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How Many Pet Rabbits are There in the UK? (Statistics to Know in 2022)

Brooke Billingsley

This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Rabbits are one of the most beloved and popular pets in the UK. They’re fun, loving pets that exhibit surprisingly complex social interactions. Rabbits are often underestimated and it’s not uncommon for them to be acquired by people who don’t fully understand their needs. This may have led to a significant decrease in the number of pet rabbits in the UK in the last decade, but the good news is that rabbit ownership is back on the incline. Here’s everything you could want to know about pet rabbits in the UK.

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The 12 Most Common Statistics About Rabbit Ownership in the UK

  1. Currently, there are approximately 1.1 million pet rabbits in the UK.
  2. As of 2019, 25% of the pet rabbits living in the UK were not being kept in adequate housing.
  3. Around 49% of rabbits live alone.
  4. At least 21% of the pet rabbits in the UK aren’t being fed a proper diet.
  5. Rabbits should have round-the-clock access to everything to meet their needs.
  6. They should regularly see a veterinarian for a number of reasons.
  7. Hay and grasses are extremely important to your rabbit’s wellbeing.
  8. Rabbits became the unofficial pet mascot of COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.
  9. The price of pet rabbits increased notably during lockdown.
  10. The home environment for many rabbits improved during COVID-19 lockdown.
  11. The spending on pet rabbits increased during COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.
  12. People are spending more time with their pet rabbits…and enjoying it!

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Facts About Pet Rabbits in the UK

1. The number of pet rabbits in the UK peaked around 2012 with approximately 1.3 million rabbits.

(Statista)

Interestingly, the numbers declined, dropping as low as 600,000 rabbits between 2018 – 2020. However, between 2020 – 2021, rabbit ownership peaked again, hitting 1.1 million rabbits in the UK.

English Lop rabbit
Image Credit: Napa Chaichanasiri, Shutterstock

2. At least 25% of the rabbits in the UK are not kept in adequate housing

(Response Source)

According to a survey performed by Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW). Inadequate housing can be defined as an inappropriate cage or hutch or inadequate shelter from the elements and predators.


3. The same survey showed that around 49% of rabbits lived without a rabbit companion

(Response Source)

Although it is recommended to keep rabbits in pairs. Rabbits have complex social structures and interactions and do not like to live alone. When kept alone, rabbits can become bored, stressed, and prone to illness.


4. At least 21% of the rabbits kept as pets in the UK are reportedly fed a Muesli-based diet

(Response Source)

Unfortunately, this type of diet is not appropriate to be fed as the bulk of a rabbit’s daily diet. Their diet should primarily consist of hay, like Timothy hay, with feed being offered in moderation.

Rabbit eating food
Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

divider-rabbitpaw1The Surprisingly Complex Needs of Rabbits

5. Rabbits need unfettered access to food and water

(RSPCA)

It may seem obvious, but rabbits should always have access to everything to meet their needs. This includes play and exercise space, a space to relieve themselves, their rabbit companion or companions, toys, chews, bedding, and hiding places.


6. Rabbits should be seeing a veterinarian regularly

(RSPCA)

Rabbits that are not being used for breeding should be spayed/neutered to prevent reproductive-related cancers and diseases. They also need to see a vet to diagnose and treat parasitic infections, skin infections, tooth and nail problems, vaccines, and general health checkups

vet checking rabbit
Image Credit: Elnur, Shutterstock

7. The main source of nutrition that rabbits receive should be from hays and other grasses

(RSPCA)

This diet can prevent many types of dental and digestive diseases and discomfort. Other foods, treats, and supplements may be necessary to prevent deficiencies, but pet rabbits should always have access to healthy hays and grasses.


The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Pet Rabbits in the UK

8. During the COVID-19 lockdown, pet rabbit sales increased by 212%.

(Vet Times)

All other pet sales paled in comparison, with kitten sales increasing by 58% and puppy sales increasing by 55%. Of the pet rabbits sold, mini lops were the most popular breed, with mixed breed rabbits being the second most popular and lionheads being the third.


9. The average cost of a pet rabbit increased by around 17% during COVID-19 lockdown

(Vet Times)

Owning a rabbit is now peaking at about £50 per rabbit. Some rabbit supplies have also increased in cost, with a pet rabbit potentially costing in excess of £1,000 annually.

white satin rabbit lying on green grass field
Image Credit: Katesalin-Pagkaihang, Shutterstock

10. During COVID, pet rabbits environment improved

(Response Source)

The extended time at home led many people to make improvements to their rabbit’s home environment. In fact, 26% of rabbit owners who participated in a survey reported having spent money to better their rabbit’s environment. This includes making changes to the hutch or cage, improving bedding or hides, and making the environment safer and more secure for the rabbit.


