Nearly half (42%) of the pet rabbits that vets see in the UK spend their life alone, despite evidence showing that they are healthier and happier when housed with a suitable companion.
The veterinary profession is urging potential owners to consider taking on more than just one pet rabbit due to the importance of companionship for their physical and emotional health and welfare.
According to the 2019 PDSA PAW report, rabbits are the UK’s third most popular pet.
However, their needs remain very misunderstood. A recent British Veterinary Association survey of vets in the UK showed that 73% had seen pet rabbits who were not having all of their welfare needs met and of the rabbits they saw, 42% were housed alone.
In a joint position, the BVA, alongside the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), has called for greater awareness of the health and welfare benefits of housing rabbits in compatible pairs or groups.
Compatible rabbit companions – that is two of the same sex (preferably neutered) or of neutered opposite sex – can benefit from better physical and mental health, behavioural opportunities and emotional health.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Whether they are outside or inside, pet rabbits are highly sociable animals and benefit from buddying up with a suitable companion, so it’s a big concern that so many in the UK still live alone.
“It’s important to acknowledge the significance of companionship and adequate housing space to keep rabbits happy and healthy.”