Because bunnies deserve better!
Traditionally, Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is just that…a week of celebrating and bringing awareness of bunnies. This year however, due to COVID19, in store/practice events have been replaced by online activities including RAWFest2020. The latter is an online festival with live streams, Q&A’s and much more.
Rabbits are fascinating, adorable animals but they need anyone interested in sharing their home with a bun to know exactly what they require to be happy and healthy. For instance, did you know that rabbits need to be munching a lot of the time? Or that a single rabbit is often a lonely rabbit? Also, there are diseases you should vaccinate against and preventative treatment that your rabbit will need to stay well.
The RSPCA is part of the RAW coalition, a partnership of experts, organisations and welfare charities whose mission is to improve rabbit welfare. RAW is promoting 5 basic welfare needs that are essential for healthy rabbits.
- Diet – If you think about bunnies in the wild, they are constantly eating. Grass and other vegetation make up the bulk of their diet. Rabbit’s digestive systems need to be kept moving and the best way to replicate their ‘wild’ diet is with lots of good quality hay.
- Environment – Rabbits need space…lots of space. A rabbit who is stuck in a hutch will suffer not only physically but mentally too. Enrichment is essential through toys, boxes and other tools. They should be able to stand on their hind legs unrestricted. Of course, they need to be kept warm and dry when it’s cold and wet and also, cool and shaded when the weather is hot. Protection from predators is key too.
- Behaviour – Rabbits need regular interaction with their owners, picking them up should happen only when absolutely necessary (ie going to vets) Gentle petting and stroking on the floor, feeding them by hand and enriching their environment will help with the bond.
- Companionship – This is so important for rabbits. They are very social animals who live in groups in the wild. Ideally, rabbits are best adopted in pairs, with both (no matter the sex) being neutered. If you live in our branch area we can help with the cost.
- Health – Rabbits can be insured and we recommend this as it helps manage the cost of veterinary care. They can also be vaccinated against Myxomatosis, RVHD1 (Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease) and RVHD2 which is a new strain of this awful disease. All 3 of the the aforementioned often prove fatal. Flystrike, teeth issues and parasites are other issues which can affect your bunny so it is vital you get them registered at a vet and have routine (minimum yearly) checks. Any signs of ill health or behaviour changes should be checked out by a vet ASAP.
As with all animals, potential owners should take their time to find exactly what their prospective pet needs before acquiring the animal. Rabbits are often thought of a ‘children’s pets’ when it’s wrongly assumed they are an easy option to care for. As outlined above, rabbits need space, company, veterinary care and most of all your time. If they are given all they need, you will have a wonderful, loving pet who could easily live with you for a decade or more!