Study helps fill the evidence gap on pet rabbit health

rabbit health

In research never done before, academics from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London, have identified the most common medical issues and causes of death in pet rabbits.

Carried out as part of the RVC’s VetCompass programthe study gives a much better picture of what needs to be done to keep the species, a popular pet among adults and children, healthy. 

After collecting data from 6,349 rabbits that attended 107 veterinary care clinics across the UK, the researchers found that the most common causes of death recorded by vets are flystrike, anorexia, collapse, and gut stasis. 

The study also revealed the average lifespan of pet rabbits was just 4.3 years, although survival up to 14.4 years has been recorded. Male rabbits tend to live longer at 5.2 years on average compared to the 3.7 years females live on average. 

Meanwhile, the most common medical issues include overgrown nails, overgrown molars, and dirty bums, often due to inappropriate housing or feeding. 

“For years, rabbits were considered as the perfect child’s pet: fluffy, cute, passive and only needing minimal care and handling while being fed muesli-type food in a hutch in the garden where it was generally kept on its own,” VetCompass researcher Dr Dan O’Neill said.

“We now know that this level of care is completely unacceptable from a welfare perspective.”

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