Oxfordshire Branch

Do rabbits make good first pets for children?

Rabbits are certainly a very popular choice for families who want to teach children about taking care of pets. They make good first time pets for children as long as the adults in the house are prepared to put in time to help, or maybe even take over!

Rabbits are highly intelligent, inquisitive animals which makes them incredibly entertaining and rewarding as pets for children. However, they have retained all their natural instincts from their wild cousins and so need an environment where this can be explored.


They are burrowing animals, so will dig whenever they get the opportunity, and will likely destroy your prized roses if given the chance! But they are also family orientated so most rabbits adore being stroked and snuggling up. This makes them good pets to live in pairs but do bear in mind they don’t like being picked up and carried, so children will need to understand this.

Rabbits enjoy interaction and can happily navigate through homemade mazes to find their favourite toys and treats, playing in boxes and plastic tubes and generally exploring. Children that enjoy building and solving puzzles might enjoy this, but adult supervision is needed to make sure nothing can topple onto them.

What daily care is needed for a rabbit?

Every day, your rabbit needs to be fed and watered. We recommend that fresh hay is used as the main feed, as it is closest to the natural diet. A pellet that is ‘extruded’ so contains all the cereals they need can be added (about an adult’s handful), with leafy greens to complete the meal. Apples and carrots are great as occasional treats as they are high in sugar and may give the rabbit diarrhea if consumed in great quantities.

Rabbits are clean animals and so tend to toilet in one place in the hutch, which makes it easy to provide a litter tray for ease of cleaning. This needs to be cleared every day, and straw bedding replaced if it is dirty or low. The good news is, all this can go into the compost bin and is relatively low on the smelly side!

Once a week it is recommended to give the hutch a thorough clean. That means taking everything out and washing down with clean water (no detergent). This is the perfect time to let your rabbits out into the (secure) garden or the large run for some vital exercise, exploration, interaction or grooming.

TIP: If there is green in the water bottle, try pouring a little bit of rice into it and giving it a good shake…

What vet care does a rabbit need?

Did you know that rabbits’ teeth never stop growing? This could become problematic if not enough gnawing food and toys are provided. The vet will need to check the teeth and nails at regular intervals, however you can trim your rabbits’ nails yourself, with proper learning if it’s required.

There are annual vaccinations for rabbits that need to be kept up to date, including myxomatosis, R(V)HD and R(V)HD2. These should be done every year and with proper care at home, this should be the only vet visit you need. Keep an eye out for flystrike, matted coats and diarrhea, all of which can be avoided, but need expert advice if they occur.

There is a lot of advice on the care of rabbits, if this is the first time you are thinking about taking one or two on. The links at the end of the article should give you a great start as a bunny owner.

Please be aware that RSPCA Oxford is currently experiencing an influx of rabbits that have been given up due to families no longer being able to take care of them. As rabbits can live for up to 12 years, we often find that children have lost interest and the adults cannot give them the time they need.

Find out more and adopt a rabbit from the RSPCA

We have rabbits in foster care that are looking for new homes. They all have slightly different personalities and needs, so please visit our ‘Find a Pet’ page or email steph@rspcaoxford.org.uk to show your interest.

Thank you for reading and enjoy your new rabbit!

Further reading on rabbit care:

Keeping rabbits as pets

How to take care of your rabbit

Keeping rabbits with other animals