Rabbit Welfare

Rabbits Require Rights Too...

Despite being the third most popular domestic pet in Britain, the rabbit is unfortunately “the UK's most neglected”. As quoted by Rabbit Require Rights Spokesperson on rabbit welfare rights.

UK's Most Neglected Pet Needs Help

Rabbit Welfare Rights Could Get a Second Hearing

Despite being the third most popular domestic pet in Britain, the rabbit is unfortunately “the UK's most neglected”. According to Rabbits Require Rights (a registered Scottish charity).

A spokeswoman for Rabbits Require Rights said:

"As the law currently stands there are no enforceable welfare protection available to rabbits. They are too easily sold and too easily discarded. For want of a better word, they are sold like sweeties."

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The R.R.R. are aiming to be the voice of these silent sufferers, and have had a petition for the general public to add their voice too. With it, they aimed to tackle the growing problem of neglect and improve welfare legislation to give rabbits similar rights as are afforded domestic pet dogs and cats.

They also aim to take on unregulated breeding and sales.

R.R.R. carry out regular awareness events and have a seat on the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare.

They are also stakeholders with the Scottish Government's Animal Welfare Division.

In a recent meeting one of the main issues discussed had
been rabbit welfare, and the President had followed up with Diane Bain from Rabbits Require Rights.

Members noted plans to promote Rabbit Awareness Week jointly with the SSPCA and in close liaison with BSAVA and AWF.

Diane raised concerns  that rabbits were not being presented to vets and that a large number of vets appeared to lack knowledge of rabbit problems.

Members noted plans to promote Rabbit Awareness Week jointly with the SSPCA and in close liaison with BSAVA and AWF. They agreed that it was important to raise awareness within the profession and draw attention to rabbit welfare across the board.

Rabbits Require Rights recent pet rabbit welfare online petition gathered 2044 signatures and helped raise awareness for the plight of neglected furry friend.

Other petitions seeking changes to rabbit welfare legislation include other online petitions containing 4,800 signatures and hard copy petitions bringing the total so far to over 6,000, as of February 2015.

With their advocacy of adoption over purchasing from a pet shop, did they do enough?

The petition, calling for rabbits to be given the same protection as cats and dogs, as well as regulations on breeding, and the minimum size of housing, was first discussed by MSPs in early 2015.

A spokeswoman for Rabbits Require Rights added: "We will return to parliament for the second hearing of our petition sometime in September or October when the new session dates are announced.

"We've had some good feedback from other welfare bodies in support of our aims, so it is hoped that some level of the improvements we have called for will be addressed."

Onekind - Animal Welfare in Scotland

A Review of Legislation, Enforcement and Delivery

Rabbit Welfare Report 2012

The Scottish SPCA runs 10 animal welfare centres in Scotland, and protection charities which operates through local volunteer branches and an adoption centre in Glasgow.

“Rabbits are popular pets, commonly sold in pet shops, but their welfare in private keeping can be poor. Animal welfare groups have repeatedly called for a Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Rabbits to be produced by the Scottish Government.

“In 2012, the Scottish SPCA received 747 stray, unwanted or neglected rabbits into its care, of which it returned 43 to their owners and re-homed 557, while 78 were put to sleep on veterinary advice.

“Small independent charities and shelters such also provide a specialist service for lost, abandoned or neglected rabbits.

"For example, in 2012, Buddies Bunny Rescue in Midlothian took in 245 rabbits, of which 172 were re-homed. 15 rabbits became permanent residents of the sanctuary while 58 were put to sleep on veterinary advice, or died."

Extract from Onekind - Animal Welfare Report

The Scottish SPCA said it rescued 728 rabbits in 2014 and had taken 550 into care up to August 2015. The concern is that hundreds more were living lonely lives in small hutches.

It said rabbits are intelligent, social animals, requiring lots of care and interaction from their owners.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: "One of the most common excuses we hear is that the children in the family, who asked for the rabbit in the first place, have become fed up now that the novelty of the new pet has worn off.

"Another reason is that the owner simply doesn't have the time to look after their rabbit.

"One of the biggest issues is rabbits being left in a hutch with no interaction other than a brief visit from their owner to bring food and water."

