Rabbits are social animals and should be kept in groups. European Food Safety Authority Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Animal Welfare recommends keeping rabbits in groups of around seven to nine preferably from the same litter to minimise aggression.
Breeding does can be housed in groups if they are given sufficient space and adequate nesting facilities to avoid problems with aggression.
Some small-scale and organic rabbit farms use larger floor pens instead of cages, which allow the rabbits more space and freedom of movement and opportunities for social interaction and play.
Environmental enrichment can be used such as straw or hay and wooden blocks for gnawing. These can help to occupy the rabbits and reduce abnormal stereotypical behaviour. Providing an elevated platform, partitions and tunnels or other covered areas can make the environment more interesting and provide areas where rabbits can retreat and hide.
Rabbits should also have access to substrate for digging like soil and ideally through access to an outdoor run.
What you can do
- Join Four Paws and support our work to improve the welfare of farmed rabbits
- Avoid buying meat from intensively farmed rabbits and encourage friends and family to do the same
- If your local supermarket stocks farmed rabbit, write to them to ask about the conditions the animals are reared in and ask them not to stock meat from rabbits farmed in cages
- Write to your local newspaper to highlight the welfare problems and suffering of farmed rabbits or ask your local radio station to cover the issue