Table 2

Median scores of welfare issues from first online survey completed by rabbit experts for those issues given a score of 3 or above for prevalence, severity of duration of the welfare issue. Issues are presented in descending order for each measure of welfare impact based on median scores

Rank orderPrevalenceMedian scoreSeverityMedian scoreDurationMedian score
1Lack of prepurchase research of new owners5.07Inadequacy of diet (eg, rabbit muesli, high-sugar treats, lacking fibre)5.42Inadequacy of diet (eg, rabbit muesli, high-sugar treats, lacking fibre)5.36
2Representation of rabbits in the media (difficult to educate public)5.0Lack of general care—neglect5.17Lack of socialisation/handling5.16
3Inadequacy of diet (eg, rabbit muesli, high-sugar treats, lacking fibre)4.89Lack of socialisation/handling5.00Lack of recognition or treatment for poor heath5.11
4Reduced life expectancy4.89Failure to vaccinate (eg, against RHD-2)4.89Inadequacy of housing/environment (eg, small hutch, lack of bedding, no shelter)5.04
5Lack of socialisation/handling4.80Lack of recognition or treatment for poor heath4.85Lack of general care from owners/neglect5.00
6Failure to vaccinate (eg, against RHD-2)4.78Lack of fresh/clean water4.78Incorrect or insufficient advice given to new owners by breeders/sellers4.88
7Incorrect or insufficient advice given to new owners (eg, online, breeders, pet shops)4.7Rabbits regarded as cheap/replaceable pets4.74Lack of stimulation (boredom)4.88
8Rabbits regarded as cheap/replaceable pets4.64Lack of breeder regulation/breeding decisions4.72Inadequate social groups—solitary, overstocking, composition, and so on4.83
9Lack of knowledge by vets/underserved in practices4.59Inadequate social groups (eg, solitary, overstocking, composition, and so on)4.70Lack of breeder regulation/breeding decisions4.83
10Lack of stimulation (boredom)4.50Inadequacy of housing/environment (eg, small hutch, lack of bedding, no shelter)4.66Lack of prepurchase research of new owners4.77
11Inadequacy of housing/environment (eg, small hutch, lack of bedding, no shelter)4.46Using rabbits for entertainment purposes (eg, petting zoos, and so on)4.61Using rabbits for entertainment purposes (eg, petting zoos, and so on)4.67
12Using rabbits for entertainment purposes (eg, petting zoos, and so on)4.34Incorrect or insufficient advice given to new owners (eg, online, breeders, pet shops)4.60Lack of owner knowledge on basic rabbit behaviour and health4.64
13Lack of legal standards/requirements/inspections (eg, farm parks, petting zoos, and so on)4.31Lack of prepurchase research of new owners4.52Incorrect or insufficient advice given to new owners on online forums4.63
14Lack of breeder regulation/breeding decisions4.28Representation of rabbits in the media (difficult to educate public)4.33Representation of rabbits in the media (difficult to educate public)4.50
15Lack of general care from owners—neglect4.28Reduced life expectancy4.22Mis-sexing/failing to neuter/lack of awareness of benefits4.35
16Lack of fresh/clean water4.23Lack of owner knowledge on basic rabbit behaviour and health4.17Rabbits regarded as cheap/replaceable pets4.28
17Mis-sexing/failing to neuter/lack of awareness of benefits4.18Ear disease4.11Ear disease4.22
18Lack of research/knowledge/messaging on rabbit health/welfare4.17Lack of stimulation (boredom)4.11Lack of legal standards/requirements/inspections (eg, farm parks, petting zoos, and so on)4.15
19Lack of owner knowledge on basic rabbit behaviour and health4.13Lack of knowledge by vets/underserved in practices4.04Lack of knowledge by vets/underserved in practices4.03
20Lack of recognition or treatment for poor heath4.11Lack of legal standards/requirements/inspections (eg, farm parks, petting zoos, and so on)4.04Lack of fresh/clean water3.91
21Inadequate social groups—solitary, overstocking, composition, and so on4.03Lack of research/knowledge/messaging on rabbit health/welfare4.0Reduced life expectancy3.78
22Ear disease3.56Lack of research/knowledge/messaging on rabbit health/welfare3.77
23Failure to vaccinate (eg, against RHD-2)3.75
  • RHD, Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease.