Whether it’s spotting them grazing the fields and woods across the British countryside or as companion animals within our homes, rabbits are well known as cute and quirky creatures. It is maybe surprising, therefore, that they are still farmed for their meat and fur in this country, and, like cows, sheep and chickens, susceptible to suffering and exploitation within the industry.
Located over in our Outdoor Education Area, our Goodheart Rabbit Run, also know as The Burrow, is an exciting project which provides a spacious home for rescued rabbits within the beautiful surroundings of our sanctuary site.
When they sense danger, a rabbit may thump their back feet on the ground as a way of warning other rabbits about what they have heard or seen. Thumping is actually one of a number of ways these fascinating creatures send each other signals without making a lot of noise. As inherent prey species, it’s important for rabbits to be able to alert the rest of the group about potential danger without drawing attention to themselves. Other quiet behaviours include moving their ears in a certain way and tensing their facial muscles!
Also common amongst sheep, cows, horses and guinea pigs – binkying or “popcorning” happens when an animal is feeling particularly happy or full of energy and involves them giving an almost involuntary jerk of their whole body (sometimes into the air) like a kernel of popcorn in the microwave. We’ve seen our resident rabbits popcorning when given fresh hay and our sheep doing it when they re-join their friends after time apart. It’s important that rabbits, even small ones, are given plenty of space so they can run, jump and “popcorn” to their heart’s content.
Like many small mammals, rabbits haven’t lost their natural instincts to stay safe and out of harm’s way. Their ears are specially adapted to rotate 180 degrees so they can listen out for any predators and they will often seek out a place to hide if they feel afraid. If you have pet rabbits, it’s important to earn their trust before picking them up or trying to pet them, as this process can be unfamiliar and therefore scary for the rabbit in question.
Just like their smaller friends, guinea pigs, rabbits’ teeth never stop growing throughout their lifetime! In fact, a rabbits incisors can grow nearly 2mm in a week, which means that without the proper care, they can quickly become overgrown and problematic. Providing a pet rabbit with a plentiful supply of grass and hay should be enough to ensure their teeth are naturally ground down, however this can be supplemented with items such as wood blocks or chew toys and regular health checks to ensure their teeth are not growing too quickly.
You may be shocked to learn that rabbits are the fourth most farmed animal in the world. A large number of rabbits farms are located within the EU, with thousands of rabbits including breeding does (females) reared for meat in cramped wire cages.
Take a look around our home for rescued rabbits and learn all about the history of this exciting project…
Bigwig and Fiver were much-loved companion animals but came to Goodheart after their owner had a change of circumstances. These two colourful characters reside over in our Rescued Rabbit Run and spend their days munching on grass and chasing one another through their rabbit warren.
Why not help support their care by setting up a sponsorship? Click the button below to find out more!
Small mammals such as rabbits and guinea pigs are often considered cheap, easy-going first pets for children to look after. We discuss some of the complex care needs of these animals and why owning any pet is not a decision to be taken lightly.