Regulation

Rabbit legislation too ‘focused’ on commercial activities, says report

A survey by Scotland’s Rural College revealed that rabbits are under-represented in most legislation, despite being the country’s third most popular pet

A review by Scotland’s Rural Collect (SURC) has revealed that rabbits are under-represented in most legislation, despite being the UK’s third most popular pet.

Researchers at the SURC found pet legislation is generally focused on commercial activities involving animals, such as pet sales, products, exhibitions, and regulation relating to dog breeding.

England does not currently have codes of practice for pet rabbits, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s respective codes refer to the general care and management of pet rabbits and do not give recommendations on appropriate breeding management.

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Laura Dixon, researcher at the SURC, said: “Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK and while charity organisations like the RWAF and RSPCA have guidance on housing and management, there are no government recommendations for breeding pet rabbits, only for lab and meat rabbits.

“Being housed in unsuitable environments can cause stress and frustration leading to, or exacerbating, behavioural problems, such as fur pulling or bar biting. It can also lead to increased obesity and decreased bone strength due to lack of exercise.”

She added: “We’re hoping that by illustrating the inequality for pet rabbits, this will prompt the different governments to draft guidance for breeding pet rabbits.”

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