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