This year sees the magical combination of Royal Wedding and Chinese Year of the Rabbit! The Rabbit Welfare Association (RWAF) is taking a different twist on the Royal Wedding, asking rabbit owners to use the marriage vows as a reminder of the life long promises we should make when we take pet rabbits into our lives.
“There is much more to keeping rabbits than many people realise”, says Rae Todd, RWAF Chief Executive. “People need to think long and hard about the responsibilities involved before they make the jump into rabbit ownership. Just as with a marriage, they should think of it as a lifetime commitment - to love and protect, in sickness and in health, for a lifetime.”
LOVE - “Rabbits need companionship,” says Rae, “and, just like William and Kate, are happier when they are together. Ideally this should be in neutered mixed-sex pairs or compatible groups.”
HONOUR - “Honour your commitment to your rabbits, including spending an hour every day to feed and care for them, regularly cleaning out their accommodation and ensuring they are happy.”
OBEY - “Obey the law,” Rae warns. “The Animal Welfare act outlines what responsible pet ownership involves. For rabbits, this means companionship, daily exercise and good appropriately sized housing as well as providing the right diet and plenty of hay and water.”
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH - “Rabbits need vaccinations as well as careful observation that their teeth are healthy, nails and coat are in good condition and they are eating all their food. Remember to check their bottoms daily for fly strike too. If you are ever worried about the health of your rabbits, you should immediately take them to a rabbit savvy Vet.”
AS LONG AS YOU BOTH SHALL LIVE - “Rabbits can live for up to 10 – 12 years. This is a long term partnership!”
The old notions that rabbits are cheap and easy children’s gifts are giving way to a greater understanding that they are demanding pets that require a considerable amount of attention and money. They should not be kept in a small hutch at the end of the garden. The RWAF has run a successful campaign emphasising that A Hutch is Not Enough. As a result there is a greater understanding that rabbits need interaction and enough space to be able to both hide securely and exercise actively.
Anyone who wishes to help the Rabbit Welfare Association improve the lives of domestic rabbits can visit http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk and join the association. Annual membership includes subscription to the quarterly magazine ‘Rabbiting On’. The website also provides a host of information about what rabbits need to live the lives they deserve. In the meantime, the RWAF hopes everyone enjoys the extended royal wedding bank holiday and encourages all rabbit owners to use the royal vows as a reminder that taking on pet rabbits is an equally big commitment.