Hidden Dangers of Unusual Pets

What to know about guinea pigs, snakes, ferrets, iguanas and more
black and white rabbit Photo: Konstantin Sutyagin/Shutterstock
boy holding guinea pig
gerbil
ferret
ball python
green iguana
box turtle
yellow cockatoo
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Rabbits

Rabbits are less dangerous to humans than we are to them. If you have kids, think twice before you hop over to the pet store for one. “Our culture is so filled with images of children and rabbits together … that many parents see rabbits as low-maintenance starter pets for kids. Nothing could be further from the truth,” writes Mary E. Cotter, EdD, on the ASPCA website. Rabbits require an especially quiet environment and, according to the ASPCA, are physically delicate and fragile, making them unsuitable pets for small kids. They may scratch or bite kids who try to carry them around or “love them” too aggressively.

Rabbits rarely pass along disease to humans. Just to be safe, though, it’s best not to live with a rabbit if you have a compromised immune system due to age or illness. And to be on the safe side, wash your hands after handling your rabbit or cleaning its cage, says the House Rabbit Society.