Rabbits are wonderful creatures that can (and should) become a valued part of the family. However, like many modern rabbit welfare organisations we do not recommend rabbits as ideal pets to be taken on specifically for young children. Under the right conditions rabbits can make good family pets if there is also genuine adult interest in their wellbeing, and the adults in the household are happy to take responsibility for their care and wellbeing. Rabbits are intelligent sensitive animals that deserve to be viewed as family members (in the same way as cats and dogs usually are).
The Rabbit Welfare Association (the leading authority on rabbit welfare in the UK) have the following policy statement on rabbits and children: "Rabbits are ground-loving prey animals, who become friendly and responsive when properly treated. But rabbits are vulnerable to injury if handled badly and rarely appreciate being cuddled. Therefore, rabbits do not make good children's pets, but can make successful family pets, if parents respect the needs of the rabbit and the limitations of the children. Adults must accept all the responsibility of caring for the rabbit."
The RSPCA believe: "The biology and behaviour of pet rabbits is very similar to that of wild rabbits. This means they have very complex needs and although traditionally thought of as good pets for children, this is not the case as they are not easy to look after well. Typically, rabbits live for 8-12 years, but some may live for longer."
Sadly, very often children do become bored with their pet rabbits. Therefore, we ask parents to think very carefully before taking on rabbits as child’s pets and consider two very important questions.
- Are you completely happy to take full responsibility for the rabbit’s welfare yourself for the rest of its life (up to 12 years) if your child loses interest? If the answer is no then we urge you please do not buy/adopt rabbits for your children.
- Are you still prepared to meet the welfare needs of the rabbit for the rest of its life (up to 12 years) it turns out not to be friendly/easy to handle, or requires expensive veterinary care? If the answer is no then we urge you please do not buy/adopt rabbits for your children.