We get a lot of adoption requests from families wanting to adopt bunnies for their children. Common enquiries include things such as “I’d like a cuddly rabbit for my child” and “My daughter would like a bunny for her birthday”. Most of these enquiries come from people with good intentions, people that want to teach their children to care for animals or have some responsibility of owning pets. Unfortunately, rabbits often aren’t the cuddly, easy pet that these people are seeking.
There are many reasons why we don’t recommend rabbits as ideal pets for children, which we will discuss here:
1. Rabbits can be a 10-12 year commitment
Rabbits have a much longer lifespan than people often realise, so you need to be prepared to give them a loving home for this amount of time. If you are adopting rabbits as pets for your children you need to consider this; Will your children still be living at home when your rabbits are 10 years old and still needing love and care? If not, are you willing to put in the time to take on the responsibility of the rabbits and give them the attention they deserve?
Sadly, all too often we take in bunnies from people whose children have got bored. It isn’t the child’s fault, they are children after all, but this is why we only urge people to adopt if they are just as invested in having rabbits as the children. That way, if the children do get bored, they are able to take over and the rabbits are still able to be part of the family.
2. Rabbits require a lot of time and care
Rabbits are not the easy pet that people often believe them to be. We have learnt a lot about them in recent years and it certainly is not acceptable to leave them without attention at the bottom of the garden. They require daily cleaning and attention as well as grooming and vet care. Rabbits make wonderful members of the family if they are just given the time; With daily attention they can become really tame, some come to love being stroked and played with and you can enjoy spending time with them.
3. Most rabbits find being picked up very stressful and they often don’t enjoy cuddles.
Another myth is that rabbits love cuddles. Whilst some are the exception and are happy to be picked up, most actually find this very stressful. Rabbits are prey species. In the wild, if they are picked up it usually means they have been caught by a predator. This instinct of feeling stressed and scared when picked up is still a feeling pet rabbits experience. We therefore don’t usually recommend picking up rabbits unless you have to, such as to clip their nails. Lots of rabbits do like to be stroked with four feet on the ground though and we can advise you which bunnies in our care do like to be stroked and which don’t. But it isn’t a given that rabbits are the sweet cuddly pets you imagine.
This is just a few of the reasons why bunnies don’t make the ideal pets for children. We are happy to rehome our bunnies to families who have children, so long as they are going to be pets for the adults as much as the children, and the children are only allowed near the rabbits when supervised. We will always educate families who enquire about adopting and make sure they understand the commitments and information discussed in this post. 7 out of 10 rabbits are given up within the first year of ownership, please don’t be part of this statistic.