With their floppy ears and fluffy tails, bunnies are the third most popular pet in the UK, but sadly they are also Britain’s most abused. Many bunnies live tucked away in a hutch in the back yard, but yesterday animal experts warned how keeping our pet rabbit cooped up alone can lead to serious health implications, and leave them vulnerable to predators. In the UK an estimated 1.7 million rabbits a year are kept as pets but shockingly more than 67,000 of those homed end up in rehoming centres.
As part of Rabbit Awareness week (May 9 to May 15) animal charity Support Adoption For Pets is offering bunny lovers top tips to keep their family rabbits happy at home.
Examining rabbits complex needs, the charity insist bunnies need plenty of space to run around and stretch out as well as a private covered area for them to hide from predators in our gardens.
Keen to hop, bunny huts must also be tall enough for a rabbit to stand on its back legs without its ears touching the roof.
Many owners are also unaware of their pet rabbits bugbears, dishing out sugary cereal based food or forcing them to live alone.
Three-quarters of our pet rabbit’s diet needs to be hay or grass but surprisingly never grass cuttings. Fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and apples are a good treat.
Bunnies are highly sociable animals and seek companionship, preferring to live in pairs but do not put them with guinea pigs – or they’ll fight like cats and dogs.
Support Adoption For Pets also advise pet rabbits are encouraged to practice natural behaviour by giving them safe things to chew, such as apple wood or willow.
Owners were reminded to check their rabbits everyday and look out for any changes in appearance and behaviour. Remember, healthy rabbits are alert with bright eyes, dry nostrils and clean, shiny coats.
Have rabbits neutered as this lessens the risk of disease and behavioural problems. Dental problems are common in rabbits so check their back and front teeth regularly especially if they are beginning to lose weight for no apparent reason.
If you adopt a rabbit from a Support Adoption For Pets adoption centre, you will receive a voucher to get them neutered for free, a free health check, free vaccinations and a free microchip voucher.