PE01561: Pet Rabbit Welfare

Rural Affairs

Petitioner: Karen Gray on behalf of Rabbits Require Rights (Scotland)


Date Lodged: 10 April 2015

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to:

  • Introduce a licensing regime for sellers of young rabbits similar to that for young cats and dogs.
  • Initiate a ban on pet shop sales via the implementation of Ordinances Protecting Rabbits as is operational in numerous States & Cities in Northern USA & Canada.
  • Create minimum standards for rabbit related products, such as housing and feed.
  • Make one body responsible for overseeing and enforcing pet shop licensing regulations, e.g. the SSPCA.

Petition History:


12 May 2015: The Committee took evidence from Karen Gray. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish SPCA and the Pet Industry Federation and then the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 12 May 2015

27 October 2015: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report 27 October 2015

12 January 2016: The Committee agreed to close the petition, under Rule 15.7, on the basis that the Scottish Government is currently considering options in this policy area and that many of the concerns raised in the petition will be taken into account as part of this work. Link to Official Report 12 January 2016  

Written Submissions:

Please sign this petition & help us change the fact that pet rabbits are the most neglect pets in the UK despite being the 3rd most popular. We all have very busy lives and often see things that upset us but we don’t think we can make a difference, but we can! Just by taking a moment to sign this petition you will be helping towards ending the common place neglect suffered by many thousands of pet rabbits’.

There are 1.3 million pet rabbits in the UK but a whopping 97% of people surveyed did not realise how expensive they are to care for over their lifetime. (PDSA PAW report 2014).

Thousands of pet rabbits in the UK spend their entire lives confined to hutches or indoor cages the same size, or smaller than, the DEFRA guidelines - which state that hutched meat rabbits should have a minimum space of 0.75m2. This equates to a hutch with a floor space of 4ft x 2ft, and as hutches this size or smaller are commonly available it will shock many rabbit owners to discover their own pet is in fact worse off than a battery rabbit.

All the while the rabbit owning public continue to be sold neglect at every turn & by buying these products, continue to believe we are doing right by our pets; why else would they be for sale if harmful?
Many breeders and sellers continue to give the wrong advice and tell new owners that rabbits are happy kept alone and to spend the majority of their time in a hutch when both of these things are in fact cruel.

As such the sale of the animals, breeding, services & the sale of related products which are detrimental to their health urgently needs to be addressed, regulated & their welfare needs actively enforced & protected by law.

With an estimated 67,000 rabbits in Rescue during 2012 (RWAF study) our re-homing centres throughout the UK are struggling to cope both financially & emotionally, not only due to sheer number of rabbits needing new homes but the numerous complex health issues many arrive with. There simply aren't enough new homes to allow this practise to continue unheeded & as such, this 'industry' must be regulated.

As a nation of Animal Lovers, Scotland has the powers to set a precedent for the rest of the UK to follow by both tightening existing legislation & introducing new powers to ensure the welfare needs of these long suffering domestic pets are met and by doing so put an end to this out of control cycle of neglect.

We need to wake up to the fact that Rabbits are endearing, highly intelligent, inquisitive, active, agile, clean, funny & loving animals, which makes them the ideal companion pet for numerous owners & as such should be given the same level of protection as our cats & dogs enjoy & be treated accordingly. Rabbits have specific & complex needs; they are neither 'caged' pets nor suitable for children & as such these outdated viewpoints simply have to change!

Whilst improved education & awareness into the many issues that surround Rabbit Welfare is key, more proactive measures in the form of legislation to protect their welfare is required to not only curb the high numbers of rabbits available in our marketplaces, but reduce the burden on our rescues & lessen the high levels of (unintentional) neglect thereof.

Rabbits are not children's toys, easy pets or any less work than a cat or dog. It's time to educate people better to stop cruelty to rabbits. Too many rabbits are kept in small hutches by themselves and not able to display their natural behaviour. Dogs and cats are not sold in pet shops so why are rabbits?!

Lynne Grigor

14:17 on 10 Apr 2015

Rabbits lovely and sweet and should be cared for properly. Not neglected

sarah haigh

22:48 on 09 Apr 2015

Rabbit's have rights too.

William Franz

22:01 on 09 Apr 2015

Rabbits should never be bought on a whim. They can be expensive and time consuming pets that require commitment. They are also funny and endearing pets and should be treated with respect and care.

kay lawrence

21:26 on 09 Apr 2015

Too many rabbits are seasonal "novelty" pets who are kept in inadequate hutches, improperly fed and are severely neglected once the novelty wears off. If cats and dogs were generally treated in the same manner, I am sure there would be a far greater outcry. All animals should be treated with respect to their needs and not sold as seasonal or fashionable accessories by by breeders and pet shops.

K. Taylor

14:26 on 09 Apr 2015

Rabbits are probably the most a used of all companion animals, and need higher welfare standards.

Nicki Hughes

12:38 on 09 Apr 2015

Rabbits are both intelligent and loving. They deserve the same respect as all other living creatures on this planet.

Paul Cowell

11:46 on 09 Apr 2015

such complex animals yet sold or given to anyone who thinks they can care for them. pet supermarket chains place their sexually mature unneutered ex-stock rabbits in adoption pens in their stores and reduce the price or sell them for a donation thus giving rabbits away for as little as a few £'s to anyone without home checking to see if there is even proper housing & runs. rabbits need need vets that specialise in rabbit medicine and this is very expensive indeed. thousands upon thousands of rabbits live a miserable existence for their entire lives. time the government put a stop to it!

D Bain

17:44 on 07 Apr 2015

Think if the welfare of rabbits.

Vanessa Abdulla

19:18 on 05 Apr 2015

It can't come soon enough.

Michael Milne

12:50 on 05 Apr 2015

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