Rabbits For All!
Rabbits as pets are wonderful, but are you or your children prepared? A rabbit needs more care than most other pets!
Top 10 Rabbits As Pets
ALL rabbits make ideal pets and with the correct care, they bring lots of joy to any family.
But there are some breeds that are known for their different, more individual characteristics and personality traits, that make them more adept at fitting into a certain environment, situation, or type of person.
With this in mind, the differences between these breeds have meant that some varieties of rabbits have seen growing popularity among families with children, outdoor only rabbits, house rabbits and rabbits that make good companions, and it is these rabbits that have made it to the top of the following lists…
The Top 10 Pet Rabbits as Pets for Children are listed below.
The information on this page is very important if you are just starting out with rabbits, slightly unsure of a few aspects, or just have no knowledge at all about keeping rabbits as pets, especially where children are concerned.
Bonding Introduction – Rabbits Love Company
OK, so you and your family have decided you want rabbits, and that’s rabbit(s), plural of course, because rabbits just love being with other rabbits, either in a bonded pair or a close social group, it’s natural, wild rabbits thrive because of their strong hierarchy system.
But recreating this hierarchy with domestic rabbits is not as simple as you may think…
What Does Rabbit Bonding Mean?
Bonding rabbits means to find a suitable friend, partner, and companion for a rabbit that is on its own.
Rabbit bonding is a complex process and I recommend reading everything you can about it before you attempt the process.
Children And Rabbits As Pets – Are YOUR CHILDREN Prepared For A Rabbit?
Some families, that have never even had a pet cat or dog, think that rabbits would be the easier option.
However, the fact is that a rabbit takes more looking after than a cat or a dog!
A cat just needs a few streets, fields or gardens to roam around in, a bowl of food at a regular time of day, and a warm place to sleep. A dog might need a 20-minute walk twice a day or a large garden to romp about in, a tin of dog food once a day, and a blanket or basket) to sleep on.
A rabbit, however, needs a safe, secure and clean exercise area with at least 30 minutes twice a day. They also need “bonding” time with their owners for petting, grooming and general social interaction as they get depressed and lonely when left on their own. They need constant access to grass and hay with quality food pellets on a consistent basis. They also need a covered, clean, dark place to sleep and call their own which they’ll use consistently, no other place will do once it is established. Their home, living area, toilet area, and exercise area need to be clean, tidy and safe EVERY DAY. This all adds up to a MINIMUM of 3 hours of dedicated attention per day.
Your child will need to understand the above and A LOT more besides:
- General Care & Grooming
- Healthy Diet & Exercise
- Secure, Suitable Play Area & Bed
- Correct Handling
- Two-Way Communication
- Understanding Behavior
Children keeping rabbits as pets is a BIG responsibility and shouldn’t be a passing whim or phase.
Teaching children responsibility is a great lesson in life for a child but make sure the homework has been done first.
Not Just For Easter!
Rabbits live a surprisingly long time. Some breeds live for over 15 years. If a child has sole responsibility, they will need to work out when they intend leaving school, starting university, leaving the parental home, etc. and what will happen to the rabbits in those cases.
Rabbits don’t like to be separated from their loved ones – their owners. They will be depressed and suffer loneliness, stress and sometimes die from a broken heart!
Keeping rabbits as pets with children in mind should be very carefully considered. Most rabbit rescue centers or rabbit adoption homes will allow you to foster your choice of rabbits first. This is a great way of testing your children’s understanding and abilities before you commit. You’ll be amazed at the little problems that occur in the first few weeks. Rabbits will:
- Dash madly about & squeeze behind furniture to avoid being picked up.
- Chew skirting boards, doors, beds, rugs, wires, and shoes to clear a path to retreat.
- Bite if approached too quickly or too loudly.
- Kick, scratch and claw if held incorrectly (and possibly break their back if dropped).
- Get sick very easily through stress or poor diet
Test your children on their abilities in the first week. Their reward for high scores is, of course, rabbits!
