The UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA has released distressing statistics that show more than 55% of rabbit owners have identified signs of worrying behaviour in their pet rabbits.
In the run up to this year’s 10th Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW), PDSA veterinary surgeon Rebecca Ashman has highlighted the effects of boredom and loneliness on the mental health of rabbits. The findings, taken from the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, suggest that on a weekly basis owners have noted signs of unhappiness in their rabbits such as biting the bars of their run or hutch repeatedly, fur pulling, biting, growling and hissing.
With more than 680,000* rabbits living alone, despite being highly sociable animals, and thousands more living in small hutches with no opportunity for exercise or mental stimulation, Ashman says it is no surprise owners and vets are seeing these issues on a regular basis.
“Our figures highlight that lack of mental stimulation can have a huge impact on pet behaviour,” says Ashman. “What’s most frustrating is the fact that many of these issues could easily be avoided if rabbits were given the right conditions, diet and companions to live alongside.”
As a charitable partner in this year’s RAW, which runs from 18 to 26 June 2016, PDSA is backing RAW’s #BuddiesForBunnies campaign to get solitary rabbits paired up with suitable companions from rescue centres. The charity says the findings should be a ‘call to action’ for the 57% of rabbit owners who own single rabbits.
Ashman added: “Pets do so much to enrich and improve our lives, but by not meeting their needs, their physical and mental wellbeing can be severely compromised. “Sadly, rabbits seem to be the forgotten pet”. They can’t speak up and tell us if they’re unhappy, but with the right information and education, owners can make positive changes to their pets’ lives.”