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Thursday 19 October 2017

Is your rabbit stressed? Free pet health checks across Ireland in May

Some 70 pc of Ireland's pet rabbits do not have a digging area Credit: RSPCA
Some 70 pc of Ireland's pet rabbits do not have a digging area Credit: RSPCA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Pet owners can make the most of free rabbit health checks this May as Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) springs into action.

For the next three weeks, veterinary practices all over Ireland will be offering free rabbit health checks.

Pet owners can hop over to www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk to find their nearest vet practice taking part in RAW.

Focusing on ‘Room for Rabbits’, this year’s RAW (9th – 17th May) coincides with new research from the University of Bristol revealing that many rabbits are living in conditions which “are potentially detrimental to their welfare”.

“The study showed that 59 pc of rabbits live in hutches, and less than a quarter have continual access to an exercise area,” said Dr Jane Tyson, Rabbit Behaviour and Welfare Expert.

“Rabbits should have constant access to an appropriate exercise area to allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours and for their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Veterinary practices all over Ireland are offering free rabbit health checks for May Credit: RSPCA
Veterinary practices all over Ireland are offering free rabbit health checks for May Credit: RSPCA

“In the wild, rabbits spend most of their time foraging for food or digging a warren. Rabbits opportunities to hop and dig and a simple step to improve your rabbits’ wellbeing can be to provide a digging box, toys and hiding places.”

Following RAW’s biggest year ever in 2014, veterinary surgeries across Ireland have pledged to offer free health checks throughout the month of May, rather than just the week of RAW.

A survey carried out by RAW partners found that 70 pc of Republic of Ireland rabbit owners do not have a digging area for their pets, a housing requirement vital for their mental and physical health.

It was also revealed that over 30 pc of Irish respondents said they received very little information about how to care for their rabbits when they first took them home.

“We know that many owners are very attentive to their rabbits but don’t understand their complex needs when it comes to providing them with the best possible environment,” said Dr Tyson.

“This mental and physical stimulation not only keeps rabbits happy but also helps to keep them fit and healthy.”

Retailers and re-homing centres are also running other educational events to provide care and welfare advice.

To find out where your local free health check is visit www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk.

TOP FIVE TIPS FOR RABBITS

Think Outside The Box: Rabbits are active animals so attaching a large exercise area to their shelter gives them permanent access to all areas of their accommodation.

The Right Spot: The housing area should be dry, draught-free, well-ventilated and out of direct sunlight

Clean Bunnies: A rabbit’s house should be cleaned at least once a day, and check your rabbits for signs of flystrike every day.

Safe Haven: As they are a prey species, rabbits need somewhere hide from things that scare them.

Play Time: Willow balls or toilet roll tubes stuffed with good quality dust-free hay are mentally stimulating and encourage natural foraging behaviour whilst being a form of exercise.

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