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Thirty-one per cent of UK rabbits in inadequate housing
The research also identified that half of UK rabbits live alone.
New research identifies where resources would be most effective.

A new study from the University of Liverpool has discovered that 31.2 per cent of UK rabbits are being housed in inappropriate environments, such as hutches and small cages.

Researchers examined data from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report from 2017 to 2019, sampling 1,333 rabbit owners in the UK. 

Despite rabbits enjoying the status of third most popular pet in the country, research has highlighted a low awareness among the general public of specific rabbit welfare requirements.

Inadequate housing provision was reported by owners across a wide spectrum of ages, genders and deprivation levels, however, researchers identified particular demographic groups as being most likely to do so.

These groups included male owners aged 25-34 years old, owners with a below-average household income and owners living in deprived areas. Despite this, the researchers warn that the study cannot determine a causal effect, with more research required to determine the factors behind these associations. 

Grace Mee, first author of the study who completed the research during her time at the university studying for a veterinary degree, commented: “Rabbit sales increased by over 200% in 2020, which was more than that of cats or dogs. However, rescue centres are now currently overwhelmed with unwanted pet rabbits. 

“As the third most common pet, I hope that our research will help in providing resources where they will be most helpful to support owners in meeting the welfare needs of their rabbits.”

In identifying particular owner demographics that may need more targeted resources, the researchers suggest that all owners should receive clear and consistent advice regarding rabbit housing, as it is widely misunderstood at all demographic levels, but that there is a potential emphasis target audience for pre- and post-sale education. 

Dr Carri Westgarth, project supervisor and senior lecturer in human-animal interaction at the University of Liverpool, said: “It is essential that there is a shift in rabbit hutch manufacture – rabbits need space and this should be reflected in commercially available housing options for owners. 

“Vets, pet shops, breeders and rescue centres can also help by educating potential owners on the specific requirements of rabbit care.”

Published in Veterinary Record, 'Owner demographic factors are associated with suitable pet rabbit housing provision in the United Kingdom' is available to read via this link, and is open access. 

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Laura Muir wins gold at Commonwealth Games

News Story 1
 Veterinary surgeon and Olympic silver-medalist Laura Muir scooped the gold medal in the 1500m final Commonwealth Games on Sunday.

Winning Scotland's 12th title of the games, Muir finished in four minutes 2.75 seconds, collecting her second medal in 24 hours.

Dr Muir commented on her win: "I just thought my strength is in my kick and I just tried to trust it and hope nobody would catch me. I ran as hard as I could to the line.

"It is so nice to come here and not just get one medal but two and in such a competitive field. Those girls are fast. It means a lot." 

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News Shorts
Views sought on NOAH Compendium

Users of the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) Compendium app and website are being asked to share their views on how it can be improved.

In a new survey, users are asked about some suggested future developments, such as notifications for new and updated datasheets, sharing links to datasheets, and enhanced search functionality.

It comes after NOAH ceased publication of the NOAH Compendium book as part of its sustainability and environmental commitments. The website and the app will now be the main routes to access datasheets and view any changes.