We've launched the first part of our 'What Bugs a Bunny?'campaign, 'hay fever,' which highlights the fact many owners do not know what food is best for their rabbits.
A recent study commissioned by the RSPCA at the University of Bristol shows a lack of grass and hay in their diet is among the most important welfare issues affecting rabbits in the UK.
Bugs Bunny was wrong!
Our companion animal scientist Rachel Roxburgh says:
The RSPCA is trying to give rabbits hay fever! But not in a bad way - we want all pet rabbits to be eating hay as their main food.
People also think their rabbits should eat carrots because that's what Bugs Bunny does... but he's a cartoon - real rabbits don't talk, and they shouldn't be eating carrots too often either.
No such thing as 'rabbit food'
Despite the popular saying salad is 'rabbit food' a rabbit’s diet should not include too much lettuce and types like iceburg shouldn’t be fed.
Even more surprisingly, while many people think carrots are ideal food for bunnies, in fact they do not naturally eat root vegetables, cereals, or fruit. As carrots (and apples) are high in sugar they should only be fed in small amounts as an occasional treat.
Food for thought
Rabbit expert Rachel added:
Our research shows that even some of the most committed owners do not fully understand what foods are best for their rabbits’ health and welfare.
We know insufficient hay and grass can cause dental and digestive health problems and have an impact on rabbits' psychological wellbeing.
Yet many people do not realise good quality hay should be the main source of their food – seeing it merely as a bedding material.
What Bugs a Bunny?
‘Hay fever’ marks the start of our ongoing campaign on key welfare issues facing pet rabbits.
To find out more watch our new viral video: ‘No-one likes a grass - except rabbits'.
The overall campaign is called ‘What Bugs a Bunny?’
It is hoped in the long term this campaign will help improve the welfare of one of Britain’s most popular pets and encourage owners to learn more about these complex and interesting animals.