This Easter, the RSPCA would like to remind rabbit owners or anyone thinking of getting a rabbit of the responsibility associated with looking after an animal.
These ten points highlight some of the welfare issues associated with owning a rabbit.
•● Owning and caring for rabbits can be great fun and very rewarding, but it’s a big responsibility and a long-term commitment in terms of care and cost.
• If you own or are responsible for rabbits, even on a temporary basis, you are required by law to care for them properly.
• The biology and behaviour of pet rabbits is very similar to that of wild rabbits. This means they have very complex needs and although traditionally thought of as good pets for children, this is not the case as they are not easy to look after.
• Typically rabbits can live for 8 - 12 years, but some may live longer.
• Rabbits are active animals and therefore require accommodation that allows them to be able to hop, run, jump, dig, stand fully upright on their back legs.
• Rabbits are grazers and in the wild they eat only grass and other plants - in fact, your rabbits’ digestive systems must have hay and/or grass in order to function properly.
• Rabbits are highly social, playful and inquisitive animals and need to interact and play with other friendly rabbits.
• Rabbits feel pain in the same way as other mammals, including people, but they are not very good at showing outward signs of pain and may be suffering a great deal before you notice anything wrong.
• Groom your rabbits’ coat regularly to keep them in good condition.
• Front teeth and nails should be checked at least once a week as these can grow quickly but only a vet should correct overgrown or misaligned teeth.