At the Rabbit Welfare and Fund, we’re determined to make life better for rabbits. Our message, A Hutch Is Not Enough sums up that popping a lone rabbit in a small hutch at the bottom of the garden doesn’t really make the grade for kind, thoughtful and healthy welfare.
As it’s so significant, A Hutch Is Not Enough is also the name of our campaign to change the world’s view on keeping rabbits.
Retailers and suppliers are vital in our cause
Through A Hutch Is Not Enough, we’re challenging the Pet Retail Industry to stock products that satisfy a rabbit’s behavioural and emotional needs. We’re encouraging them to give customers up to date, accurate care advice and put the welfare of pet rabbits at the heart of their businesses.
Good welfare. Good business
By providing trusted accurate information, high quality food, bedding and products, retailers can build relationships with owners. It gives them an opportunity to nurture customer loyalty and promote rabbit health. Healthy rabbits live longer, creating a reliable client base.
The sign of approved products
We can also use some leverage to encourage manufacturers to develop suitable products to keep a rabbit busy and happy. To help, we’re working on an RWA&F trusted approval stamp. So watch this space as we launch very soon!
Our thinking on rescue centres and pet shops
We are very supportive of rescue centres, they do an amazing job. Though we prefer rabbits not to be sold in pet shops, retailers are a gateway for us to educate owners. A valuable ally in getting our voice heard about raising the standards of welfare. It’s a good opportunity to work with the industry and encourage them to stock larger hutches, of over 6 feet and share the importance of more room. It’s a great place to start the education and positive changes we’re driving.
Seven Sins of Small Hutches
Small hutches aren’t just restrictive and unkind, they cause serious health problems. Let’s take a look.
Spinal deformities If a rabbit can’t stand up on its hind legs, it can deform the spine, which is painful and permanent.
Obesity Rabbits need exercise just like us. Without enough space to get active, they can become obese, increasing the chance of disease and shortening their life.
Exposure Rabbits feel the elements more in smaller hutches. A dry, warm spot is hard to find and they end up eating, sleeping and leaving droppings in the same area. This leaves them prone to fatal diseases, like Flystrike.
Flystrike When rabbits can’t clean themselves due to obesity or a confined space, flies can lay eggs in the fur around the bottom. These hatch into maggots which eat the rabbit’s flesh. Causing a slow and painful death.
Overgrown nails Rabbits naturally forage and dig, which wears their nails down. Nails can grow too long on rabbits confined to hutches, making it painful to stand and walk.
Behavioural problems and aggression These are common reasons why rabbits are abandoned. Boredom leads to frustration and aggression. A rabbit in pain can be difficult to handle and fear of being handled also causes aggression. None of it points to a happy bunny.
Depression Each of these factors, combined with boredom, frustration and loneliness can lead to depression. Depression leads to behavioural problems.
All of these are avoidable. That’s why we’re working hard to educate owners and raise awareness.
What can you do to help?
There are lots of things you can do to raise awareness and change people’s thinking whether you’re an owner, retailer, vet or animal lover.
Retailers, please make sure owners know the recommended minimum hutch size is 3m x 2m x 1m high. Also stock and direct owners to these products so rabbits have the space they need.
Retailers can also educate new rabbit owners on housing and welfare. Hand them our care leaflet, On The Hop and of course, send them here to our website.
Owners think about using your current hutch as a safe space that’s part of a bigger enclosure. Or attach a run to give your rabbits choice and some freedom.
Even better, swap the hutch for a shed and convert it into a great space for rabbits with plenty of room and weather protection.
Better housing conditions mean better physical health, mental wellbeing, behaviour and a better relationship between you and your rabbit.