Those of you with rabbits will no doubt already know that Saturday June 18th marked the start of Rabbit Awareness Week – an annual focus that runs until June 26th, covering all things leporine. Rabbit Awareness Week was established ten years ago by coalition of experts, organisations and welfare charities from the rabbit community, to educate old and young alike on the best ways to provide domesticated rabbits with happiness and health. You can find out more about the many aspects of RAW’s work here.
To mark the occasion, hundreds of vets, rescue centres and pet stores across the UK are holding special events; ranging from free health checks to food sampling and rabbit education workshops. 602 events across the UK have been registered on RAW’s website for 2016, so why not take a look at what’s happening near where you live here.
The RAW focus for this year is ‘#BuddiesforBunnies’ – just like us humans, rabbits are naturally social animals, which means that companionship is crucial for their wellbeing. Unfortunately, research finds that in stark contrast to this, 57% of the UK’s pet rabbits live alone. RAW 2016 aims to inspire pet carers to take on a suitable friend for their single rabbit by encouraging them to re-home a rabbit from a local welfare centre.
And there are certainly plenty of rabbits waiting for a new forever home – sadly over 67,000 rabbits are given up for adoption in the UK every year. So if your rabbit currently lives alone, please do consider finding him or her a new friend – not only will you improve your pet’s life, but you’ll be able to bring companionship to a local bunny who is currently housed with a rescue charity or welfare organisation – everybody wins!
There are some important things to remember when introducing a new rabbit to your current pet, and the RSPCA has an excellent factsheet on the topic:
- Provided both animals are neutered, a male and a female will live together quite happily. Single-sex pairings are also common
- As prey animals, rabbits are naturally cautious and territorial, and so the two animals should meet in a neutral environment for the first time – not in your current pet’s hutch or run for example
- Ideally, choose a large space with plenty of distractions (food, toys, hiding places)
- Introduce the two animals into the meeting area at the same time. The rabbits may ignore each other initially, or may watch carefully from a safe distance. If they begin to fight, separate the two and try again the next day. Keep persevering until the two rabbits bond
- At this stage it helps to position the two separate hutches facing each other so that the rabbits can get used to each other when they are not yet living in the same space
- Once the pair sit together and groom each other, you’ll know that they have successfully bonded. In almost all cases they will remain friends for life!
Aside from the #BuddiesforBunnies campaign, RAW also works to educate those with rabbits in their lives on the optimum conditions for pet rabbits. You can find lots of advice on diet, housing, behaviour and health issues on RAW’s website, as well as here.
Until next time, best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support
Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.