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Rabbit-Welfare / Back

Common Myths

COMMON MYTHS

 

Child with RabbitMYTH: Rabbits make good pets for children

 

TRUTH: Contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not make suitable pets for children, and are a more complex animal than many people realise. Children may not be able to fully understand the needs of the rabbit, or have the patience it takes to establish a relationship with it and soon lose interest. Rabbits are prey animals, making them wary of danger and scared of loud noises and sudden movements, eg. excited children. Small children should always be supervised to ensure they take proper care of the rabbit and handle it in the correct way. Most rabbits don’t like being picked up or cuddled, and if dropped, can be easily injured. A child could unintentionally cause a rabbit to become stressed and frightened, which could lead them to fight back at the child or develop illness. As the adult, it is ultimately your responsibility to look after a pet and teach your child how to be a responsible pet owner, allowing them to help out with day to day care. [67]

 

 

Rabbits in HutchMYTH: Rabbits are boring pets that just sit and live in hutches

 

TRUTH: Rabbits need much more than just a small hutch at the bottom of the garden. Being confined to a small space will prevent a rabbit from being able to display natural behaviours. This will lead to them becoming depressed and frustrated with their living conditions, hence why the perception is that it’s normal to see a rabbit just sit and do nothing. In reality, they are stressed and do not have the freedom to move around in the way they want to. If they are not given the chance to fulfil their needs and live a normal life, a rabbit will try to cope with the lack of stimulation by expelling frustrations with aggression or by being lethargic and depressed. You may also see them displaying behaviours of pulling out their fur, constantly gnawing at their cage or repeatedly circling it. Rabbits also have a very fragile bone structure. Without the space for adequate exercise, their bones will weaken and their muscles waste away, causing health problems. [67] Rabbits should live in accommodation that gives them plenty of space to run around and a sheltered place to hide away, and have access to both these areas 24 hours a day. (See Housing Standards)

 


MoneyMYTH: Rabbits are cheap and easy pets to keep

 

TRUTH: Rabbits might be cheap to buy, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are a cheap easy pet. There’ll be costs for suitable housing and equipment, food supply, bedding, toys, cleaning products, vaccinations, neutering, vet bills, pet insurance, etc. It’s estimated that to keep a pair of outdoor bunnies, there’ll be an initial outlay cost of around £802, and around £1,550 every year in general maintenance costs (remember, the average lifespan of a rabbit is 8 – 12 years, so will add up over the lifetime of your pet). Plus you will need to add to that the cost of any additional unexpected veterinary treatments. [5] (See The Real Cost of Keeping a Pet Rabbit)

 


Rabbit Eating CarrotMYTH: Rabbits eat carrots

 

TRUTH: Rabbits don’t naturally eat root vegetables. Carrots are high in sugar and should only be given in small amounts as occasional treats. [18] (See Diet – What do Rabbits Eat)

 


MYTH: Lettuce is rabbit food

 

TRUTH: Rabbits shouldn’t eat certain lettuces, eg. Iceberg, as they can be harmful. Darker, leafy, fibrous varieties are best, as they are higher in fibre and nutrients. Light coloured lettuce varieties have a high water content and little nutritional value, so are not recommended. [18] (See Diet – What do Rabbits Eat)