25th February 2011, 11:43am
Rabbit owners asked to shed light on their pet’s habits
rabbit Researchers at the University of Lincoln are looking for owners of pet rabbits to take part in an online survey. The findings will help in the development of educational resources on the various aspects of rabbit ownership.

Jessica Hardiman, who is conducting the research for her PhD in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, said: “Within the UK there are around 1.5 million domestic rabbits, yet little scientific research has focused on them. While there are guidelines and advice about looking after rabbits available from various organisations, these can differ and be confusing for rabbit owners.
  
“By undertaking this online questionnaire, we hope to find out more about the rabbit population, such as who keeps rabbits, what do people do with them, why do people have them, and what influences all of these decisions.”

The survey should only take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and is part of a much larger PhD project.

“We will also look at relinquishment, that is, why some people decide to give up their pet rabbits, and the behaviour of the rabbits,” added Jessica. “After completing the questionnaire people can choose to play a more involved part in the study if they wish and I will contact them for detailed information about their pet’s behaviour - but this is completely optional.”

The information collected via the questionnaire will be vital in helping the project, entitled Management of pet rabbits: Owner motivation, knowledge and animal welfare, result in the development of educational resources on the various aspects of rabbit ownership. This information can then be used by current and potential rabbit owners, vets, welfare organisations and breeders. It is hoped this will improve owner’s relationships with their rabbits and reduce the number of rabbits relinquished each year.

The questionnaire is online now at the following address: www.rabbitsurvey.com

If you would like more information on either the study or a paper copy of the questionnaire sent to you, please contact Jessica on 01522 895488 or jhardiman@lincoln.ac.uk
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