Teach by Example
“It is not easy to manage young humans and animals, but when parents find solutions, rather than dispose of an animal for convenience’ sake, an important concept is communicated to the child. This is alive. This is valuable. You don’t throw it away.” – Marinell Harriman, Importance of Permanence
OK, So why have rabbits as pets then?
- can learn near-perfect litter box habits.
- are fun and interesting to watch.
- have different personalities and can be just as individual as dogs and cats can.
- don’t need a garden if given plenty of indoor, sunlit exercise space.
Rabbits are social animals that need the companionship of humans, or other animals like cats and dogs, but your family must have patience, understanding and an acceptance of individual differences to earn their trust.
Adults & Rabbits
Are YOU Prepared For A Rabbit?
As the responsible adult, you may have to resign yourself to the fact that your children just aren’t ready for any type of serious commitment or dedication to tasks and lack the fundamentals of a caring and compassionate attitude.
Are you prepared to share your life with rabbits?
The responsibility of rabbits as pets will then fall down to you, but be aware rabbits are very sensitive to changes to their feeding, cleaning, and exercise routines. Changes are stressful and may lead to illness. Symptoms of illness are often subtle changes in appetite, behavior and/or droppings.
It is unreasonable to expect a child of any age to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit (or any pet). The rabbit and your children, as well as the family peace, will benefit greatly from you accepting this notion.
Unless the adults of the household are enthusiastic, informed, and committed about the work involved, a stuffed rabbit is probably a better choice!
Prepared For The Years Ahead?
Rabbits can live from 5 years, for the larger giant breeds, to over 18 years for popular breeds such as the Jersey Wooly and the smaller lop-eared rabbits such as the mini lop.
Are you prepared for many years ahead of care, nurture, training, plus keeping supplies and equipment in stock, up to date and in working order?
Are you prepared to dedicate lots of time and energy to tasks such as cleaning, repairs to housing and grooming, etc?
Are You Prepared To Share Your Home?
A Hutch is NOT Enough
In order for a family and a rabbit to get to know each other, and for the rabbit’s best health, a domestic rabbit is better being an indoor pet, with as much out-of-cage time with the family as possible.
If you relegate your rabbit to an outdoor hutch, or even to an indoor cage for most of the day, your family will miss getting to know the special personality of the rabbit.
You wouldn’t cage your dog all day, you wouldn’t cage your cat all day. Just get out of the habit of thinking that rabbits should be in a hutch and all will be well!
Top 10 Rabbits As Pets For Children
Ready? Set? Go!
If you are completely prepared for rabbits as pets and your children have grasped the basic principles of keeping a pet rabbit, there are some breeds, in my opinion, that make quite good rabbits for children.
Here’s your Top 10 in no particular order:
1. Sussex –
This is a fairly new breed and with its teddy-bear looks and loveable character, the Sussex make great rabbits as pets for children. Very similar in nature to the family Labrador – friendly, outgoing, and a little bit greedy!
2. Mini Lion Lop –
Mini Lion Lops are mostly even-tempered and friendly rabbits. They can be very lively too and are very active, thriving on playing, attention and company. They must have plenty of opportunities to explore outdoors with toys too, such as cardboard tubes, boxes and even noisy cat toys.
3. Himalayan –
A popular children’s pet and house rabbit, they are small, generally very calm, with good natures and friendly. They are intelligent, playful and social rabbits that thrive on attention and are usually excellent with children, very tolerant, content to be cuddled and rarely bite or scratch.
4. Havana –
Noted for their docile and friendly temperament. Also can be playful with a bit of an attitude, (just like teenagers then) and quick to bond to their owners. They often win top honors at shows, so your children may want to take up breeding and showing this one!
5. Standard Chinchilla –
A docile and gentle breed with very soft, silky fur. They are intelligent, curious and playful rabbits and enjoy company and attention. Chinchillas are usually good with children and are also well-suited as house rabbits.
6. Florida White –
Gentle, tolerant rabbits that were bred for meat and to be laboratory test subjects. Now proving to be an excellent show rabbit and a beautiful pet with their small size making them ideal for youngsters to handle. Let’s get them out of those labs!