He added: "These poor rabbits are literally suffering in silence, living a miserable and lonely life."

The Scottish SPCA hopes to re-home many of the rabbits it has taken in.

Thousands of Rabbits Still Need Homes

It is estimated over 67,000 rabbits passed through UK rescue centres in 2012 alone, and this figure does not include those re-homed through other means such as classified adverts, or released into the wild by owners not wanting them (an immediate death sentence for a domesticated pet rabbit).

Rabbit Welfare Worldwide

Last year, an animal welfare scientist said the pets needed better legal protection against neglect.

James Oxley said,

“...unlike some EU countries, the UK does not have legal requirements on the size of hutches, or that rabbits be kept in pairs.”

Writing in the World Rabbit Science Association's journal, he suggested a review of how existing laws impact on rabbit welfare.


The two main activities of the WRSA are :

  1. the organisation of a World Rabbit Congress every 4 years.

  2. to promote the "World Rabbit Science" journal as the official journal of the association (international peer-reviewed journal with publication of research articles and scientific synthesis)

In addition, the branches have their own activities, such as scientific meetings, and the organisation or publication of technical journals on rabbit production and/or management of rabbit web sites.

What the British RSPCA Report

Adopt - Don't Shop

Adopt Don't Shop

By choosing a rabbit from a rescue centre rather than a pet shop, a rabbit gets a much needed, and loving 'forever home', AND ALSO a space is created for another rabbit to be temporarily re-housed.


Feel Good & Save Money Too!

Rabbit Adoption Makes Financial Sense

Rabbit adoption makes financial sense too.

Let's take a closer look at the facts....

Buying from a Shop or Accidental Breeder

A shop bought pair of rabbits (rabbits must be in pairs otherwise they get very depressed and sick), can cost you up to £710 in the first few months!!

You have the cost of buying them, vaccinations and neutering.

Then you have the complications of aftercare as shop rabbits are invariably very unhealthy and carry illness and disease. Treatments for even basic illnesses can be very costly.

It has been reported by many rabbit owners on this site and others, that pet shop staff, and inexperienced, non-registered breeders, are NOT educated in proper rabbit welfare and ongoing care, and only know a few basic points deemed enough to 'make a sale'.

Here are some basic estimations:

From a Shop or Accidental Breeder

Each rabbit costs:

Purchase Price..................................................... £20 to £50

Neutering Cost................................................... £80 to £100

Vaccinate for VHD & Myxomatosis................. £60 to £80

Initial Vet Treatments
(Health-check, antibiotics etc)......................... Up to £125

TOTAL........................................................... Up to £355

Adopting from a Rescue Centre or Animal Shelter

In comparison the contribution you make to rescue rabbit can be as low £40 all in!

This is because every centre and shelter always neuters and vaccinates each rabbit when they come to them.

Each one also receives a full health check, with any illness or disease treated completely prior to adoption.

So a cost for a pair of healthy, bonded, vaccinated and neutered rabbits can be as low as only £80.

PLUS you get professional, well educated advice on pet care and rabbit welfare anytime you need it from their helpful staff, volunteers, websites and literature.

From a Rescue or Animal Shelter

Each rabbit costs:

Contribution Amount......................................... £30 to £40

Neutering Cost................................................... Included

Vaccinate for VHD & Myxomatosis................. Included

Initial Vet Treatments
(Health-check, antibiotics etc ......................... Included

TOTAL........................................................... Up to £40

To find your nearest rescue centre or animal shelter, search online via Rabbit Rehome or Rescue Review.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Rabbit's Welfare...

  • Do you have a shop bought rabbit?
  • Does your bunny often suffer with illness or disease?
  • Do you need help understanding your rabbits needs?
  • Do you know if your rabbit is truly happy?

Many Just Rabbits readers have found valuable help, guidance and support by joining the Binky Bun Club.

Why don't you give it a trial and see what you think!

Your bunnies will  thank you for it!

Join the Binky Bun Club Today...

Always Informed, Always Innovative...

Become a member today and take the first step towards taking even better care of your much loved pet rabbits.

(And that's not to mention all the freebies, coupons, vouchers, free reports, guides & ebooks on offer too!  Oh wait, I just mentioned it :-)

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