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 the average, about 10 years. They are not a pet to be taken lightly and you will put quite a bit of work into the pet.
Although it is not technically a rodent, a rabbit will still gnaw and needs a gnawing stick. Because they are considerably larger than hamsters, rabbits need a larger cage in which to live. As they can get very messy and generally have an odor to them, rabbit cages are usually kept out of doors in nice weather and in the garage or basement in the cold weather.
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?
Rabbits are yet another pet that people will insist can be “litter trained.” This is difficult, if not impossible to do and chances are that your rabbit will go all over the place, no matter where he or she is at, so they should be supervised carefully whenever they are out of the cage.
Rabbits are docile creatures and very friendly. They are easy to handle and rarely every 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, freshwater, and food. You will put a bottle feeder in the rabbit’s cage to give him or her water.
Unlike gerbils and hamsters, rabbits are a lot more easy-going when it comes to placing another rabbit in the cage. They are not as territorial and tend to be able to get along with other rabbits, however, this is more the case with two females than with two males. Male rabbits may fight at first, but will soon learn to get along with one another. A male and a female will most likely begin breeding right away and rabbits have a relatively short gestation period of only two months. Rabbit litters generally contain about six rabbits.
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 10 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 the 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.