7. Californian –
With very similar markings to a Himalayan but larger, can weigh up to 12lbs, they are social, loving, quiet and reserved. Mild-mannered, even-tempered, calm, with good natures, friendly and non-aggressive making them an excellent choice of pet for children.
8. Harlequin –
Playful, docile, intelligent, and an excellent choice to hold and snuggle. They can respond to their own name and be litter box trained. They are gentle, so they would be ideal pets for small children. Showing them is a work of genius, the markings need to be just right!
9. Palomino –
Hardy and strong, this docile breed is popular as both a show rabbit and a pet. They are docile and have a good temperament. Well suited rabbits as pets as they get along well with people and are particularly good with children.
10. Thrianta –
These rabbits make super pets, known for their gentle dispositions and inquisitive natures, they are not too large and not too tiny to get hurt. They are a perfect starter rabbit for children who may be interested in breeding for show purposes.
Of course, we must not forget the traditional lop-eared bunny. There are many different varieties of lops and they all make extremely good pets.
If you still haven’t found the right rabbit for you and your family, then hop over and have a look at all the rabbit breeds in this extensive alphabetical list – there’s bound to be a breed there that you will fall in love with at first sight! We haven’t researched them all, but enough so that you can get an idea of what information is important.
Please Note – the top 10 rabbits that we have recommended above are only given as a guide and are not an exact science.
Please note the following:
- Rabbits have their own individual personalities just like people. Not all of them are sweetness and light!
- One rabbit may be friendly and loving yet another rabbit of the same breed may be bad-tempered and like to bite! Previous experiences like trauma, stress or bad handling may have affected their temperament.
- There are many other breeds that would be suitable for the above list, the breeds listed above are just an introduction to those breeds to get you started.
- A rabbit that is docile friendly and loving with you or another rabbit might be anti-social, bossy, dominant or even timid and insecure with someone else or another rabbit.
- All rabbits need a great deal of care, the right diet and plenty of exercise and attention – no exceptions!
Rabbits As Pets For Very Young Children
Rabbits Do Not Make Ideal Pets For Very Young Children If Tey Are Going To Be The Main Caregivers.
No child should be given the sole responsibility of caring for a rabbit. Those duties and responsibilities lay with an adult.
If you are not willing to assume full responsibility for the work and care involved, then please don’t adopt a bunny.
A child can, of course, get involved with the feeding, cleaning and playing with your bunnies but they should be supervised at all times.
There are some points to consider if a child is to be involved with the care of your rabbits:
- You can’t rely on a child to notice when a rabbit is ill.
- Older children may lose interest in rabbits as they grow into teenagers – other peer pressure factors being more rewarding.
- Children will start high school, college or university and schoolwork, socializing etc. will take priority. If they are starting university, they will be away from home of course and this is one of the most common reasons why rabbits are given to rescue centers.
Of course, there are also some good aspects of children caring for rabbits, or indeed any pet:
- A child often learns valuable lessons about responsibility.
- They develop compassion by caring and thinking about something other than themselves. A great lesson in benevolence!
- Children learn the value of hard work, especially when the hutch, house, cage or shed needs a good clean out!
- They also appreciate that their actions are time-sensitive. Changing water containers and regular feeding times being especially important.
An Australian rabbit breeder once wrote –
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 them, “How many times do you think that rabbit would have died if I hadn’t looked after it?”
My 12-year-old replied, “Once.”
On a Positive Note
Children have the amazing ability to build loving relationships with animals that is somewhat different from that of the animal connection between animal and adults.
The bond seems to be a more innocent and trusting one. Children and animals seem to understand each other in ways that an adult may overlook, can’t understand and therefore don’t experience.
Sometimes adults will look for problems when none exist or overdramatize certain situations. A child is much more relaxed and unassuming.
Making The Right Choice
Rabbits are all different.
Cats and dogs have their own unique personalities, rabbits do too.
Most domestic rabbit behavior is still linked to the ancestral habits of wild rabbits, but still, each rabbit retains their own ‘personality’!
A grouchy rabbit has a good reason for bad antics, a happy bunny, sad bun or even a depressed bunny can be read and understood if you recognize the signals and act accordingly.
