Could you adopt a rabbit?
Urgent appeal: rescued bunnies are in desperate need of homes
Whether you’re a first-time bunny owner or want to adopt a new bunny chum for your existing rabbit gang, rabbit rescues across the country would love to hear from you.
In fact, across the pond in the US, February is officially ‘Adopt a Rescued Rabbit’ month, which is a great way to focus on finding loving forever homes for abandoned bunnies hoping for a second chance at a happy life. (Read on to discover why rescued rabbits rule!).
In the UK, the Rabbit Welfare and Fund (RAWF)’s Adopt Don't Shop campaign is urging anyone who is serious about wanting pet rabbits to adopt from a rabbit rescue charity to resolve the current overcrowding in rescue centres.
The charity states: “The UK is experiencing the worst rabbit rescue crisis ever. As the nation’s leading rabbit welfare charity, we’re launching an urgent appeal for people to support our breeding amnesty and Adopt Don't Shop. It’s vital to help the country’s overwhelmed rescue centres to re-home the pets in their care.”
What’s causing the problem?
Veterinary surgeon, Dr Emma Goodman Milne, says: “Sadly, low education on how rabbits breed has created a massive rise in the population. Rabbits are one of the most misunderstood pets people can have. They need the company of other rabbits. They need much more space than most people think and can live eight to 10 years. We desperately need an amnesty on breeding until this crisis is behind us and the animals needing homes have found great owners. We need to ease the burden on adoption centres. I would urge anyone choosing a pet, especially rabbits, to research carefully and make sure you can look after these wonderful animals.”
RAWF explains why it’s much more responsible to adopt not shop
- Rabbit rescue centres are overwhelmed and in crisis. They need time to rehome the rabbits without more litters adding to the problem.
- RWAF’s Welfare Officers report an increase of 77% of rabbits for sale online, with new breeders constantly appearing.
- Mis-sexing rabbits leads to unwanted litters. Two can quickly become 15, as the doe rabbit is able to get pregnant immediately after giving birth.
- There’s no legal requirement for pet shops to guarantee the sex of baby rabbits. There’s even less protection for anyone who buys a rabbit online, or from a neighbour.
- The cost-of-living crisis is also driving the boom, as households struggle to afford food, equipment and welfare.
- A lack of non-urgent vet appointments during the pandemic delayed pet rabbits being vaccinated and neutered. This has compounded the rise in litters.
Why rescued rabbits rule
“There is a misconception that rescue rabbits are ‘damaged goods’, and so new owners prefer to get new rabbits from shops and breeders, but this simply isn’t true,” says Rae Walters, Director of RWAF. “Rescue rabbits are not damaged – most have been simply abandoned and are in need of a loving home.”
Mary Lempert is the founder and manager of The Rabbit Advocate and has served as a rabbit behaviour and rehabilitation consultant for the House Rabbit Society and various animal care and adoption services in the US. The proud owner of Graysie and Willoughby (along with any number of foster bunnies), she’s keen to share just some of the reasons why rescued rabbits make great pets:
- Rabbits are the perfect pets for those who may not have time for daily walks, but still seek the social quality of a dog-like companion. And, like cats, rabbits can be litter box trained very easily. Best of both worlds! Find out more about rabbits and their need for companionship >>
- Many people who are allergic to dogs and cats may find that they’re not allergic to rabbits (although you’d need to spend time with some bunnies at a rescue centre and seek advice from your doctor first).
- Rabbit schedules match up with people schedules. Our furry friends are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk, which corresponds well with the times most of us are starting our day or getting home from work and ready for some couch snuggling or binky watching. Find out more about rabbit behaviour >>
- Rabbits make great pets for city dwellers. They happily stay in large cages or puppy pens (make sure they have plenty of room, lots of activities and somewhere snug to sleep) during the day when you’re gone and love to come out to romp around in rabbit-proofed rooms when you’re home. Find out more about creating the perfect rabbit environment >>
- Rabbits are great listeners (just look at those ears!). They also make excellent snugglers with their extra-soft fur and loving nature. What more could you ask for from a friend? Find out how to speak rabbit >>
- Rabbits are heroic.In the wild, rabbits communicate with each other about perceived dangers by thumping their back legs; astute house bunnies will provide you with a similar security system. In fact, there are many stories of rabbits alerting their people to danger. In 2008, an Australian pet rabbit alerted his people to a house fire in the middle of the night and undoubtedly saved their lives. The lesson – never underestimate a bunny!
Thinking about adopting a bunny? RWAF outlines how rabbit adoption works:
- Most rescue centres might want to visit your home to and see where the rabbits will live and ask you some questions, before letting you to adopt.
- Some rescue centres might even want to speak to your vet before letting you to adopt rabbits. This makes sure you fully understand what a commitment it is and what level of welfare is needed.
- Some rescue centres may charge an adoption fee. This helps fund the important work they do and covers the costs of neutering and vaccinations.
FIND YOUR NEW BUNNY CHUM Animal charities such as Wood Green, RSPCA, Blue Cross and local rescue groups all have rabbits looking for a second chance at a happy home. Rescue centres will go out of their way to match you with just the right rabbit/s for you and provide you with lots of support to help you become a five-star bunny owner.
WANT ALL BUNNIES TO HAVE THE BEST LIFE POSSIBLE? Along with the annual Rabbit Awareness Week, the Rabbit Awareness Action Group (RAAG) has now been established to ensure a greater understanding of rabbits’ health and welfare requirements. RAAG is asking for all rabbit supporters to sign up to the first Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits in England. Add your voice by signing our letter >>
Let’s get social...
Sign up to the Excel Bunny Base – a safe Facebook community for rabbit guardians that are looking for advice and friendly discussions from likeminded owners – and there are lots of cute bunny photos and videos! Also join us on Instagram.
CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for all your pets from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care, it's all here >>
DID YOU KNOW?
The entire Burgess Excel rabbit range is made using only the finest quality ingredients and is designed to prevent selective feeding (a common problem with muesli-based diets where rabbits eat some high starch/sugar components, while rejecting the more fibrous pellets, causing all manner of health issues). Naturally high in Beneficial Fibre and fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy eyes, skin and coat, it’s really no wonder that 92% of UK vets recommend our Burgess small pets range.
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