From 27th June to 1st July, it is Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW). RAW is an annual campaign that aims to educate rabbit owners on all aspects of their care.

Animal charities across the UK have teamed up to help raise the profile of rabbits and help owners do the best they can for their bunnies.

Burgess Pet Care

RAW was created by Burgess Pet Care over 15 years ago to improve the health and wellbeing of Britain’s pet rabbits and is supported by the UK’s leading animal welfare organisations, charities and veterinary professionals.

Burgess Pet Care is a national animal feed and pet food supplier and manufacturer. As a family-owned business with over 300 years of history, the health and wellbeing of animals is Burgess Pet Care’s number one goal. They actively work with a number of leading charities to help educate and raise awareness around animal welfare needs and are the main organisers of RAW.

One Million Pet Rabbits in the UK

There are nearly one million pet rabbits in the UK, but research continues to highlight rabbits are the UK’s most neglected pet. 49% of pet rabbits live alone (they should live in pairs) and only 25% of rabbits live in adequate conditions, according to a PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report.

Dr Suzanne Moyes MVB MRCVS from Burgess Pet Care says: “Veterinary research consistently shows rabbits as being one of the UK’s most neglected pets. In addition to ensuring rabbits are kept in pairs and have constant access to high quality feeding hay, it’s important that rabbit owners are making all of the right moves to address poor quality accommodation and lack of regular interaction – two of the key contributors to unhappy bunnies!”

She adds: “Rabbits make fantastic pets but it’s important for owners to do their research in advance of welcoming rabbits into their home so they can understand the responsibilities that are involved.”

Rabbits and their Environment

This year’s theme for Rabbit Awareness Week is environment. It focusses on improving where pet rabbits live, promoting health, happiness and safety in their home.

Wild rabbits have the freedom to roam and live with other rabbits as a colony, grazing continuously. Yet 46% of pet rabbits spend between 11 and 23 hours a day in a hutch.

Rabbits need lots of space and toys to keep them occupied and happy in their environment. With this in mind, here are some basics on how to keep your rabbits safe and happy in their hutches and enclosures:

Outdoor Rabbits

Outdoor rabbits need space to roam and enjoy. A large run should be attached to their hutch or enclosure so they can walk about whenever they like. The total area available to them should be a minimum of 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m), made up of a hutch at least 6ft x 2ft (2m x 1m) and an attached run or enclosure. The height of any enclosure is very important, as they need space to jump and stand on their back legs.

Ensure that your rabbits are well protected by having a living space that has strong walls or a mesh/fence and dig-proof barriers to protect them against threats, such as foxes.

Clean out the enclosure regularly to prevent their home against flies. Line the home with newspaper or wood shavings, with plenty of hay on top. The sleeping area, food and toilet areas should be separate to their home.

Weatherproof the home and ensure it is free from leaks. You can also raise the shelter off the ground to prevent it from getting waterlogged. Be mindful of the seasons, and keep the enclosure sheltered from the wind and rain and have shade available for when it gets warm. Consider moving the enclosure into a shed or indoors when the winter arrives.

Provide plenty of toys to keep your rabbits occupied. Despite having a friend/s for company, they can still get bored so need things that can stimulate them and keep them entertained.

Indoor rabbits

If you choose to house your rabbits indoors, ensure that they are safe. You will need to ensure they can’t come into contact with things that could be harmful – such as cleaning products. Rabbits can be curious, so rabbit-proofing is a must! Move things like wires, cables, ornaments etc so things don’t get damaged.

As with indoor rabbits, it’s important that they have space. Your rabbits’ indoor enclosure should have lots of space for them to roam, and they’ll still need access to the outdoors. The minimum area of their indoor enclosure should be at least 10 x 6 x 3 ft (3 x 2 x 1 m).

Make sure your rabbits have access to everything they need at all times – such as hay and water. And, as with outdoor rabbits, ensure they have toys to keep them occupied. Providing them with play items will keep their brains active and reduce the likelihood of them chewing on your furniture!

For more information on this year’s Rabbit Awareness Week campaign and for a full rundown of activities.

Pets Corner at PE1

Pets Corner, located at Peterborough One Retail Park, is an ethical pet store chain, with the main area of business being specialist natural pet foods, accessories and treatments. These are predominately for cats and dogs, but also for rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, birds, wildlife and fish.

Pets Corner stocks a variety of products and services to ensure your rabbit is kept in tip top health this Rabbit Awareness Week and beyond!

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