19th May 2010, 4:12pm  (updated 20th May 2010, 11:04am)
Pet rabbits wanted for welfare research
Pet rabbits wanted for welfare research Researchers at the University of Lincoln’s Riseholme campus are appealing for rabbit owners to lend their pets for a study into pet rabbit welfare.

In particular the research will be looking into how much space pet rabbits need and the findings will inform national guidelines for their care and management.

Researcher Jessica Hardiman said: “Within the UK there are more than 1.5 million pet rabbits. This makes them the third most popular mammalian pet in the UK, yet little research has focused on their needs, especially their welfare and behaviour.

“Behaviours such as normal hopping, stretching and rearing may require more space for expression than is available in conventional hutches. We are particularly interested in dwarf, large and giant breeds as we plan to investigate the effect of rabbit size on spatial requirements, but are still interested in all breeds and sizes for this project and/or future studies.  

“Recruited rabbits will need stay with us for between three and six weeks and we will ensure they have the best care possible. Owners are very welcome to visit our animal facilities before or during loan periods and we will work with you on deciding a suitable date for your rabbit to come in.”

The project is funded by Universities Federation for Animal Welfare and is a continuation of a previous project carried out by the University of Lincoln. Free vaccinations are provided for all rabbits taking part in the study.

Lincoln resident Thirzah Wildman has two Belgian Hares (a large breed of rabbit). They are taking part in the research in a few weeks’ time.

Thirzah said: “I think it’s really important that research like this takes place when you consider that rabbit welfare seems to have been a low priority previously.

“I’ll be glad to get them back after six weeks, but it will be worth it if they contribute to improved living conditions for pet rabbits in the future. In the meantime, my garden will have a chance to grow back!”

If you can help by lending your rabbits to Riseholme or would like more information, please contact Jessica on 01522 895488 or jhardiman@Lincoln.ac.uk
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