The RSCPA is shining a light on the common issues of rabbit welfare as part of Rabbit Awareness Week (10 – 23 August).
Since the start of lockdown in March, the charity has taken 189 rabbits into its care.
Dr Jane Tyson. Rabbit welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “Rabbits are often a very misunderstood pet which means they are arguably one of the most neglected pets in Britain. This is why this Rabbit Awareness Week, we are highlighting some of the common issues we see with rabbit welfare.
“We have seen a huge improvement in the welfare of rabbits over the last few years, and during lockdown when owners have had more time to spend with their pets. Many more owners are realising that rabbits need to be kept in pairs, they need a larger space than a hutch at the bottom of the garden, and they need natural food such as hay and grass to keep them healthy, but sadly there is still some way to go for rabbits.”
Diet – rabbits need to eat a bundle of hay/and or grass as big as they are a day. They need this to help keep their teeth and tummies healthy.
Company – rabbits are very sociable creatures and need to be kept in pairs. They can form very strong bonds with another friendly rabbit
Housing – rabbits need a hutch, or shelter, with constant access to an attached run with plenty of room to exercise, play, dig and stretch out fully in any direction.
Time – rabbits will benefit from spending quality time with their owners – they can be taught tricks such as coming when they are called and retrieving objects and will also enjoy playing with lots of homemade enrichment items.
Vaccinations – it’s important to get rabbits vaccinated against preventable disease such as Myxomatosis, RHD and RHD2.
Neutering – to enable rabbits to live together, it is important they are both neutered – a good combination is a neutered male and a neutered female.