Bunnies are for life, not just for Easter

The results of the RAW Great British Rabbit Census are in and the good news is that most of the bunny owners surveyed have a great understanding of the five welfare needs of their cuddly cottontails. Will you help us spread the message?

Posted: 07 March 2018

Bunnies are for life, not just for Easter


A total of 5,491 rabbit owners across the UK completed our RAW (Rabbit Awareness Week) census. The findings have provided some fascinating insights into the day-to-day life of British pet rabbits.

Burgess in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes commented: “It’s really great to see that there are so many passionate, well-informed owners across the country who love their buns and know how to take care of them throughout their life. However, we also know from the recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report that not all owners share that understanding. That’s why we’re on a mission to spread the word about meeting the welfare needs of rabbits – diet, company, health, environment and behaviour – which our census has been taking a closer look at.”

1. Diet

Hay should be the number one food source for rabbits, as 74% of respondents correctly stated. In fact, an astonishing 85-90% of rabbit’s diet should be high quality feeding hay and fresh grass.

  • Find out more about why not all hay is the same here >>

Of those surveyed, 82% of people are choosing to feed nuggets over a muesli-based diet. This is great news as nuggets prevent selective feeding that can lead to rabbits not getting all the nutrients they need.

  • Find out more about the nutritional needs of rabbits here >>

2. Company

How many rabbits do you own? Most rabbits like living in pairs or small groups. So, while there are some rescue rabbits – 55% of bunnies surveyed are rescued – who haven’t been socialised and who may be happier on their own, it’s great to see that the majority of British bunnies – a fabulous 70% – have a chum or two to hang out with.

1 rabbit 30%

2 rabbits 47%

3 rabbits 9%

4 rabbits 6%

5 rabbits 2%

More than 5 rabbits 6%

  • Find out more about introducing a new bunny buddy here >>

How often do you interact with your rabbit(s)? Rabbits are very social animals, it’s great to see that most owners spend quality time with their bunnies on a regular basis.

More than once a day 74%

Daily 25%

Every other day 1%

once a week 1%

  • Find out more about the complex needs of intelligent and curious bunnies here >>

3. Health

Is/are your rabbit(s) insured? The majority of rabbit owners don’t have pet insurance, but it’s well worth considering. Insurance will help to pay unexpected vet fees, ensuring your bunnies receive the correct health care.

Yes 27%

No 73%

How often do you take your rabbit(s) to the vet? It was good to see that the majority of British pet rabbits – 95% – owned by respondents see the vet at least once a year. An annual vet check can help identify health problems before they become more serious. Worryingly, the recent PDSA Paw Report revealed that 32% of the overall rabbit population are not registered with vets.

Less than once a year 4%

Once a year 22%

Twice a year 29%

More than twice a year 28%

Other 16%

It was good to see that the majority of people who took part in the census were aware that dental problems and gut stasis, also known as GI – a potentially deadly condition in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely – are among the most common health issues. Feeding the correct diet and lots of good feeding quality hay can help prevent these common health problems from occurring.

4. Environment

Does/do your rabbit(s) live indoors or outdoors?

Indoors only 36%

Outdoors only 37%

Mixed indoor and outdoor 27%

It was also great to hear that 97% of owners who took part in the census provide further space for their rabbits to roam, in addition to housing.

  • Find out more about the exercise requirements of rabbits here >>

5. Behaviour

While 83% said their clever cottontails were litter trained, the majority of owners surveyed – 5,325 people – wanted to know if their bunnies are happy. Asked if they could ask their rabbit(s) any questions, some of the more unexpected ones were:

Why do you sleep in such unusual positions?

Why does 3am always have to be playtime?

Why do you insist on chewing my laces?

  • Find out more about understanding your rabbit(s) here >>

Do you love bunnies and want to help?

To try and help improve the lives of the rabbits across the UK, each year we dedicate a whole week to raising awareness around their five key welfare needs. In 2018, we would like to ask for your help in sharing this message with other bunny owners. Please share this blog on your social media channels and, to find out more, visit rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk.



Please note that percentages have been rounded up or down.