Rabbit Welfare Statistics – PAW Report 2013

The third annual PDSA Animal Welbeing Report came out at the end of the last year (see previous years 2011 & 2012). The PAW Report is the PDSA’s survey of various things that effect animals welfare, so things like: are they getting the right foods, do they get enough exercise and appropriate health care. It covers cats, dogs and rabbits, though, of course, it’s the later that I’m going to tell you about.

I do like a nice bit of data to quantify the issues; it’s nice to have numbers on how good (or bad) things are, that way you tell whether things are getting better (or worse). Sometimes it can feel like no matter how much you harp on about rabbit welfare things don’t improve, but is that actually true?

Here are the figures in a nice graphic (feel free to share that around):

paw report 2013 rabbits

So what do all those numbers mean?


I think this area has shown most improvement. There is a big decrease in muesli, possibly relating to the publicity around the muesli research I posted about, and an uptick in hay eating. As diet makes a bit impact on rabbit’s physical health, that’s a great thing for rabbit’s welfare. It’s likely to mean few cases of dental disease, obesity and digestive issues.


This is an interesting one because neutering has increased, which is good news as it helps prevent behaviour problems, unwanted pregnancies and shows owners are willing to get routine vet care. However, what surprises me is there hasn’t been a corresponding downward trend in rabbits living alone. I’d have expected that with more rabbits neutered they’d go on to having a companion. Perhaps there is a gap in education there – we’re doing a good job of selling the health and behaviour benefits but haven’t got the message about companionship out as widely.


There is a turn for the worse here, with less rabbits getting daily exercise in a run or garden, or having the opportunity to play with toys. That’s bad news, as exercise and enrichment activities are also important for rabbit’s well-being. Rabbit’s that don’t get enough exercise and stimulation are more likely to display problem behaviours and generally be unhappy.

It seems an odd thing to change for the worse when there have been a lot of changes for the better. I wonder if some of this could be down to the phrasing of the questions, for example Scamp doesn’t exercise in a run or the garden. Maybe the question is tricky for house rabbit owners to answer? Just one thought – stats don’t always show a clear picture.


On the whole though, I there are some positive changes. What do you think, are things getting better or worse for rabbits?

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2 Responses to “Rabbit Welfare Statistics – PAW Report 2013”

  1. Rose says:

    Some good changes here, I’m glad that most elements of rabbit welfare seem to be improving. Also being a house-rabbit owner, I do think you are correct in saying maybe the questions about exercise may have impacted the answers. Maybe there should be a few questions like “how many hours exercise does your rabbit get on a daily basis?” My boy gets 4-6 hours at least per day, but goes back to his house overnight and when we are not able to supervise.

    I’ve been quite annoyed recently at rabbit welfare pages on facebook almost shaming people because they do not have a partner for their rabbit. Whilst I do think company is needed for most buns, and I do understand its an important issue to address, I do feel like I’m being shamed for having a single neutered bun. My boy lives alone but he is bonded to me and is a house rabbit like Scamp. He has stuffy bears to groom and lay beside, countless toys, and he gets plenty of interaction. Although if he was outside and I could not give him as much attention I would say a partner would be essential.

  2. Vicki says:

    @Rose. That is word for word what I used to say, “My boy lives alone but is bonded to me” I used to believe that too, that I more than made up for a companion. The thing about toys also – that just brought a tear to my eyes.
    I had one bun for many may years, then took on a rescued, very fragile little boy. After the vets, he had to stay in a cage for three months and the plan was to introduce to my wee girl, who (I thought) didn’t even think she was a rabbit. I had had her for years, just her and me. She rolled over by his cage the instant she saw him and didn’t leave (apart from the necessary) for 8 weeks, which was all I could manage!

    It is amazing watching them together, it is pure love, bunnies bond so deeply, pure bliss. They run around one after the other, so funny, they play, they roll. I just sit often and watch them. But my worry that two would mean they had no time for me? That is wrong too, it’s like they bonded together first then to me. I am honoury bun! They come cuddle in after they get dinner and I sit with them both cuddled up to me – eyes closed.

    Seeing what you said above makes me sad as it was exactly what I said – almost word for word. Having watched my two together, I know know there is no substitute, they need each other. I regret ever having one without a bonded friend, I’d never ever go back now I know what is right for them.

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