This week is Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) in the UK (15th September – 22nd September). The plight of pet rabbits is a universal problem, so here at Pet Insurance Ireland we thought it was a good idea to highlight Rabbit Awareness Week here in Ireland also.
Rabbits are popular pets in the UK and Ireland, but according to RAW they are also one of the most mistreated. This is often due to a lack of education on behalf of rabbit owners, so campaigns such as Rabbit Awareness Week are invaluable.
Some of the problems rabbits face are inadequate housing, lack of companionship, poor diet and lack of vaccinations. The Rabbit Awareness Week website has a lot of valuable information regarding advice and guidance on these matters and more, plus you can rest assured the advice is correct, as they have worked alongside the PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and The Blue Cross, amongst other charities and companies.
Above is a brilliant and informative video made by the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) and Runaround, called ‘A hutch is not enough’.
According to RWAF rabbits need to be able to stretch up on their hind limbs, and hop (not walk) three times continuously, within their huts and runs.They also advise that the minimum hutch size needed for a rabbit is 6ft by 2ft by 2ft with an 8ft by 4ft run, although they point out that these are the minimum recommendations.
Rabbits come in many different sizes and should not be kept on their own, which also needs to be taken into consideration. What would seem okay for a pair of Dwarf Rabbit, would be far too small for a pair of Giant Rabbits, for example the New Zealand or the Continental Giant.
A hutch should actually only be viewed as your rabbits’ bedroom. The hutch should ideally be permanently attached to a much larger run or exercise area, so your rabbits can decide when they go outside to stretch their legs.
Rabbit Awareness Week
A wild rabbit would naturally live with many other rabbits, and have vast areas of land above and below ground to run around, jump about and explore. According to RWAF, the territory of a wild rabbit is approximately the size of thirty tennis courts, and a rabbit would run approximately five miles a day.
This emphasizes how inadequate a small hutch would be for a rabbit, and how living on their own and in a small enclosures could lead to health and stress issues.According to RWAF rabbits living alone experience ‘high’ levels of stress.
RAW advise that a hutch should actually only be viewed as your rabbits bedroom, and the hutch should be permanently attached to a much larger run or exercise area, so that rabbits can decide when they go outside to stretch their legs.
Often people will have rabbits as pets as they perceive them to be easier to look after than cats and dogs, but a rabbit has many needs. They’re just not so vocal and able to demand their needs from their owners.
The decision to home a rabbit should not be taken lightly. Rabbits have an average life span of seven to ten years, need plenty of space to live in and exercise, and the cost of veterinary visits for neutering, vaccinating and treating any injuries and illnesses can quickly add up.
The rewards however of caring for a rabbit, when done with the rabbits needs properly met, are great for both owners and rabbits, especially when homing a rabbit from an animal sanctuary.