Let’s stop this once and for all
Sign our petition change.org
Imagine being trapped in a small enclosure for your entire life. Imagine not being able to stand up straight all day. Imagine eating, sleeping and urinating in the same space. Now, imagine being a pet rabbit.
Unbeknown to many rabbit owners, inadequate housing is both physically and emotionally crippling to pet rabbits. From causing stress and behavioural difficulties to developing spinal deformities, small hutches can result in a lifetime of pain and premature death for pet rabbits.
This is no life for the pets we love.
We aim to change this. We have started a petition to ban the sale of small hutches and introduce a legal minimum housing requirement for keeping pet rabbits to help prevent these awful living conditions and improve the welfare of pet rabbits – but we need your help.
By raising awareness of the facts, refusing to buy small hutches and signing our petition, together we can really make a difference to millions of pet rabbits.
Shockingly, over one fifth of the 1.7 million pet rabbits in the UK are kept in hutches smaller than those of meat and laboratory rabbits. Although there is a legal housing size requirement for meat and lab rabbits, there is no current housing regulatory law for pet rabbits.
In fact, a survey of rabbit housing retailers found that 60.5% of commercial pet rabbit hutches did not even meet the legal minimum requirements of meat and lab rabbit cages. Because this number so high and there are so many inadequately sized hutches on the market, these are deemed as being ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ – when in reality they are a direct cause of so many health issues affecting pet rabbits.
Seven sins of small hutches
The inability to stand up straight on their hind legs for days at a time results in the deformation of the spine, which is a permanent and very painful condition for rabbits.
Lacking adequate space to exercise means rabbits are forced to sit or lay down all day, causing obesity and increasing risk of disease and premature death.
Small rabbit hutches are greater exposed to the elements and can become extremely cold and damp from the rain. Dry space then becomes sparse, which means rabbits are forced to eat, sleep and go to toilet in the same area, becoming more susceptible to painful and deadly diseases, such as flystrike.
Flystrike is caused when rabbits can’t clean themselves properly due to confined space or obesity problems. Flies, attracted by unclean bottoms, lay eggs in rabbits’ fur, which then hatch into maggots that eat the rabbit’s flesh causing excruciating pain and a slow, agonising death.
Being able to run, dig and forage naturally wears down rabbit’s nails. Without the ability to do so, nails become overgrown and which is very painful to stand and walk on.
Behavioural problems, aggression and frustration
The boredom caused by being left in a small enclosure all day leads to frustration, causing rabbits to become aggressive. Aggression and a fear of being handled is also a direct result of the pain caused by the above health issues. Aggression is one reason why thousands of rabbits are abandoned each year.
Each of these physical factors combined with the crippling boredom, frustration and loneliness of being locked up all day results in rabbits suffering from depression, leading to various behavioural problems.
All of these issues are completely preventable, and signing our petition is the first step to helping bring about a positive change to millions of rabbits throughout the UK.
How to help
Whether you are a rabbit owner, animal lover, vet or even a pet retailer, there are many ways you can support our cause. What you can do to help:
- Sign the petition and share on your social platforms.
- Encourage others to sign the petition and only buy appropriately-sized hutches.
- Educate new or prospective rabbit owners on appropriate rabbit housing and welfare issues.
- Refuse to buy (or stock) small commercial rabbit hutches – the minimum size we recommend is 6ft x 2ft, with enough space for rabbits to stand up straight and make at least three hops.
- If you own a hutch already, use it as a safe space for your rabbits as part of a larger enclosure, or attach a rabbit run which your rabbits can have constant access to.
- Outdoor rabbits: Convert a shed into appropriate rabbit housing instead of using a hutch. This will give rabbits plenty of space and keep them protected from the outdoor elements.
Better housing conditions make for overall happier rabbits. Not only will it help improve your rabbits’ welfare, but it can help improve their physical health, mental wellbeing, behaviour and your relationship with them. So, stand up for rabbits everywhere and say #AHutchIsNotEnough!
“Rabbits are one of the most misunderstood and neglected of our pet animals. Far too many are kept alone and in totally inadequate hutches. Can you imagine never being able to stand up or stretch out for your whole life? This is nothing short of imprisonment and unnecessary suffering. It’s high time shops take the responsibility for that suffering and stop selling anything that isn’t the minimum size. If people don’t have the money or the space to provide for the genuine needs of rabbits then I’m afraid they aren’t the right pet for them.”
Read more about why a hutch is not enough.
The RWAF recommends minimum overall accommodation size of 6 ft x 10 ft x 3 ft high.
The hutch within this should be at least 6 ft x 2ft.