A number of pet rabbits are living in conditions that may be detrimental to their welfare claims a study from the University of Bristol. National Rabbit Awareness Week (May 9-17) publicised the findings, which claim that 59 percent of rabbits live in hutches without much-needed constant access to an exercise area. Half of owners do not provide their rabbits with a digging area.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has also drawn attention to these popular pets. In a BVA survey carried out last year, one in five vets voiced concerns about pet rabbits. 22 percent of companion animal vets felt that people should be discouraged from keeping rabbits unless the animals could be properly looked after. A number were also concerned that these sociable pets were experiencing boredom, frustration and fear when kept on their own.
BVA President John Blackwell said: ‘We know as vets the pleasure that pet ownership can bring to the whole family, including children. But the golden rule is always to put the animal’s welfare first so that you have a happy, healthy animal who is part of the family.’
So, how can the pet industry help to ensure rabbits are happy and healthy? Many retailers already work hard to supply essential welfare information to new pet owners and ensure they have all the products they need. To celebrate Rabbit Awareness Week veterinary practices all over the UK are also providing free rabbit health checks throughout May. To find out more go to www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk.