My thirteen year old daughter has been begging me since her last birthday to have a pet rabbit. I've been trying to encourage her to consider a dog or a cat. I don’t know anything about rabbits, and I've heard so many stories about people who have adopted one or two, only to have them die within the first year or two. My daughter assures me that she will take care of it, but I’m sure she doesn't know the first thing about rabbit care either. Should I go ahead and get a rabbit for her anyway?
Elizabeth, Los Alamitos
Before you adopt any pet, it is always necessary to research and prepare. All pets, no matter what kind, are huge responsibilities. Make sure your daughter understands that animals are living, breathing, feeling beings - not toys - that must be fed, cleaned up after, loved and cared for...each and every day, for years! Is she ready to take on that responsibility? As her mother, you know best.
Spend a day at the library. Check out books on rabbits and their care. Find out what veterinarians in your area provide bunny-care. When you’ve found one you like, find out the costs associated with preventative veterinary care. Your pet rabbit should be spayed or neutered to help it live a long healthy life and to prevent some bad habits such as marking territory. Will you be paying for these procedures or will your daughter have to earn her own money to pay. Again, this is something you should discuss before adopting.
After you've made the big step and brought a bunny home, please make it a house pet. So many people adopt rabbits and send them to a life in a lonely hutch out in the back yard or along the side of a house. Rabbits love affection and to be with their family. They make excellent indoor pets. Most people don’t realize this because all they have ever seen are rabbits in cages. A caged animal never has the opportunity to grow, emotionally, and develop its full personality.
There are some precautions to take with a house rabbit. First, make sure that all electrical cords are out of reach or covered. Rabbits like to chew. If they gnaw on a power cord, it can be deadly. Provide your rabbit with chew toys and other distractions to keep him from chewing furniture, rugs and other items. You may want to make a special bunny room that you isolate with the same special gates used to keep toddlers in safe areas of the house. The bunny room should be checked for all possible hazards and bunny-proofed.
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