With a recent question from a potential applicant that got me thinking. She is an experienced bunny owner, who unfortunately lost her bun few months ago. Concurrently planning on expanding her family, she was worried how having infants and eventually toddlers would change her abilities to appropriately care for a bunny.
Let’s preface with a few simple facts:
- Bunnies unlike cats do NOT spread toxoplasmosis; so they are safe to handle during pregnancy and nursing.
- Bunnies are very easily litter trained (just clean their box once every 2 days a 15 minute commitment!)
- Bunnies need time commitment, but that not as active company as most dogs and some cats do; for starters, they don’t need to be walked outside.
- Bunny shedding is not specially harmful to humans (in normal non-allergic circumstances), in fact it’s more harmful to the buns themselves, if they ingest the hair than to us. (Easy combat measure: Quick, regular vacuuming)
- Bunnies wouldn’t attack a baby out of jealousy or territorial feeling (male bunnies attack other male bunnies but no known inter-species hate)
- Kids and toddlers need to be trained on handling bunnies, not the other way round
- Bunnies are relatively more contained than dogs or cats and most bunnies love the security of their cage for nap/ rest, eating and potty time.
Assuming that as a prior bunny owner, you already know what goes into caring for a bunny. Besides, food and shelter and the preliminary physical needs, I always profess abundant (2-5 hours at least) of passive company; whereby the bunny plays outside its pen or cage with humans in the room/ bunny space. That way they can come to you if they want to. Some bunnies like more active company and play, most don’t. Different personalities–just like people! So really depending on your bunny and the area, you could be reading/ watching TV/ eating/ fiddling with your phone/ clean the house while they play around you and enjoy your company. Of my 2 bunnies, one is more destructive and the other absolutely the opposite. So if your bunny is very destructive, my recommendation is to be more watchful and protect your books and wiring, but I don’t constantly need to run after her. My favorite things to do while I’m hanging out with them– my morning stretches, yoga, reading, working on a un-wired charged computer 🙂
How does having a infant/ toddler change things? My guess, firstly, is that you’d be busier than you are now; but you know your lifestyle and plans the best. So maybe you’d be able to spend a couple hours in the bunny area, within a few weeks/ month of having your baby? Maybe your partner or family member can fill in that void, if you can’t? Maybe the 5 hours is too much to ask, but is 1-2 hours doable in 30 minute phases?
Please note a big change in routine throws everyone off, but if gradually introduced, bunnies adapt pretty quickly.
Bunnies are great pets for growing families, when adults are the key-caretakers. Bunnies are nice, if anything, passive to kids and relatively easy to manage. However, I strongly believe bunnies are not gifts for kids, or pets for kids. Adult supervision is necessary at all times. And, kids need to learn proper handling. They need to learn to be respectful and kind to these very fragile but dignified fluffy friends.
In my opinion, bunnies who come into a family before the baby, gets time to acclimatize with its surroundings so the introduction of a baby does not throw it off. So I wouldn’t worry about behavioral problems or stress acting out, unlike a territorial dog or stressed out cat. But again, gradual change of routine, if any, is always helpful and proves more successful in long-term stability of the bunny and the baby’s bonding.
PS: As a first time expectant mom (to a human baby) and mother to 2 bunnies and a dog, the idea of peaceful and happy inter-species coexistence of is top-of-mind. While I haven’t actually held a baby in one hand and the bunnies and dogs in the other…. yet, I am reading, watching, asking and learning constantly. Because there is very little I want more than my 4 kids to be healthy, happy and peaceful together. If I am missing something, let me know, I’m all ears.