Congratulations to Richard CEVA Vet of the Year 2018

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWA&F) are absolutely delighted that their Vet Specialist Advisor, Dr Richard Saunders has been recognised as an animal welfare hero and awarded the prestigious title of Chris Laurence Vet of the Year , at the 2018 Ceva Animal Welfare Awards.

Richard was nominated for his dedication to improving rabbit welfare, in particular the huge amount of work involved in getting a new vaccine in to the UK to protect all pet rabbits against an emerging deadly disease (RVHD2). We all owe Richard a huge debt of thanks for his success in doing so, and for protecting all pet rabbits. So far we estimate in the region of 70,000 rabbits have been vaccinated thanks to Richard.

We’ve been busy bunnies!

We have had a very busy few weeks. Easter is always a busy time for media and we have done three interviews for BBC radio, including BBC Radio 4,  as well as having articles published in several magazines including the Mail on Sunday.

On Wednesday we worked with our friends from Burgess on the set of This Morning (thank you to Runaround for providing the binky box and tunnels) and it was a really great piece promoting rescue rabbits. We were behind the camera making sure the right message was given to the millions of viewers.

From there we went straight to Birmingham to the CEVA awards where we celebrated Richard Saunders being recognised as a Welfare Hero for the huge amount of work involved in getting the VHD2 vaccine in to the UK.

We then spent 2 days with Burgess at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) talking to Vet Professionals and launching Rabbit Awareness Week. It’s great to work with other such dedicated people.

Just a few of the things we have been up to!


We are aware of the outcry on Instagram surrounding a male in the USA who has killed 5 rabbits. Our Welfare Officer Mark Dron has started an investigation into this and has found that this individual is hiding behind multiple accounts; although Instagram do seem to be closing his accounts. Unfortunately as fast as they close them a new permutation of the user name appears.

The images are horrendous and do need to be dealt with. We are not going to share them. Mark has collated the evidence he has found and has passed it to the relevant authorities in the UK, who we hope will liase with their counterparts in the USA.

We wanted to let supporters know that although this is in the USA we have done what we can here, but also to let you know about a petition that
might be worth signing and sharing.

Is Peter Rabbit For Me?

Peter Rabbit The Movie

The long anticipated Peter Rabbit movie will be released in the UK on 16th March. A much loved, long-standing fictional character, yes, but the release of this film will undoubtedly increase the number of children who see the film to want their very own Peter Rabbit. Sadly, many parents will give in to ‘pester power’.

This social media campaign which the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund are about to launch to coincide with the opening of the movie in the UK, is a factual insight into what having rabbits as pets is all about. There is certainly more to rabbits than cute twitching noses and fluffy tails. This campaign has been designed to make adults who are considering getting a ‘Peter Rabbit’ for their child to think of the practicalities before taking the plunge

Please, please join us in spreading the message by sharing the 10 rabbit facts as far and wide as you can. Thanks.

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

Fact #1 300 poos a day!

Yes, okay, Peter Rabbit is uber-cute and you’ve seen the film and fallen in love. BUT, did you know that the average ‘output’ from a single bunny in a given day is 300 poos? We kid you not. That’s quite a lot of clearing up isn’t it?! Rabbits are pretty good at learning how to use a litter tray, but it does require a bit of patience and a lot of time to teach them. Have you got that time and patience? You can expect to have a thorough clean out at least once a week, but there will undoubtedly be some daily housekeeping duties to attend to in order to ensure that your rabbits living quarters remain clean and disease free.

Thinking that your child will take on this responsibility? Not in our experience. Children lose interest in pet rabbits really, really quickly, leaving Mum or Dad on poo duty!


Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #2 Having you own Peter Rabbit can mean very expensive vet bills…

So you’ve seen the Peter Rabbit movie and have decided you just have to have your very own Peter Rabbit. Rabbits are cheap pets right? You are *joking*! On average, a pet rabbit will cost the owners over £5,000 during their lifetime. Rabbits will need to be neutered and have regular trips to the vets for vaccination against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. If you are planning on getting rabbits as pets, you are most definitely recommended to get pet health insurance. This can cost upwards of £60 per year, per rabbit.

Even so, rabbits often have dental problems, which are rarely covered by insurance. If your rabbits are affected (and they are very likely to be, unless you feed them a grass/hay-based diet!) then the cost of essential regular dental treatment can quickly add up to hundreds of pounds each year.

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #3 Peter rabbit cannot live in solitary confinement, that would be cruel.

Even in the story, Peter lived with Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and his mother. Did you know that rabbits are actually very social creatures. Wild rabbits live in colonies, never on their own. Rabbits should be kept in neutered pairs or compatible groups.

