Despite being the third most popular pet in the UK, rabbits are among the most abused and neglected. Countless rabbits spend miserable lives confined to a hutch, alone and with little or no space to exercise, mostly because owners don’t realise what’s involved before taking them on.
Rabbits are beautiful, curious animals that deserve to live full and enriched lives.
The world of rabbit ownership is joyful, fun, interesting, sometimes very worrying and certainly all-absorbing. Rabbits can make wonderful pets but there is more to looking after them properly than many people realise.
The first thing to note is that rabbits are not cheap and easy children’s pets, they have complicated needs. Under the fur, pet rabbits are exactly the same as wild rabbits. If you are thinking of taking on rabbits, please read the following carefully. There are many misconceptions about having rabbits as pets.
It’s also worth considering the long term costs. Rabbits are not a cheap pet to keep: they can cost £11,000 over their lifetime.
The bottom line is that looking after rabbits is a big commitment. You must…
- have at least two
- have them neutered (our rabbits are neutered before adoption)
- provide them with an environment that allows them to display their natural behaviours,
- clean them out and check them over every day,
- take them to the vet for vaccinations, check-ups and for any treatment they might need,
- feed them unlimited good quality hay, along with fresh vegetables and some good quality pellets.
And all this for up to 12 years.
Why have two?
Rabbits are highly social creatures – this means that they need company, and that company should be from other rabbits.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t give our pet rabbits as much company as another rabbit can. We lead busy lives and even if we make sure we spend 3 or 4 hours a day with our rabbits, that means that they spend 20 hours or more without us.
But if they have at least one bonded partner they will never be lonely.
As well as improving the life of your pet beyond recognition, providing a friend for your rabbit will have great benefits for you as an owner. Seeing your pets happily snuggling together is a pure joy!
The 5 Freedoms
You must give your rabbits the freedom to:
Display their natural behaviours including running, jumping, digging, foraging and rearing up on their hind legs.
Have the companionship of at least one other rabbit. Studies have shown that rabbits value companionship as much as food. It is cruel to keep a rabbit alone, it should have the company of another neutered rabbit.
Live in the right accommodation. Rabbits need a large, secure enclosure that gives them the space to exercise and display their natural behaviours. Their total space should be 10ft by 6ft and at least 3ft tall. A hutch should be at least 6ft by 2ft by 2ft and be attached to an exercise run permanently.
Be healthy rabbits. Your rabbits must be neutered (castrated for males or speyed for females) and their vaccinations kept up to date. You’ll need to register with a rabbit-savvy vet and carry out regular health checks to make sure your rabbits are in good shape. As part of their make-up as a prey animal, when rabbits are unwell they often don’t show it so you need to be vigilant.
Are rabbits right for you?
Come and talk to our staff who have lots of experience and we will discuss which of our little ones might be best for you.
For more information, visit rabbitwelfare.co.uk