rabbits is often challenging and may not be achievable. Thus, it’s important to supervise them carefully when they are out of their cage, as they may urinate and defecate anywhere.
Rabbits are docile creatures and very friendly. They are easy to handle and rarely bite. Caring for a rabbit is similar to caring for a hamster or gerbil. They need fresh bedding that must be changed on a weekly basis, fresh water, and food. You will put a bottle feeder in the rabbit’s cage to give him or her water.
Rabbits tend to be more social and less territorial than small pets like gerbils and hamsters, which allows them to usually coexist with other rabbits in a single cage. Two female rabbits tend to be better suited to live together in the same cage than two males, as there is less likelihood of them fighting. In the case of a male and a female rabbit, they may breed immediately as rabbits have a short gestation period of two months, and litters can have a high number of offspring, typically around six bunnies.
In addition to their rabbit food, rabbits can also be given lettuce, which they love, and carrot sticks. Celery sticks are also good for rabbits. You must make sure that the bunny has something on which to gnaw.
Rabbits can put up with all sorts of manhandling and will rarely bite, although they do have nails that can scratch a child. A young child should be taught to treat the rabbit gently and kindly and be carefully supervised when handling the creature, so they do not squeeze them too tight. Rabbits do not mind being handled, and their fur is very soft, making them a much-coveted pet for young children.
The drawback of owning rabbits are that they tend to get sick easily. They are prone to eye infections more than most animals, and you might end up spending a lot of money on vet bills. Another drawback of owning rabbits is the space factor. You need a place to keep the cage where the odor won’t be as noticeable. No matter how fastidious you or your child is about cleaning the rabbit cage, it will still have an odor. And you have to remember that the rabbit is bound to live a long, full life if well cared for, which means that you will have the creature around for the next ten years.
On the plus side, rabbits are very gentle pets. You have to worry more about a young child hurting the rabbit than the rabbit hurting the child.
They are non-aggressive and relatively easy to care for. They can be quite a fun pet for a young child as long as you have space. Unlike gerbils and hamsters, you do not have to worry about it biting your child whenever he or she picks it up. A rabbit is even docile enough to walk on a leash, although it will not walk very far.
If you have a cat in the family, make sure that you keep it far away from the rabbit. Cats are predators and rabbits are among their natural prey. A cat will go for the rabbit’s throat in seconds, leaving you and your children horrified. If you have a cat, keep it far away from your pet rabbit.
Rabbits can be purchased at your local pet store or even adopted at animal shelters. Your child may learn to like raising these creatures so much that he or she will want to begin breeding them. There are even rabbit shows in which the animals compete for grooming prizes, similar to cat shows.
These animals, despite the fact that they need space for a cage, have a lot to offer a young child. Chances are that your children will enjoy having a rabbit for a pet very much.