Different Strokes – Not all rabbits are the same, they all have different personalities, but some breeds will be more suited to YOU.
Guys & Dolls
Knowing what sex you want when choosing ONE rabbit will narrow your choice by 50% straight away but please note, if you are just starting out with rabbits then understand that rabbits prefer to live in pairs.
In fact, it’s a very poor shop/breeder/rescue center etc. that doesn’t inform you of this when you are first starting out.
Domestic pet rabbits prefer to live in pairs or social groups, just like they do naturally in the wild.
Letting you go merrily on your way knowing you only will ever have one bunny, is negligence and is rather sad for the bunny that is to spend the rest of his or her days not being licked, snuggled and groomed by another bunny companion.
So, with that knowledge in hand, you’ll be needing two wonderful bunnies!
There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to bunny parings…
- Boy & Girl – Perfect
- Boy & Boy – OK
- Girl & Girl – Oh Dear!
Boys Vs Girls
One of each sex is ideal as rabbits prefer this scenario but if two of the same sex are together, it’s better that they are two boys rather than two girls.
Does (females) start ‘nesting’ habits as they get older and will dig, scratch, nibble, and tunnel at anything given the chance. This behavior is particularly bad if they haven’t been spayed as hormones rage to control, dominate and protect. This leads to territorial and aggressive behavior towards other rabbits and even us.
Bucks (males) that have not been neutered can be hyper and spray a lot. They can also be quite sexually aggressive towards females. But generally neutered bucks are much more laid back.
NOTE: Not all rabbits get these behaviors. Some rabbits will never show any aggression, spraying or territorial behavior at all whether neutered or not.
If you neuter your rabbits, most of these unwanted behaviors and problems will disappear as they are caused by the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Be aware also that some rabbits like the Dwarf Lop (Mini Lop), Cashmere Lop, Holland Lop, and American Chinchilla don’t have bad spraying habits but they do like a good degree of courtship behavior (circling and chin rubbing.)
If you wait to give your rabbits neutering surgery after these bad displays of aggression have started, then the surgery may be successful in some cases but not in all, as enough time will have passed to let the behavior become a habit.
That “Je ne sais quoi” – “I don’t know what,” is that uncertain something that all pets have, that draws them to you.
It’s knowing that this little bunny is your perfect friend and will listen to your every blithering word.
It’s something admirable in that big round show bunny you just love and burst with pride over.
It’s that look from bedraggled, helpless rescue rabbit that you can’t help acting on when you look deep into their pleading eyes.
LIKE attracts LIKE. Two subconscious things connect between you, and sometimes an instant bond is formed, right there and then.
It’s the Attractor Factor!
When it happens, you just can’t miss it or ignore it.
If you are lucky enough to come across ‘it’ when seeking your perfect bunny, sometimes the Universe letting you know that it has done all the decision making for you already.
Grasp the offering with both hands and love it for as long as you can!
Perfect Rabbit Names
Your Rabbit Needs The Right Name
Every bunny has a personality and that should be reflected in their name.
You’ll be using their name a lot over the years, to train, to call to talk about, so it should be the right one!
Where To Get Your Rabbit
Rabbit Rescue Centers / Breeders
- Adoption & Re-homing Centers
Rescuing a rabbit from a shelter or charity is by far the best way to find your perfect rabbit pal. There are adoption and rescue centers worldwide, so you should be able to find one near you. I’m sure you’ll find your perfect home companions just waiting for you there.
And you’ll “just know” when you see them too!
- Registered, Reputable Breeders
If you wish to breed your rabbits to protect the line of a rare breed or you wish to show your rabbits at exhibitions etc, then sourcing from a reputable, recommended breeder is the way to go.
There are many good breeders listed in the Rabbit Associations or Rabbit Organizations for your country.
- Unless you know where the rabbits are coming from, try not to but from pet shops. The reasons here are the same as they would be if you were getting ready to purchase a puppy. This is a viewpoint held by most rabbit breeders across the country.
To Sum Up
Hopefully, you are now finishing this page with enough of the right stuff to make an informed choice about rabbits as pets for your family and to know by now if your children are ready to take on a pair of rabbits.