Eric BlairFebruary 10th
2020

The British Veterinary Assocation (BVA) has called on the UK government to ban the sale of single rabbits.

The request has come from the BVA as they say rabbits are 'highly sociable’ creatures that are susceptible to suffering from loneliness if they’re not partnered up with at least one companion.

The organisation has cited research showing that almost half the number of rabbits kept as pets are lonely, with a recent survey of 18,000 vets in the UK revealing that 42% of rabbits are sold alone.

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Sadly, the survey also revealed that 73% of the vets surveyed had seen rabbits that were not having their welfare needs met by their owners, with a recent PDSA PAW report claiming that although rabbits are the UK's third most popular pets, there is concern that many owners don't understand their needs.

As a result of the findings, the association has called on government ministers to ‘encourage owners to buy rabbits in compatible pairs or groups in pet vending legislation’.

In fact, the BVA study found that companionship was so important to rabbits that often they would choose company over food, when offered one or the other.

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BVA president and small animal and exotics vet, 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.

“Anyone thinking of taking on a pair or group of rabbits should seek expert veterinary guidance to help make sure that the match is successful.

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"For example, if you're starting from scratch, a neutered pair is ideal but if you already have a lone rabbit and you're wondering whether you should get a companion, ask your vet what your options are, what companion would be best suited to your rabbit's health and welfare needs and the safest way to introduce them."

Additionally, the BVA warned rabbit owners not to keep their pets with guinea pigs as the partnering is ‘inappropriate’. 

This is because the two species have different dietary needs, and aren't able to provide the social functions each other require - such as mutual grooming - as well as the fact that guinea pigs are much smaller, and so are at risk of being injured by their larger friends, which I think we can agree, no one wants to see!

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