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Rabbit Awareness Week

Rabbit Awareness Week 2021

It’s Rabbit Awareness Week so if you’re a new rabbit owner or are thinking of getting one as a pet, you’ve come to the right place!

Read on for our top tips on rabbit care, and what to consider before buying one.

Rabbits are social animals and should never be kept alone

two rabbits - Lucy D Photography

Rabbits need other rabbits as friends and will become very depressed if kept alone. You should always have at least 2 rabbits to keep each other company.

Rabbits need spacious living accommodation

rabbit housing

Whether they live indoors or outdoors, rabbits need spacious living accommodation and access to a large running area to meet their welfare needs; a hutch is not enough!

The Rabbit Welfare Association recommend a minimum living area for 2 average sized rabbits is a single enclosed area of at least 3m x 2m by 1m high.
This is the MINIMUM but bigger is always better! Many people don’t use hutches at all any more, but will house their rabbits in a specially built enclosure or converted shed.
The same footprint is recommended for indoor rabbits.
Your rabbits’ accommodation should include a sheltered area (often referred as their house) and this should be attached to a predator-safe run or enclosed garden so your rabbits can choose to go in or out as they please during daylight hours.
For inspiration and some really good examples of suitable rabbit housing see The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund and Rabbit Awareness Week

Rabbits need the freedom to exhibit natural behaviours


Rabbits need the freedom to be ….. well, rabbits!

They need to be able to display natural behaviours like running, digging, jumping, grazing and binkying (binkying is when a rabbit leaps in the air for joy!).

For this they need access to an enclosed garden or big run where they can let rip and behave as they would in the wild.

Rabbits need the correct diet

rabbit hay
Rabbits’ diet should consist of 85% grass (like Readigrass – not lawn clippings) and feeding hay, 10% green leafy veg and 5% good quality nuggets, as well as constant access to fresh water.
An incorrect diet (such as feeding rabbit muesli) can lead to serious and potentially fatal health problems like gut stasis and dental problems.

Rabbits need to be kept clean

Rabbits’ homes need frequent cleaning out, and rabbit bums need to be checked every day to make sure they are clean.
Failure to do this can lead to flystrike, where a fly lays its eggs on impacted faeces, and once hatched the maggots start to eat into the rabbit’s skin. Flystrike is a potentially fatal condition, and if you see a maggot on your rabbit you should take them to the vet straight away.
Check out our handy video guide to giving your rabbit a basic health-check!

Rabbits need frequent grooming

Rabbits – especially long-haired varieties, need to be groomed frequently to avoid matting of the fur. Mats can cause some really serious problems for your rabbits, but thankfully a regular groom can prevent them from happening.

Find a rabbit-savvy vet

While most vets are brilliant with more common pets like cats and dogs, not all vets are experts with smaller animals such as rabbits.
It’s therefore necessary to find a rabbit-savvy vet to ensure you always get the correct treatment for your rabbits. It’s often most helpful to ask other rabbit owners their experiences with vets local to you.

Rabbits need to be vaccinated every year

There are three fatal diseases which are prevalent in the rabbit population – Myxomatosis, RVHD (Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic  Disease)-1 and RVHD-2.
Thankfully all of these diseases can be prevented by vaccination, and it’s important to make sure that your rabbits’ vaccinations are up to date each year.

Rabbits don’t make easy pets for children

Did you know? Rabbits aren’t big fans of being picked up and cuddled. Being prey animals, most rabbits don’t like being raised up in the air where they feel vulnerable. There are exceptions to this of course, but most rabbits prefer to be stroked while they are on the ground.
Having sharp teeth and claws and powerful back legs, rabbits can give a swift kick or a bite and can injure children if they are not handled correctly.
Often children will lose interest in rabbits when they realise they are not going to be the cuddly pets they expected.
This is the main reason that leads to 67,000 rabbits going into rescues every year in the UK.

A rabbit is a 10 year commitment

Rabbits can live, on average, for 8-12 years so when you take them on its important to consider whether you will be able to commit to them for their whole lives.
Children can often lose interest in pets, so it’s also important for parents to be willing to undertake the commitment of the rabbits’ care in that case.

A rabbit can cost you up to £11,000 in its lifetime

Yes, you did read that right! After the initial outlay for your rabbits housing and predator-proof run, there are ongoing costs for hay and food and veterinary visits which can be very costly and can add up over the years to a whopping £11,000.
It’s important to make sure you have not only the time to commit to your rabbits’ needs but also the financial resources to be able to care for them properly.

Do your research first

As with any new species you are considering bringing into your family, if you are considering getting rabbits as pets, it’s vitally important to research them very thoroughly first. 67,000 rabbits every year go into rescues in the UK, because people did not realise what they were taking on when they bought them.

Be part of the solution – adopt, don’t shop

If, after researching rabbits fully, you are prepared to make the commitment to giving them their forever home, please do consider adopting rabbits rather than shopping.
You’ve heard about puppy mills, but did you know that rabbits in pet stores are also often mass-bred for profit with little or no regard for health or the genetic makeup of the lines? They can often suffer from many health issues during their lifetime as a result.
There are thousands of rabbits sitting in rescues all over the UK, all waiting and hoping to find new homes and a second chance at a happy life. We have many lovely rabbits at our rescue centre all hoping to find loving new homes and would be happy to help you find the right rabbit or rabbits for you.
We also offer a bonding service if you are looking for a new friend for your lonely bunny at home.
Call us on 01803 812121 or see the rabbit pages on our website  for more info.