Brachy breeds – not just dogs! Rabbits too.

We see a range of common problems in rabbits which have been bred for shorter, “cuter” faces, such as the Netherland Dwarf and Lionhead, due to the shortening of the upper jaw relative to the lower, giving a slightly undershot appearance. In rabbits, with their continuously growing teeth, which need to grind against their opposing number to maintain their length and shape, the consequences are more severe than in dogs. The front teeth grow in an uncontrolled fashion, jutting out of the mouth, and preventing them from eating. And their roots become elongated and distorted at the same time, causing problems below the gum line, such as blocking the nasolachrimal duct. That short top jaw means that this duct, the tube carrying tears from the eye to the back of the nose, is already tortuous and easily blocked. This is one of the reasons (along with the effects of front tooth dental disease), why rabbits may have tears or even pus overflowing from their eyes, an unpleasant and potentially painful condition. The effective “crowding” of the back teeth inside the mouth may also be a factor in the huge number of rabbits which go on to develop dental disease there.

Rabbit breeding facility – letter of objection

This is our letter of objection to the proposed rabbit breeding facility. Although welfare is our concern, it is not a planning concern, so any objections should be based on the relevant planning policy.

This is the planning application:

Objection to planning application ref: H23-1295-16 – Proposed building for the breeding of pet rabbits on Land off Whale Drove, Whaplode Drove, PE12 0UB

I am writing to register an objection to the above planning application on behalf of the Rabbit Welfare Fund (RWF), who have several concerns relating to the development proposal. The following points of objection are raised in respect of the application to erect a building for the breeding of pet rabbits on land off Whale Drove. The main areas of concern over the planning application have been broken down into material considerations, with an assessment of how each aspect fails to meet the relevant planning policy. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out three dimensions to sustainable development as economic, social and environmental. While the proposed scheme at Whale Drove could contribute towards the local economy, in respect of the social and environmental benefits the proposals are seriously flawed. The social and environmental aspects will be considered more fully in the following paragraphs. By failing to meet the social and environmental requirements of planning policy, the proposal cannot be considered sustainable and is not in compliance with the NPPF or Policy SG4 (Development in the Countryside) of the South Holland Local Plan 2006 and Policy 10 (Employment Development in the Countryside) from the emerging Local Plan. The agent’s supporting Planning Statement claims that the proposed use is an agricultural use and therefore is compatible with a rural location. In fact, the rabbit breeding facility is not classified as an agricultural use if the rabbits are being bred for domestic pets. The use could only be classified as agricultural if the rabbits are being bred for their meat or fur. On the basis that the proposed pet breeding facility is not an agricultural use, nor a land-based rural business, the development does not need to be located in a countryside location. Policy 10 (Employment Development in the Countryside) of the emerging Local Plan does not make any provision for businesses that are not agricultural or land-based in rural, countryside locations. Accordingly the proposed development is incompatible with the countryside location and the proposed location is unsustainable and contrary to Policy 2 (Spatial Strategy) of the emerging Local Plan. This type of business should not be located in the open countryside, which ordinarily its protected from development in order to preserve the countryside and the landscape character. As such the proposal is thought to be contrary to Policy 29 (Design of New Development) of the emerging Local Plan and would be incongruous in this countryside location. No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that there are no suitable buildings or sites within a settlement available for the purpose identified. Furthermore the proposal is not justified by a business plan. Both of these requirements are identified in Policy 10 (Employment in the Countryside of the emerging Local Plan, and hence the proposal fails to meet the policy criteria. As mentioned above, no business plan has been submitted with the proposals, and on the basis of the Inspector’s comments in the previous appeal decision for the site, there is doubt over whether the business can run profitably. The RWF have serious concerns over the viability of the business, on the basis that pet ownership of rabbits has dropped from 1 million in 2014 in the UK to 0.8 million in 2016 in the UK (TNS). With the demand for rabbits in the UK falling, the long term viability of the business is put into further doubt. If the business is not sustainable in the longer term, then planning permission should not be granted, as the harm caused to the landscape character by the erection of a new building, completely unrelated to any other built form in the locality cannot be justified in any way, and again, would be contrary to Policy 10 of the emerging Local Plan. Given that the location of the development is remote from all services and the site is not served by any sustainable methods of transport, the proposal will generate an increase in traffic accessing the site (which is in an unsustainable location) generated through workers accessing the site and customers coming to view and collect animals. This is contrary to paragraphs 30 and 37 of the NPPF. A commercial business such as this should not be located away from more built up and more accessible areas. Further concerns regarding the proposal relate to a security/crime risk at the site, due to no 24 hour on-site presence being available. This problem is exacerbated through the fact that the site is in such an isolated location. Finally, the RWF are also concerned over the welfare of rabbits that would be bred at the proposed facility. Very limited detail is included within the planning application on the enclosures, and as a commercial breeder the applicant would need to meet relevant legislation in terms of providing the correct standard of breeding cages and also transportation of the animals. On the basis of the information submitted with this proposal it is not understood whether the relevant welfare standards can be met, which casts further doubt over the viability of the business, should the facility then be required on welfare grounds to breed rabbits at a lower intensity. I trust that the local planning authority will give due weight to the points of objection identified in this letter and resolve to refuse this planning application accordingly.

Time to Make Your Rabbit Resolutions!

We can all be a bit critical of New Year’s resolutions but some do stick, so here are some resolutions for anyone who wants to help pet rabbits – amongst the most neglected and misunderstood pets. Please take a look at the suggestions below and make some rabbit resolutions! And yes, some resolutions do only last a month, so we’ve included some January specific ideas too! Please share!

