With so many bedtime stories and cartoons about rabbits from Peter Rabbit to Bugs Bunny, you may soon find yourself being asked to keep one — a real one — as a pet.
Owning a pet has many positive impacts on the health of kids. Not only do they increase physical activity levels, but they can strengthen their immune systems and teach them how to consider the needs of others. When it comes to a first pet, however, selecting the right one for your family is essential.
There are many pros to owning a rabbit. Affectionate, quiet, and easily trained, rabbits are great for both large and small homes. But before you go giving in to their floppy ears, there are some practical things to consider.
So without further ado, here are the pros and cons of getting a rabbit for the kids, according to the experts.
Pet Rabbit Pros
- “By caring for an animal, children learn to consider the needs of others,” says Animal Behaviourist Laura Vissaritis. “Children aged six and older are generally able to take responsibility and show empathy, making the experience much more valuable.”
- They don’t need much room — unlike other pets, rabbits are happy in their cage during the day with a little roaming-around time at night.
- “Rabbits can be very affectionate and they are generally clean, easy to toilet train, and love to explore,” says Laura.
- Some people who are allergic to cats and dogs find they’re fine (and sniffle-free) around bunnies.
- They’re quieter than an elevator full of strangers; if you live in an apartment where noise is a problem, a rabbit could be the answer.
- Bunnies can live indoors and can even be taught to use a litter tray (although if you plan to keep them outside, a secure enclosure is essential to protect them from predators).
- Their droppings are relatively smell- and mess-free. Bonus.
Pet Rabbit Cons
- Some breeds grow quite large, so ask about how big the adult gets before you buy, or consider a smaller breed.
- Male rabbits should be de-sexed to avoid territorial behavior (peeing on you) and females must be spayed to prevent illnesses and breeding.
- They don’t get on well with other animals, so if you have a dog, you might find serious issues.
- “Rabbits have a need to chew to keep their teeth healthy,” says Laura. They’ll chew on almost anything — watch those electrical cords!
- They can bite and become aggressive if when they feel cornered.
- They’re more fragile than cats or dogs — children can inadvertently hurt or strangle a rabbit with rough play.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.