A Rabbit for the Family Pet?

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An Australian rabbit breeder tells a common story:

“I bought my sons a rabbit after they promised they would take care of it. As usual, I ended up with the responsibility. Thoroughly exasperated, I asked: ‘How many times do you think that rabbit would have died if I hadn’t looked after it?’

My 12-year-old replied, ‘Once’.”

A rabbit is still an uncommon pet, but they make good ones for children who are not too young to injure them. One other problem is that even children with a good sense of responsibility may not recognize when a rabbit is sick or may not realize when food or water is unsafe.

That means that you, the parent, are ultimately responsible for the safety and care of the rabbit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as rabbits are generally well behaved and gentle pets if they’re treated right.

You might very well enjoy handling and cuddling your pet bunny. Kids can be very excited about a new pet right at first, but when the excitement wears off, the rabbit may be neglected or ignored by them.

Since it’s not safe for a rabbit to go out for a run or romp like a dog, and a rabbit doesn’t often react in funny ways the way a cat will at times, it can become boring to a kid.

Rabbits can live up to 12 or 13 years, so your child may be grown up and gone from home, leaving you with all the care. Remember that “care” includes spending time with a rabbit.

They are not solitary animals and will be miserably lonely if kept locked up in a cage alone all the time.

All of that said, some rabbits make excellent pets for children as well as adults. Some of the breeds most often recommended for children include Himalayan, Florida White, Palomino and the exotic looking Harlequin.

It’s better to get a male because they don’t get territorial or begin wanting to nest as a female will. Most male rabbits are a lot calmer and want the attention of their owners.

There is no general “bad smell” to them and they’re very easy to clean up after. You can even train them to use a specific box or area.

Since they are vegetarians, their pellets are not considered a particularly dangerous source of toxins.

Note that owning a pet rabbit is illegal in some places, so be sure to check local ordinances. Read up on the care of rabbits and decide whether one would fit your household before committing to a pet that will be a mistake.

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