May 23-29 is Rabbit Awareness Week in the U.K. sponsored by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF).
Despite being the third most popular pet in the U.K., rabbits are one of the most neglected domestic animals. A recent study indicates that 75% of the pet rabbits in the U.K. are badly cared for and commonly misunderstood by the people who own them.
The purpose of Rabbit Awareness Week is to help educate people about five rabbit welfare needs:
- Environment - many rabbits are kept in traditional hutches, which are not big enough for the rabbit to lay down, stretch out, stand up or move around. Rabbits need both a sleeping area and an exercise area that is large enough to allow for normal behavior.
- Behavior - lack of an interesting environment, opportunities to exercise, appropriate company and mental stimulation can lead to abnormal behaviors including depression, aggression, self-harming, chewing, altered feeding, drinking and toileting habits, sitting in a hunched position, excessive hiding, reluctance to move and repeated circling. It's important for rabbit owners to know how to prevent these problems.
- Company - many people don't realize that rabbits, like people, are social animals and can suffer from loneliness. Keeping a rabbit alone in a hutch is a miserable existence since rabbits are happiest living in pairs or groups.
- Health - there are several common health problems that rabbit owners should be aware of. Most potential health problems can be avoided or treated if caught early.
- Diet - 70% of a wild rabbit's time above ground is spent searching for high fiber food like grass, hay, plants, herbs and bark. Good quality hay should make up the majority of a domestic rabbit's diet and should be available at all times.
- Visit the RWAF website.
- Like RWAF on Facebook.
- Blog about Rabbit Awareness Week and tweet the link or post to your facebook profile.