A rabbit is the third most popular pet in Britain, and one of the most neglected. In 40% of cases of rabbits being given up for re-homing it is after only 6 months of ownership.
"Mummy, can we have a dog?"
"No, it's too much work and I'll end up doing all the walking and cleaning up after it."
"But I want a pet!"
"Okay, we'll get something else instead."
"Can I have a wabbit? I love bunnies, they're soooo cute!"
"Yes, we'll got to the pet store at the weekend, but you will have to promise to look after it, do all the feeding and cleaning..."
"Of course I will, Mummy!"
At the pet store you buy a hutch. It's not very big but you accept that that is a good size for a rabbit if that is what is for sale. You also buy a big bag of 'Rabbit Food'. It's pelleted and has interesting raisony bits in it. Mmm tasty for my wabbit! You also buy wood shavings and some hay. If you had been reading a bit you might also pick up some colourful treats. You spend a lot. You take a shivering, terrified but cute, fluffy bunny rabbit home in a cardboard carrier.
Back at home you open the carrier and pull out your rabbit for a cuddle. It wiggles, struggles and tries to escape so you quickly put it into its hutch and shut the door to let it 'get used to it's new home'.
The 'cuddly fluffy bunny' you bought for your child didn't turn out to like being picked up very much and, perhaps, he gave your child a nip as he/she reached in to pull it out from under its hiding place. Hi hutch needed cleaning every day and a total clean out and disinfection once a week.
"Go and clean the bunny out", was a constant nag.
Because the bunny didn't respond in the assumed manner, and didn't really want to be lifted up, interest soon waned. The hutch only got cleaned once a week and certainly not disinfected.
The hutch has a small run underneath it, so the bunny could come down the ramp to the grass. It is tiny. He is getting bigger and can't stand up on his hind legs without bumping its head. Two long hops and he's across the length of it. He's very bored, and cramped. Sometimes you get him out and put him into a lawn run your bought, but that isn't much taller and he just flops and snoozes in it in the day anyway, so he's obviously not needing anymore space, right?
You feed him pellets and give him extra lettuce and carrots, which he isn't that interested in because you have given him too many pellets and he's full. He quite enjoys being petted, and will come onto your lap to eat, but he really hates being lifted up.
He also needs jabs of Myxomatosis, and VHD and at 5 months he needs to be neutered. A female rabbit needs to be spayed - 80% of rabbits who do not have this procedure will die of ovarian cancer. He needs the jabs every six months. He also needs to be treated for Fly Strike, every two weeks throughout the summer, and you find that a treatment pack isn't cheap either. Suddenly you have a burden.
After a while your child grows tired of the bunny. Yes, he's cute and he will eat lettuce from you hand but the novelty has worn off. You feel sorry for the poor thing but you really can't, and don't, want to have to feed and clean it every day, after all, you only got it on the condition that your child looked after it.
You are stuck with a rabbit, in a hutch that is too small, eating the wrong type of foods, getting no mental stimulation or company. His cramped conditions and bad diet could lead to expensive vet bills
You have no choice but to take him to a shelter so someone else can give him a home.
Organizations such as The Rabbit Welfare Association works to improve the lives of domestic rabbits across the UK through education and communication of what a rabbit needs to become a happy, healthy animal and a rewarding pet.
You can join at www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk or help a little buy buying a Widget and Friends bunny, where 10% will be donated directly to the fund.