Did you know that it is estimated that 2% of the UK population are rabbit owners? Equating to a population of around 900,000 pet rabbits?
Indeed, rabbits are the third most popular pet, according to the 2019 PDSA PAW report, but many owners are unsure or do not understand their needs. Last month three leading bodies (BVA – the British Veterinary Association, BVZS – the British Veterinary Zoological Society and the BSAVA – the British Small Animal Veterinary Association) issued a joint statement stressing the importance of companionship for the welfare of rabbits.
The statement also recommended that vets take a more pronounced role in educating and advising owners in regards to guidelines and best practice. It recommends that the animals are of the same sex or neutered if the opposite sex and stressed the importance that sellers should take a role in informing potential owners that rabbits ought not to be housed alone and, if in pairs, have a hutch with appropriate space.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: ‘Whether they are outside or inside, rabbits are highly sociable animals and benefit from a suitable companion. Year after year, statistics show that a large proportion of the UK’s pet rabbits still live alone. I am really pleased to be launching this joint position in which we can offer owners, veterinary professionals, and other stakeholders – from pet sellers to government – strong advice on the importance of companionship and best practice.’
Likewise, BVZS President, Peter Kettlewell stated that: ‘The better the conditions that we keep rabbits in, the less welfare and medical problems they will have during their lives. Along with the correct diet, keeping rabbits in suitable social groups is vital to healthy happy pets. Good food and nice company make for a healthier rabbit.’
BSAVA President Sue Paterson echoed the sentiment underlining the importance that rabbits have their own unique welfare challenges that need to be met and that the new campaign can help to educate all involved with the animals to ensure they live healthier lives,
The joint collaboration between the three organisations is supported by the hashtag #ItTakesTwo that aims to bring greater attention to the welfare of the popular pets. For more information, visit the BVA website.