Rabbits are a popular first pet for children, as they are friendly, characterful and can teach your child valuable lessons in terms of responsibility. That said, they do require daily care and as a parent, you will need to take most of the responsibility for ensuring the animal is cared for sufficiently.
There is a whole range of domestic rabbit breeds, exhibiting different physical features and more importantly, behavioural traits and care requirements, which make some easier first companions than others.
The decision to buy a rabbit should be a serious one, as with any other animal which is dependent on us for care. Rabbits can live up to 12 years and are a substantial financial commitment.
As social animals, if you have made the decision to get a rabbit for your child, you may want to consider getting two of them for companionship. However, it is advisable not to put two males together, as they will generally fight and a female will be sexually mature by 4 months. That leaves two females or an older neutered male or female.
When getting a baby or young rabbit, it is very important to take the time early on to gradually get them accustomed to being handled. Children must be supervised to ensure they are not stressing the rabbit or incorrectly handling it, which could result in injury to the animal and anxious or skittish behaviours later in their lives.
Here are some of the types of expenses you should expect to pay when purchasing a rabbit. It’s worth estimating these on an annual basis to decide if this is affordable for you.
- Initial purchase price of two rabbits
- Large, spacious cage
- Cage accessories, like gnawing blocks, water bottles and food bowls.
- Large run
- Substrate (straw) and bedding (hay)
- Dry food, fresh veg, treats and hay
- Vaccinations – initial and boosters
- Additional treatments e.g. a spray to avoid fly strike in the summer
- Dental and teeth maintenance
Types of Pet Rabbits
Here are a few breeds with temperaments, that suggest they could be the best option to choose from when looking for a suitable pet rabbit for your child.
The Dutch rabbit is one of the more common rabbit breeds, with their striking and distinctive markings and colour pattern, you can see why.
As a breed, they are usually placid and docile animals, making them easy to tame and handle. As long as they are handled correctly and socialised early on, they are one of the best choices for families with children.
2. Mini Lop
The miniature lop-eared rabbit is an extremely popular species, probably the most popular. They are adorably cute to look at and have personalities to match! They tend to be very playful, inquisitive and easy to train. This breed requires intellectual stimulation, so will require regular interaction, exercise, toys, and play. Perhaps more suited to slightly older children but can be suitable for younger children with regular supervision of an adult.
Himalayan rabbits are one of the best choices, of the breeds available, for children. They are renowned for being laid-back, gentle, friendly and curious. They are beautiful in appearance and love to cuddle, rarely ever known to bite or scratch. They enjoy playing and seek out attention and entertainment, so will require lots of enrichment in the form of toys, exercise, and interaction.
Chinchilla rabbits are silky and fluffy, closely resembling the look and feel of the Chinchilla rodent. As a result, they are very popular with children, who love to pet them! They have a playful and inquisitive nature and enjoy to spend time other people and animals.
5. Mini Rex
Mini Rexes have silky soft fur, just like velvet. They are incredibly sweet and adorable little creatures and are cute and cuddly in nature, which makes them quite suitable as a family pet. Their small size means they are very easy for a small child to safely handle and pet. However, these are not as child-friendly as the breeds mentioned above.