One small hop for owners, one giant leap for rabbit kind
PDSA is encouraging owners to take ‘one small hop’ to improve their pets’ health and wellbeing.
PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “With an estimated one million pet bunnies, they are the UK’s third most popular pet, yet according to PDSA research they are the least understood of all our pets. Nearly two thirds of pet owners are unaware of the five key welfare needs of their pets – these are the five things that all pets need to be healthy and happy, which all owners should legally provide.”
So what are these five welfare needs for rabbits, and what simple changes can owners make to improve their bunnies’ wellbeing? Elaine has helpfully explained each of the welfare needs, and suggested some quick and simple changes that owners can make:
1) The needs for a suitable environment or place to live
Elaine’s top hop: Build an extension! Rabbits need plenty of space and their hutch should be long enough for three hops from one end to the other and high enough for the rabbit to stand on their back legs, ideally with their large run permanently attached so they can exercise when they want to.
2) The need for a suitable diet
Elaine’s top hop: plenty of hay! Rabbits need constant access to fresh grass or clean hay, separate to their bedding, as this provides important fibre and helps to wear their teeth down. Vets also recommend nuggets rather than ‘muesli’ but any new diet must be changed gradually over a period of 2-4 weeks – your vet can advise you about this.
3) The need to be able to express normal behaviour
Elaine’s top hop: create a secure ‘wild’ play area. Rabbits love to play and dig, but often lack stimulation. Why not create a ‘wild area’ for them with tunnels, hiding places, untreated logs and planters filled with earth for digging.
4) The need for the right companionship – to live with, or apart from, other animals
Elaine’s top hop: find an appropriate companion for your rabbit. Rabbits are very social animals and need the company of their own kind; the best pairing is a neutered male and a neutered female. Get advice from a vet on how best to introduce them.
5) The need for health – to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Elaine’s top hop: get a free health check! Many vets are offering free health checks for bunniers during Rabbit Awareness Week, to find one near you that’s offering this service visit www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk/event-locator
With a few simple steps your bunnies could live happily ever after! For more info on these tips and to get other ‘one small hop’ ideas visit