Recent scientific research has confirmed that rabbits suffer from stress and loneliness if kept alone: they value companionship as much as food – and you wouldn’t keep them without food, would you?

So if you are seriously thinking of getting a rabbit, better make that rabbits as it would be cruel to keep one on its own.

And remember the 300 poos per day, that’ll increase to 600 when you get a friend for your rabbit. Not to mention the vet bills covered in fact #2.

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #4 Rabbits: a hutch is not enough

In the original tale, Peter lived with Flopsy, Mopsy Cotton-tail and his mother underneath the root of a fir tree. The reality is that Peter Rabbit and his friends in the real world need much more consideration for their living quarters.

Did you know it was the Victorians who first kept rabbits in hutches – a short term storage solution before the animals went to the pot?

We’ve moved on a great deal since then, but the habit of keeping rabbits in hutches has stuck.

Rabbits are not designed to live in a confined space. In the wild they roam over an area equivalent to 6 football pitches. They’re not designed to live alone either – wild rabbits live in large social groups, foraging, grooming each other and huddling together for warmth. Rabbits living alone experience high levels of stress.
Domestic rabbits are not fundamentally far removed from their wild cousins. They share the same need to run, jump, explore and share companionship with their own kind, so their accommodation must allow them to display these natural behaviours.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund recommends a minimum area of 10 x 6 (3m x 2m) which includes a shelter of minimum size of 6′ x 2′ x 2′, which allows rabbits some room to move, stand on their hind legs and enough space for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart. It is commonly accepted that a rabbit should have space for 3 hops, but it is commonly underestimated just how far 3 hops is – our tests show that 3 hops from an average sized rabbit covers 6-7 feet!
A hutch should only be a shelter and not the only living space. It should be attached to a secure run of at least 8′ x 6′. This gives an overall area of 10 x 6 (3 x 2)

Please bear in mind that these recommendations are all minimums – and like many things in life, bigger is better!
Rabbits also need stimulation, and companionship
Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #5 Peter Rabbit and his friends HATE cuddles

It’s a great myth that rabbits are cute and cuddly. Take it from us, they are not!

Although Peter Rabbit and his friends may look cute and cuddly, rabbits are ground loving creatures who are easily scared if they are swooped off the ground. This fear can quite easily turn to aggression and it is not uncommon for a frightened rabbit to scratch or even bite an owner in their bid for freedom. This is particularly worrying if you are intending to get rabbits as pets for a child. Children naturally want to pet cute furry animals and pick them up, but rabbits simply HATE it. If your child is looking for something soft and cuddly to pick up, then buy a fluffy toy, rabbits are not for them! Try this:

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #6 Kids lose interest in pet rabbits

If you and your child have seen the Peter Rabbit movie, no doubt you’ve fallen in love and think what a great idea it would be to have one as a pet.

Even before the film we’ve heard it *so* many times; “my daughter/son desperately wanted rabbits, they said they would look after them, we thought they would be easy to look after, but now my son/daughter has lost interest so we want to rehome the rabbits…”

Yep, no doubt about it, kids lose interest and very often less than six months after buying the rabbits. It’s not a good result for the rabbits (did you know there are currently ~67,000 rabbits waiting to be rehomed in the UK) and not a good result for the parent (what about all the money you spent on the hutch cage/food/vaccinations/neutering etc!).

Please, think long and hard before committing to buy rabbits for your child. Try a soft toy instead…

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #7 Rabbits cost more than you think: £11K!

£11K, for rabbits? We’re kidding, right? No, we’re afraid not!

Okay, so in the Tale of Peter Rabbit, it doesn’t seem as though rabbits cost much, apart from losing his little blue coat and shoes in Mr McGregor’s garden. The reality is different…

Although pet rabbits are usually inexpensive to buy, they should definitely not be seen as ‘cheap’ pets. Here’s why:

Building a safe, secure outdoor enclosed complex can cost several hundred pounds. Or, if you decide to keep your rabbits indoors, an indoor cage (remember that our minimum size of accommodation is the same as for outdoor rabbits) and essential equipment will not leave much change out of £300.

Your rabbits will need regular supplies of a good quality rabbit food, hay, and bedding.

Then there’s the vet bills and veterinary insurance covered in Fact #2…

We estimate that a pair of rabbits (and remember it cruel to keep just one rabbit) over their lifetime will cost around £11,000 – can you afford that?

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #8 Rabbits have complicated care needs

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is charming for sure and depicts a simple, idyllic lifestyle with Peter and his brothers and sisters being let out to play with hardly a care in the world. This is a long way from the reality of having rabbits as pets.

