This year’s annual Rabbit Awareness Week (28 June to 4 July) we’ve been celebrating our 15th anniversary of promoting the health and welfare of pet rabbits. We also launched our Better Bunnies programme, providing a whole host of free resources to help bunny owners understand the needs of their cotton-tailed chums to help them live long, healthy, and happy lives.
Since our first Rabbit Awareness Week in 2006, we’ve campaigned for owners to move away from muesli to prevent selective feeding, which can lead to an unbalanced diet and cause health problems, and to ensure that every rabbit is vaccinated against deadly diseases.
Essential reading for bunny lovers
This year, we’ve produced a range of really useful guides, which are essential reading for all bunny lovers, and include information for new bunny owners, a rabbit MOT matrix focusing on the five key welfare needs – environment, diet, behaviour, company, and health – a rabbit health log, and rabbit care guide. If you haven’t downloaded these great guides yet, there’s still time as bunnies are for life, not just for Rabbit Awareness Week! Download your Rabbit Awareness Week pack today >>
New for this year is a whole day focused on rescue rabbits, with superhero bunnies Hopscotch and Skipper going all out to help find some rescued buns their new forever homes. Find out more about bonding new bunny buddies >>
DID YOU KNOW?
Most rabbits who live with other rabbits showed significantly higher instances of positive behaviour such as grooming one another (83%) and resting near each other (82%), than negative, such as fighting (10%) and boxing (11%).
Source: PDSA PAW Report 2020
Rabbit Awareness Week is just as important as ever to improve the health and wellbeing of pet bunnies.
Commenting in PDSA’s annual PAW Report – the UK’s largest annual assessment of pet wellbeing – Jo Hinde, RVN, Senior Vice President, British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) states: “Many people assume that animal abuse consists of deliberate harm or neglect, however this is not always the case. Some pets, for example rabbits, are greatly suffering, but not because the owner is deliberately being cruel – but because they are not aware of the basic levels of care that need to be provided. I am delighted to see that in the past 10 years, the number of rabbits being kept alone has reduced (67% in 2011 to 47% in 2020). This is just one example of how awareness and education has really helped to improve animal welfare and registered veterinary nurses play a key part in this process – from running species specific clinics to taking part in national awareness events such as Rabbit Awareness Week.”
Other key findings in the latest PAW Report include:
- 26% of rabbits still live in inadequate housing (small hutches with minimal or no run space), but on average are spending less time in their hutch in a 24-hour period going from 13 hours in 2017 compared to 11 hours in 2020 – and 36% of veterinary professionals said small hutches are one of the top five welfare concerns for rabbits. Significantly, more owners of rabbits living in inadequate housing (30%) wanted to change at least one behaviour when compared to the owners of rabbits living in more ideal environments (15%)
Check out the ideal outdoor bunny home >>
Find accommodation ideas for your indoor bunnies >>
- Fewer rabbits are fed muesli as one of their main food types from 49% in 2011 down to 18% in 2020 – great news! More rabbits are being fed pelleted food – from 53% in 2011 to 80% in 2020. 83% of vets say that they routinely recommend pellet diets rather than muesli for rabbits
- Fewer rabbits are being fed less than the recommended ‘body size’ amount of hay or grass: 42% in 2011 to 21% in 2020 – although 55% of veterinary professionals identified inappropriate diet as one of the top five welfare concerns facing rabbits today
- All rabbit owners were asked questions related to their rabbit’s emotions and 22% said their rabbit was bored and 15% said their rabbit was stressed
- Encouragingly, there has been a significant decrease in rabbits being kept on their own from 67% (2011) to 42% (2020). However, this still means that 420,000 rabbits (42%) are living without another rabbit. 78% of vets say they routinely recommend another rabbit as companionship for rabbits kept alone
- The number of rabbits receiving no preventive care reduced from 23% in 2011 to 8% in 2020 with 66% registered with a vet and 49% receiving regular booster vaccinations. 32% of vets say that they’ve seen an increase in viral haemorrhagic diarrhoea (VHD) in rabbits in the last two years and 17% say they’ve seen an increase in myxomatosis
- 57% of owners report that their rabbit has been neutered, 30% have been microchipped and 18% insured, compared to 37% neutered, 3% microchipped, and 6% insured in 2011
Commenting on the PAW Report findings, Richard Hooker BVMS (Hons), MRCVS PDSA Director of Veterinary Services, says: “Overall, while we can be encouraged by the areas of pet wellbeing that have improved, there is still much work to be done to ensure our pets receive the care they deserve. As we have said since the first PAW Report, ‘love is not enough’. Meeting their five welfare needs is the translation of our love that is meaningful for our pets.”
Rabbit Awareness Week is an annual campaign which aims to educate rabbit owners on all aspects of their care and is proudly supported by Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, Wood Green, the Animals Charity, RSPCA, PDSA and Blue Cross, and endorsed by British Veterinary Association and British Small Animal Veterinary Association
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