  1. Order an ‘On the Hop’ booklet and give it to someone you know who has a bunny, they could use some extra advice and information.…
  2. Raise money for the RWAF’s “A Hutch is Not Enough” campaign at no cost to you by using Give as You Live when you shop on-line. Or use Easy Fundraising, which does exactly the same thing: Or The Giving Machine:
  3. Adopt a bunny! If you have a single rabbit then think about adopting another. Sociability is a huge part of a rabbit’s make-up so every bunny needs some bunny to love. Rescues have been inundated this winter and most are full and not able to help any more. Please check out or to find a rescue local to you, and talk to them about adopting a friend for your bun.
  4. If you can not adopt, then you can support your local rescue by offering to help clean out, or donate hay and food.
  5. Spread the word – during January please pledge to share one of our posters or messages every week. Help us educate lots of other rabbit owners about good diet, housing, companionship and health issues because sadly, many owners don’t know what their rabbits need to live happy and healthy lives. Please share this post for starters and keep an eye out for future postings and get busy with that share button! If and when we share a poster, please print it off and ask a local pet shop, garden centre, school or place of work to display it.
  6. Change your cover photo to our ‘A Hutch is Not Enough’ image (attached to this posting) for a month.
  7. Order one of our “A Hutch is Not Enough” car stickers for only £2 and help spread the word! If you don’t have a car then any window will do!…
  8. Look for the leaping bunny logo: and make sure any cosmetics and household products you buy are not tested on bunnies (or any other animals). M&S, Superdrug, Co-op, Sainsbury and Barry M are among the brands that all offer cruelty free options.
  9. If you are not already a member then please join us! You will love Rabbiting On Magazine. We do our best to keep our members up to date on the latest health, behaviour and welfare issues and use recognised experts, so you can trust us. And of course there are plenty of pictures of our favourite pets too! Join up on a subscription and get all 4 issues as they come out each year.… Please note these links are for UK delivery only, for outside of the UK please contact us at
  10. Last but by no means not least – please remember to always give your bunnies the lives they deserve. They need plenty of space, the right diet, companionship, health checks and an enriching environment to allow them to display their natural behaviours. Let them be rabbits! Thank you everybody, have a fantastic new year!


Re the inadvertent presence of permethrin in a brand of cat flea control products…/1is1zfxy1hl1p2fkpfehwg… it’s worth reviewing the situation for rabbits. This chemical is VERY toxic in cats, and much less so in rabbits, but given the unknown nature of the situation, in particular how much is present in the product, we would strongly advise against using this product on rabbits, and to return it immediately. As a general rule, it’s important to only use flea control products designed for and licensed for rabbits, unless given under the direction of your veterinary surgeon. In particular, products containing the drug Fipronil are contra-indicated in rabbits


“With regard to the recent licensing of ERAVAC in the UK, we are pleased that another option to help prevent RHD2 is available. However, due to the lack of some product information it makes it difficult to give accurate advice at this time. We are discussing this situation, and its impact on other vaccine types, with the VMD and in the meantime can only suggest that owners and vets discuss the options and make a decision based on the specific circumstances of the rabbit(s).”

Filavac makes top 10 SIC in last two quarters

Between 1st April 2016 and 30th September 2016, according to the Veterinary Medicine Directorate newsletter “MAVIS” 2025 Special Import Certificates were issued for “Filavac”. Combining this with the results of an FOI request in July, showing how many doses were requested for each application, we estimate that somewhere around 72,500 rabbits may have been vaccinated to date. This is down to the tireless efforts of Rabbit owners in requesting this vaccine from their vets, those owners and others who have catalogued cases of RHD2 and made that information available to inform decision making, and vets, vet nurses and practice managers who have organised SICs, importing, and vaccine clinics for their practice. We are also eternally grateful to Dr Richard Saunders for making this process possible in the first place by establishing the demand for the vaccine and setting it up with the VMD, and the veterinary wholesalers for making the vaccine available. Whilst its always important to note that no vaccine offers 100% protection, and that there are occasional side-effects to vaccination, we are very pleased that its been possible to offer the best possible protection to the UK’s rabbits over the past few months. FOI Source:

ERAVAC RHD2 vaccine

The recent licensing of ERAVAC RHD2 vaccine for use in the UK is important in that it further recognises the concerns of the regulatory authorities and drug companies that RHD2 is a serious health and welfare concern to UK rabbits. However, there are a few caveats here, related to its origin as a vaccine for meat rabbits. The vaccine duration of action has not been determined, as meat rabbits are typically slaughtered very early in life.

In fact, the product characteristics state: “Vaccinate only fattening rabbits. No information is available on the safety and efficacy in other categories such as breeding or pet rabbits.” In addition, the vaccine is oil adjuvanted, necessitating the following user warning: *Eravac is an emulsion containing mineral oil. Accidental injection may cause severe pain and selling, particularly if injected into a joint or finger – this could result in the loss of the finger if prompt medical attention is not given. If someone is accidentally injected with this product, they must seek medical attention immediately even if only a very small amount is injected. The package leaflet should be shown to the doctor. If pain persists for more than 12 hours after medical examination, the doctor should be contacted again.*

For these reasons, we feel that other vaccines, such as Filavac, covering RHD2 are preferable for the pet and rabbit population in the UK. As ever, rabbit owners are urged to discuss the specifics of their rabbit’s care with their own vets, and those vets are welcome to contact RWAF for further discussion should they wish to.