Sunday, 1 July 2012

What bugs a bunny? Hay fever!

When the RSPCA asked me if I'd be interested in helping to raise awareness of their new Hay Fever campaign, I jumped at the chance (get it?!) as I realised that I've not blogged about many animal welfare issues. As a vegetarian, I've often been accused of eating rabbit food, so hopefully this post will disprove the common misconception that both vegetarian people and rabbits eat a similar diet!

Although I've never had a pet rabbit, I was concerned to read that 
a recent poll (commissioned by the RSPCA)* showed that only 8% of rabbit owners knew that hay and grass should make up the most significant part of a rabbit’s diet, as that's what they would eat naturally. Commercially produced pellets or cereal mix should only be fed as a supplement to this, along with washed, leafy greens and the occasion treat of root vegetables or fruit. 

A poor diet is only one of the issues affecting pet rabbits. Unfortunately, the RSPCA
 takes in thousands of neglected or unwanted bunnies every year and they see thousands more kept in small hutches all day with no company and no opportunities to play, exercise or graze on grass.

Whether you have a rabbit or not, it would be great if you could watch and share this fun video on Twitter or Facebook, to help the RSPCA spread the word:



The RSPCA have also put together the following tips, to help you look after your furry friends...

Dos:
A healthy rabbit diet should consist of:
● Mainly good quality hay which should be available at all times (a bundle of hay that’s as big as a rabbit  every day) and ideally also access to grass for grazing.
● Fresh clean grass (growing or picked by hand).
● An adult rabbit-sized handful of washed dark leafy greens such as cabbage, broccoli, kale and herbs such as parsley.
● A small amount of good quality commercial rabbit pellets, nuggets or cereal mix (no more than 25g per kg of body weight)
● Constant access to fresh, clean water.

Don'ts:

● Despite popular belief, a rabbit’s diet shouldn’t include too much lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is not suitable.
● Carrots and apples are high in sugar and should only be fed as an occasional treat.
● Fresh clean grass is great, but not lawnmower clippings! They can upset a rabbit’s digestive system and make them ill.

For more information on caring for your pet bunny, or to find out how to adopt a rabbit, visit the
RSPCA's rabbit welfare page.

*Study commissioned by the RSPCA: ‘Assessment of the state of rabbit welfare in the UK and prioritisation of issues’, an investigation of husbandry, housing and health (and other key issues) by a team of welfare scientists, behaviourists and vets at Bristol University in a 16-month study.


Image and video courtesy of the RSPCA.
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