The days of a single rabbit in a hutch being given a dish of muesli should be long gone. Haven’t you heard A Hutch is Not Enough? We might have mentioned that once or twice! To be good rabbit owners you need to be able to provide all of this:
• A companion rabbit – rabbits need the companionship of one or more neutered rabbits. So if you are still planning on getting your own Peter Rabbit, make sure you get a Flopsy, Mopsy and/or Cotton-tail too.
• A hay based diet, with pellets and greens every day. Not lettuce though, this is soporific for rabbits and shouldn’t be fed. Without the right diet, rabbits can develop diseases and have problems with teeth.
• An area 3m x 2m (10 x 6ft) to live in all of the time, regardless of whether they are inside or outside. Yes, all of the time! This should have a shelter area, as well as a digging pit, a grazing area, a platform to look out from and room to rear up tall, run, jump and binky!
• Vaccinations every year, currently they need 2 different ones to protect them against both myxi and RVHD 1 & 2
• Cleaning out thoroughly every week and a spot clean every day. As well as a daily check for fly strike, especially in warm weather
• Taken to the vet at the first sign of change in eating habits or poo. Tomorrow is too late, if this means the emergency vet, then the emergency vet it is!
• A weekly health MOT
• An abundance of nose rubs

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #9 Rabbits can live forever

Okay, we’re exaggerating, but I bet you get a shock when you learn that it is not uncommon for rabbits to live for 10 years or more. Some rabbits have been known to live for 15 years!

Rabbits are often acquired for children (frequently following displays of “pester power”!) but it is essential to remember that the adult is always responsible for any pet… therefore at least one adult in the household must be prepared to commit sufficient time, energy and money to the rabbits for the next decade. Don’t forget, Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail may still be alive and kicking when your child heads off to College or University leaving you firmly with the responsibility! Rabbits are not cheap and easy children’s pets!

Still want rabbits…?

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:

Fact #10 There are already 67K rabbits in rescue centres

Do you truly want to add to that statistic? You need to ask yourself why there are such a *huge* number of abandoned rabbits in rescue centres all over the UK. Well now, let’s recap:

#1 – a single rabbit can produce up to 300 poos per day. Wow, that’s a lot of clearing up!
#2 – expensive vet bills. Neutering, vaccination, inevitable dental work…
#3 – rabbits should be kept in pairs or groups, not singly (calculate the poos and vet bills!)
#4 – rabbits need huge hutches – have you go the space in your home or garden. Did you know a suitable hutch complex can cost several hundred pounds?
#5 – rabbits, despite their appearance do not like being picked up and cuddled and can get aggressive when they become frightened.
#6 – children get bored of pet rabbits. It’s fact. Don’t give in to ‘pester power’.
#7 – expect to pay out £11,000 for rabbits over their lifetime (see #2 And #4)
#8 – complicated care needs , a Hutch is simply *not enough*
#9 – rabbits can live for 10 years and over. Many people don’t factor this in.

Still want rabbits…?

We hope you enjoyed our 10 facts helping you to decide if you really want your own Peter Rabbit. If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at:
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund:



RWAF Conference 2018


Langford Vet School, Bristol

23rd and 24th June

We are now taking bookings for our 2018 Conferences


RWAF Owner Conference 2018

2018 Owners pdf download details and booking form

The conference for owners and rescue workers can be booked here

RWAF Veterinary Conference 2018

The veterinary conference is open to vets, vet nurses and vet students and places can be booked here

2018 Vets flyer download details and booking form


In each case scroll down the page to see everything that’s on offer.

Once again we are very happy to be able to offer two days to all delegates. On the first day the two conferences will be separate and then on the second day all delegates will be brought together for the behaviour and welfare day. You can book just the Saturday or just the Sunday or for a discount both days together.

If you prefer not to book online we can take your booking by phone at the usual number 0844 324 6090 between 11 and 3 on weekdays.

Don’t miss your chance, book early. The number of places will be limited.


Extreme winter weather

With amber and red weather warnings for the severe weather in most of the country we are asking people to act quickly to protect their outdoor pet rabbits.

Pictured this morning in Edinburgh

Our normal winter advice doesn’t cover these extreme conditions so we would ask owners to bring their rabbits into unused garages or sheds. Or if that is not possible then bring them indoors. But please be aware that if you are bringing them into the house, keep the room unheated. Rabbits are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature so if you put them in a room that is heated, it will be dangerous to put them outside in the cold again.

If you can’t bring them into a garage, shed or into the house then follow our winter advice, but multiply it by 10.

Rabbits really do suffer in these conditions – in the wild they’ll stay underground in large groups sharing body warmth. Pet rabbits rarely have that luxury. Keep them warm and dry, keep them safe.