Is Your Child Ready for a Bunny?
Updated: Feb 13
Here are several things to consider before deciding
"Toy bunny or real bunny? Which one is my child ready for?"
Welcome to our blog post! Here we attempt to give you a fresh perspective on everything bunny and rabbit related based on our experiences in The Rabbitry. Enjoy!
Traditional stories portray bunnies as being cute and cuddly. Now do not get us wrong. Here at The House of Ritter Rabbitry, we completely agree! Seriously, our bunnies make us melt with their level of cuteness and we love nothing more than to cuddle for hours with these babies. However, if we told you that it was all perfection, then we would be writing a fictional children's book and not a truthful blog!
"Toy bunny or real bunny? Which one is my child ready for?"
Below, we have a few points to keep in mind about bunnies, as well as some things to consider before you bring that bunny home to your child.
Each bunny is born with their own personality. It starts with the parents that were chosen to be paired together, how the mother was cared for during her pregnancy, and how those babies were raised during the critical first months of their lives.
As bunnies start hopping out of their nest and taking those first few steps towards independence, they come into their own childhood. They want to dash around their environment and explore the world outside of their home. They may chew cords, scratch on carpets, and run away from your child. Since they are a prey animal, keep in mind they startle easily and will try to do anything possible to get away from a self perceived frightening situation. One of their most common defense mechanisms is using their powerful hind legs to kick away and flee. These behaviors can frighten a child, and that dreamy story book bunny can lose it cuteness fairly quickly.
Now the above snapshot is not meant to scare you away or make you think your family's bunny will be awful. But this is to give you an idea of what may happen for a variety of reasons and circumstances. With this in mind, let's talk about what makes a bunny a great companion.
Why do bunnies make great family companions? They all have unique personalities that make them special to you. Take our bunnies for example. Daisey does not know she is an actual bunny. She sees herself as an equal to us. She insists on being a part of pizza night and loves lounging while watching the soft flames dancing in our fireplace. Twinkle is a very nervous and shy bunny that dreams of being brave. So we got her a big, fluffy, hot pink igloo to hide in but that still allows her to look out safely and see the world go by. That safety gave her the courage to slowly step out and explore our home while building her bravery. Wooley Bully is a dignified Angora that keeps his coat in perfect condition, his hutch clean, and quietly explores our home for a few moments and then sprawls out in our kitchen and naps. And Clover, this guy insists upon riding on our shoulders everywhere we go. Maybe he was a parrot in a past life?
Our point is simple: Whoever your bunny becomes will be unique! And the more your family puts into your bunny, the more you will receive in return.
Bunnies also make great family companions because they are quiet. No barking because they heard a noise, no meowing to let them out, no singing early on a Sunday morning when you want to sleep in, and no squeaky wheel throughout the night. Whether your house is quiet and reserved or loud and busy, you can be assured that your bunny will keep the quiet!
Bunnies can also be litter trained. This helps greatly in keeping your home clean and your bunny healthy. They also do not need to be bathed. In fact, bunnies will groom themselves multiple times throughout the day. And since they have no odor, it is a win win situation for everyone.
Bunnies are also easy to care for. They need a safe home they can call their own, such as a hutch or an enclosed area. They require pellets for a food staple and hay to keep their digestion strong. Fresh water, fruits and vegetables round out their diets. For their mental health, they need to be let out of their safe home daily for exercise. You can keep them confined to one room or allow them to free roam your entire home. Bunnies can also be very playful. They enjoy a variety of toys to move around, mess with, and chew on. From store bought toys to homemade ones, your bunny will appreciate the fun!
Your Child and a Bunny
Here is the not so pleasant truth about children and bunnies: no matter what companion you decide to get for your child, or what "pet" your child is begging for, it is YOU who is ultimately responsible for this new family member.
Many websites and experts will tell you to avoid getting a bunny for a child, and will include a lengthy lists of cons to further persuade you against your decision. Often times shelters will not adopt a bunny to a family with younger children. Even well known media personalities will quickly make you feel foolish if you have brought a bunny into your home. Especially if a problem arises, instead of offering a solution, you may be faced with a "I told you so" situation when you reach out for help. Maybe you decided to avoid all of this and just go straight to the closest pet store to find your new bunny. You may walk out easily with one, but remember, pet stores need to make a quick sale before that item got "too big."
All of the above scenarios leaves you on your own to deal with a new bunny that is probably feeling just as scared and as frustrated as you are.
So, before you decide to bring a new companion into your home, whether it is a bunny, a gold fish, a bearded dragon, a blue parakeet, a hairless cat, or a Saint Bernard, remember that your new companion is ultimately your responsibility. If your child is aggressive, looses their temper easily, and just does not care about keeping their belongings intact, a bunny is not a good choice. And, let's be honest, deep down inside only you know your child the best. Follow your instincts! But if your child has taken the time to read about bunnies, has asked for one for a while, and has even offered to use their own saved money to purchase one, these are all positive signs that your child is ready for a bunny and has the foundation to become a great bunny parent.
Children thrive when supported by the adults in their lives. Take the time to talk with your child and, most importantly, listen to them. Learn with them. With some careful consideration, you may not be as responsible for as much as you originally thought you would be!