I’m the owner of two Thai rabbits that I’ve now owned for more than six years, and I’m also a former teacher. In the time I’ve owned my rabbits, I’ve had many parents ask me if I thought a rabbit would make a good pet for their child. If not, they then want to know how young is too young for a child to own a pet rabbit and how old should their child be before they decide to buy one?
How young is too young for a child to own a pet rabbit? – As a long-term rabbit owner, I don’t think the age of a child has anything to do with if they are too young to own a pet rabbit. What it does have to do with, however, is the emotional maturity of the child and if they are responsible enough to take care of a rabbit and treat it well.
If I had to choose an age, though, I would say any child younger than 10 years old should only have a rabbit as a pet if the parents are also actively involved in its care.
Rabbits are much more fragile pets than they first appear, in that they can easily break a leg if dropped, can injure their spines if you pick them up and they get scared, and can get sick very fast and die very quickly. Young children aren’t usually mature enough to take full responsibility for the care of a rabbit, as some of the extremely sick rabbits belonging to young children I have seen could probably testify to.
A parent’s responsibility for a pet rabbit – If you decide to buy your child a rabbit as a pet, you should only do so if you are willing to take on full responsibility for its care if your child becomes bored with it.
You should also be responsible for teaching your child how to take care of a rabbit — from how to clean a cage properly, to how much food to give it every day. From how to pick up and hold a rabbit correctly, to how to ensure the rabbit is never accidentally dropped. A rabbit can end up severely injured from an accidental dropping, or could die if it falls on its head or injures its spine.
If you do not have the time to teach your child how to take care of a rabbit correctly, you shouldn’t buy one. It’s not fair to the rabbit and it’s definitely not fair to your child.
Your child’s safety – While rabbits are cute and fluffy and look very cuddly, they can also bite and they do scratch. That’s why you should make sure your child knows not to stick his fingers through the bars of the cage, or startle the rabbit when it is sleeping.
Quite serious bites can occur if a rabbit is frightened suddenly, and that can put a child off from having a pet for the rest of his life.
Be honest – is your child mature and responsible enough? – You obviously know your child better than anyone else, so ask yourself if your child is emotionally mature and responsible enough to own a pet rabbit, or will he get bored and soon be ignoring it for more interesting things?
If the former, by all means buy a rabbit and teach him how to take care of it. He may just make an excellent pet owner.
If the latter, however, you’d probably be better buying him a new computer game or paying for him to take baseball lessons, as they are not things that he could physically harm. A neglected and ignored rabbit, however, is a very unhappy animal indeed, and no child should put one through that.