Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK after dogs and cats; in the US, they’re in 7th place, after cats, fish, dogs, birds, livestock and horses. Sadly, as many as 75% of 2 million pet rabbits in the UK are poorly cared for and their needs misunderstood according to a survey by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) cited in the Guardian.
Says RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley:
“If you ask any RSPCA officer which animal they feel most sorry for, it’s usually the poor, forgotten rabbit sitting in a tiny hutch without the proper food, or any food at all, and some dirty water. It might once have been loved for a brief time by some child, but it has quickly been forgotten and it’s a very sad sight that I have seen countless times.”
Woodley said rabbits were often mistakenly seen as an “easy” pet instead of the smart, sociable and curious animal with a need to run and dig that they are. “People have been keeping rabbits in this country for a long time, but it originally was kept as food, so it would be in a tiny hutch for a very short period of time.
“But people are still buying these small cramped things, and the pet industry is still putting them out there for sale, and they are terrible. Rabbits are gregarious animals: they live in the wild in groups.”
In the video below, Woodsley talks about the thousands of neglected rabbits the RSPCA finds every year.
Three-quarters of the rabbits seen by British veterinarians are obese and have poor teeth, the latter because they are being fed “convenience foods” rather than grass, hay and fresh grass. Furthermore, it’s noted that 60% of rabbit owners “didn’t know that their pets were intelligent and social creatures that needed mental stimulation.”
The upcoming week has been proclaimed Rabbit Awareness Week in the UK “because rabbits get a RAW deal.” You can read more about rabbits’ needs as far as diet, company and environment at the Rabbit Awareness Week site.
As for myself, I’m glad to watch the wild rabbits scampering around in our yard. They can help themselves to all the grass they want, anytime.
Photo by ruurmo