11. Spending on rabbits increased during the pandemic

(Response Source)

A shockingly large number of rabbit owners in the UK reported increased spending on toys and other enrichment items for their rabbits. Of those surveyed, 47% said they had increased their spending on toys and enrichment items for their rabbit.


12. The pandemic led to spending more time with their rabbits

(Response Source)

Throughout COVID-19 lockdown, 88% of UK residents who owned pet rabbits reported spending more time with their rabbit or rabbits. Of those people, 99% of them reported enjoying the extra time they were able to spend with their rabbit.

argente brun baby bunny
Image Credit: Antonia Giroux, Shutterstock

Divider-rabbit2Frequently Asked Questions About Rabbit Ownership

Does my rabbit need a companion?

Yes! Rabbits are social animals that should be kept in pairs or groups. Due to their complex social hierarchies, research and care is required to ensure you end up with a proper ratio of males to females and that you have plenty of space for your rabbits. (Rabbit Welfare)

Can I keep a rabbit with my guinea pig?

Rabbits and guinea pigs should not be kept together. Not only do they have different environmental needs, but they also have different dietary requirements. Not all rabbits or guinea pigs will get along with other species of animals either.

Are rabbits good pets for kids?

Rabbits are generally not good pets for children, especially young children that are expecting a pet they can handle and regularly interact with. Many rabbits do not like to be picked up or handled, which can be difficult for children to understand. Forcing physical interactions on rabbits can lead to stress and a shortened life expectancy. Rabbits also require more care and commitment than many children are able or willing to provide.

Are rabbits easy to care for?

Although they are not difficult pets, rabbits are also not easy pets to care for. Their care requires time every day to ensure their environment is clean and adequate, their diet is appropriate, and they are in good condition. Expect to commit at least 30 – 60 minutes daily to the maintenance of your rabbit’s environment and your interactions with your rabbit.

Rabbit Shredding
Image Credit: Wanwajee Weeraphukdee, Shutterstock

Are rabbits inexpensive to own?

The annual cost of owning a rabbit is variable, but they are not cheap pets. Between environmental cleaning and maintenance, food, bedding, and toys and enrichment items, rabbits can exceed £1,000 in expenses per year.

Can rabbits live in cages or hutches?

It depends. The amount of space and the type of enclosure is important to answering this question. Many enclosures sold at pet stores are not adequate for the long-term keeping of a rabbit, and they are almost never adequate for multiple rabbits. The amount of uninterrupted space is important, as well as the type of material the enclosure is made of. Also, the amount of space your rabbit has outside of the enclosure every day matters. If your rabbit gets free roam of a room in your home and is only in its cage at night, then the enclosure can be smaller than it would be for a rabbit that will spend most of its time in the enclosure itself.

Is it necessary to spay/neuter rabbits?

While it isn’t necessary to spay/neuter your rabbit, it is strongly recommended. Obviously, if you intend to breed rabbits, you shouldn’t have them fixed. However, you should only be breeding rabbits if you have thoroughly researched the prospect, have spoken to reputable breeders, and have set aside enough money and curated an appropriate environment for rabbit breeding. For non-breeding rabbits, spaying/neutering is recommended to prevent accidental litters and reproductive-related diseases.Divider-rabbit2

Conclusion

Rabbits are widely considered to be one of the most abused and neglected pets in the UK, even though they are the third most populous pet in the UK. This is due to a gross misunderstanding of the intelligence and needs of rabbits, as well as poor planning and education on the part of people who purchase rabbits. Tens of thousands of rabbits go through rescues in the UK every year, so it’s important to properly research and understand the care needs of rabbits before bringing your own pet rabbit home. This will keep both you and your rabbit or rabbits from becoming part of these negative statistics. If you do decide you are ready to bring home rabbits, aim to be one of the positive statistics by creating an enriching, safe, happy environment for your rabbits.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Brooke Billingsley

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping has become a hobby of Brooke’s and she is continually learning how to give her aquarium pets the best life possible. Brooke enjoys plants and gardening and keeps a vegetable garden during the summer months. She stays active with yoga and obtained her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2020. She hosts a podcast focusing on folklore and myth and loves spending her free time researching and writing. Brooke believes that every day is an opportunity for learning and growth and she spends time daily working toward new skills and knowledge.