Creating better tomorrows for all pet rabbits
Think carefully before you jump into buying a rabbit
Ready to give rabbits the life they deserve?
Despite being the third most popular pet in the UK, rabbits are among the most abused and neglected. Too many spend miserable lives confined to a hutch, alone and with little or no space to exercise. And around 67,000 rabbits a year end up in rescue centres. All because owners don’t know how to look after them properly.
Before you commit to pet rabbits, please read these pages for an idea of everything involved in their care. If you can’t commit to giving them what they need to live full and contented lives, then maybe rabbits aren’t for you.
Rabbits are not…
Rabbits are rarely cuddly. In the wild, everything wants to eat them. As prey animals they’re nervous and can bite or scratch when stressed. Building up a relationship takes time and patience and has to be on the rabbit’s terms. Children can lack such patience.
When rabbits are picked up their instinct tells them they’ve been caught by a predator, and they often react aggressively. Most good owners will only pick up the rabbits to check their health. The pleasure is in watching them display their natural behaviours.
The Victorians kept rabbits in hutches for a convenient meat supply. Wild rabbits live in large underground warrens. Above ground, they cover a massive area every day. Pet rabbits need an enclosure that’s at least 3m x 2m x 1m high and should never be confined to a hutch.
Studies show that rabbits value companionship almost as much as food. Watch a pair or group of bonded rabbits snuggling up together and cleaning each other and you’ll see exactly why it’s cruel to keep a rabbit on its own.
Rabbits accommodation should be cleaned every day and given fresh hay and bedding. As they can live for over ten years that’s a lot of cleaning. They need annual vaccinations and can be susceptible to medical problems, so expect visits to the vet!
Rabbits suffer for their looks. Children see a cute, fluffy rabbit in a pet shop and pester their parents to buy it. But children often lose interest quickly and the rabbit can be left alone in a hutch at the end of the garden or is even abandoned.
While pet rabbits are inexpensive to buy, caring for them can be pricey. You’ll need a secure outdoor or indoor enclosure, as well as food, hay and bedding. They also need neutering (castrating for males, spaying for females), vaccinations and vet trips. Caring for a pair of rabbits over their lifetime can cost over £10,000.
Beautiful, curious animals that deserve to live full and enriched lives. The list above highlights just some of the misconceptions about rabbit care. Ultimately, looking after rabbits is a big commitment. You must…
And all this for up to 12 years.
It doesn’t make you a bad person if can’t commit. It actually makes you responsible. If more people were responsible, rescue shelters wouldn’t be at crisis point and there’d be fewer neglected rabbits.
It’s a myth that rabbits and guinea pigs make good pals. They have different dietary requirements and guinea pigs can easily be injured by larger rabbits. A huge benefit of keeping rabbits with other rabbits is their mutual grooming. This just doesn’t happen with a guinea pig.
The real pleasure of having rabbits is seeing them act like rabbits. Watching them displaying their natural behaviours of running, jumping, digging and foraging, or simply grooming their partner is a joy to behold. And if you get to see a flop or a binky then you know you’re doing something right!
Do the maths
Rabbits can live for ten to twelve years. So, add ten years to your child’s age if they say they want a rabbit and promise to look after it every day. Under the law you’re responsible for the animal anyway but will your child be interested in five years time? How about ten?