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.

Take a video tour of our rescued rabbit run

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.

Fascinating facts about rabbits

Foot thumping

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.

Prey instincts

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.

Teeth growing

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.

Farmed vs Free

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.

Natural life expectancy
10-12 years
Reared for meat
3 months

Life in an intensive farm

  • Young rabbits reared for meat (also known as “fattening rabbits”) are commonly kept in cages with floor space no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper
  • Being kept in such small and barren cages can cause a host of problems. Rabbits may fight with and injure one another due to stress and they are susceptible to respiratory and intestinal diseases due to the poor conditions
  • Typically all breeding does will die or be culled and replaced every year, while between 15 and 30% of young rabbits fattened for meat are slaughtered before they are 12 weeks old.

Life at our sanctuary

  • Our two resident rabbits have access to a spacious yet secure outdoor run with mounds of earth and tunnels for them to explore
  • The rabbits have plenty of space to run, jump, dig, play and exhibit all of the behaviours that come naturally to them, as well as places to hide away if they want to
  • Alongside the outdoor enclosure is a large cosy hutch with individual sleeping compartments and enrichment items to keep them happy
Rabbits at Goodheart Farm Animal Sanctuary

Learn more about The Burrow

Take a look around our home for rescued rabbits and learn all about the history of this exciting project…

BIgwig and Fiver the Rabbits

Sponsor our rabbits

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!

Do rabbits make good pets for children

Do rabbits make good pets for children?

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.