A Guide to Teach Children the Importance of Caring for Pets: Rabbit Edition

September 1, 2021

It can be such a special moment when you introduce your child to their first pet. If your child’s first pet is a rabbit, then they may be about to embark on an amazing adventure. Rabbits are tremendously intelligent, curious and energetic creatures, but they may also require a lot of care and attention in their handling and treatment. There may be a lot for both you and your children to learn as you set out on this journey together. There has recently been a big push to improve the care we give our domestic rabbits so learning about their needs may help you to build a bond. If you are looking for some tips to help them look after their pet, then read on!

Reminding Them That No Two Pets Are Alike

You may want to start by explaining to your children that you cannot treat a rabbit the same way as you would treat a dog, for example. No two pets are exactly the same, and every species has their own specific needs, attitudes and behaviours. This may sound obvious to you, but if your child has observed how their friends behave around their pets and has had no other guidance, they may not know any better. You could consider reminding them that rabbits are unique and special, which brings us to our next point.

Encouraging Your Child To Do Their Research

As the adult, it goes without saying that a lot of the responsibility for the pet’s well-being is going to fall on your shoulders. But part of the fun is educating yourself and your child about this animal. You may want to set some time aside before you bring the pet home to do some research with your child about rabbits. You could think about visiting your library to see if there are any books on the subject and looking for websites focused on rabbit well-being and biology. 

Teaching Them The Importance Of Proper Handling

We have all been in a room where we’ve seen a child pick up an animal the wrong way. There are few things more upsetting than an animal in distress, not to mention the confusion of a child that does not understand what they did to make it so upset. It goes without saying that handling the animal is going to be one of the most exciting parts of owning a pet for your child. As the owner of the pet and as a parent, you should consider making sure that you have taught your child the correct way of handling it.

When it comes to rabbits, there are some key pointers. The first is that they are social animals, but getting them used to being handled, and human company in general, as early as possible may help them acclimatise sooner. You may want to remind your child that being picked up can be very stressful for an animal, and that making the rabbit feel as secure as possible may help. That means picking up while crouching or sitting down, so that there is not much distance between it and the ground. It means supporting all four of its legs and holding it tightly enough that it doesn’t feel like it will be dropped, but not so tightly that it feels like it can’t escape. Your child may need reminding about not picking a rabbit up by its ears or putting them on their backs.

Talking To Your Child About Looking After Their Rabbit’s Health

One of the most important attitudes to foster in a child when it comes to caring for their pet is that of being a guardian. You may want to think about explaining that an animal can’t always tell you what’s wrong and if they are in pain. Sometimes, they may actively hide the issue to avoid showing weakness. With that in mind, you may want to talk to your child about keeping an eye out for tell-tale signs of discomfort including grinding teeth, hunched posture, rapid breathing and pulling hair.

Think about creating a clear list of foods and plants that your rabbit should not be eating. You could think about describing the importance of a healthy diet for your rabbit, including plenty of premium hay, fresh grass and lots and lots of fresh water. When it comes to snacks, you could consider creating a chart of good and bad treats.  

You may want to talk to your child about the kind of illnesses and injuries that rabbits can suffer from. Of course, we all hope to avoid having to take our pets to the vet, but they may suffer from some kind of ailment at least once during their lives. You could think about introducing your child to your vet and getting them used to the idea of regular visits. Most rabbit owners are advised to visit the vet at least once a year until the pet is five years old, going up to twice a year after that.

It is of course up to you whether you want to share the financial cost of vet care with your child, but it could be part of the broader chat about responsibility. You could talk to them about how insurance can give you extra peace of mind. Think about researching pet insurance carefully to find out what is covered and what isn’t. You could compare rabbit insurance policies and quotes to find the right fit for you. EveryPaw offers 24/7 access to a team of UK vets and nurses with their policies, and they have an online portal to help you manage your policy with ease.

Getting Them Involved In Creating A Space For The Rabbit

One of the ways you could teach your child about caring for a pet is by making them a part of setting up their living space. Rabbits have particular needs because they are active, energetic and curious creatures. If they don’t have enough space and if they are not properly stimulated, they may become bored or aggressive. You can buy rabbit enclosures online but why not think about building a space together? 

You could start by working on building a safe, secure environment where they can run around. Then you could think about including plenty of shade, and a platform where they can survey their environment. You could also consider adding space where the rabbits can go to rest and feel comfortable. Think about making sure that the rabbits have access to fresh grass, as well as a supply of hay and fresh water. You may want to consider the weather they might be exposed to with so much heavy rain hitting the UK over the last month or so. Giving them a space where they can shelter could be just what they need. Think about talking to your child about the importance keeping their living area clean. Consider cleaning their waste matter about once a day and you may want to deep clean their hutch about once a week. Think about creating a daily routine with clearly assigned tasks. 

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