RVC study helps to fill the evidence gap on UK pet rabbit health

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Academics from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have identified the most common medical issues and causes of death in pet rabbits, research which has never been done before.

Carried out as part of the RVC’s VetCompass™ programme, the study now gives us a much better picture of what needs to be done to keep the species, a popular pet among adults and children, healthy.

After collecting data from 6,349 rabbits that attended 107 veterinary care clinics across the UK, the researchers found that the most common causes of death recorded by vets are flystrike (10.9% of pet rabbits), anorexia (4.9%), collapse (4.9%) and gut stasis (4.3%). The study also revealed the average lifespan of pet rabbits was just 4.3 years, although survival up to 14.4 years has been recorded. Male rabbits tend to live longer at 5.2 years on average compared to the 3.7 years females live on average.

Meanwhile, the most common medical issues are overgrown nails (16%), overgrown molars (7.6%), dirty bums (4.5%), overgrown incisors (4.3%) and gut stasis (4.2%). Many of these problems are associated with inappropriate housing or feeding. However the fact rabbits evolved as a prey species has not helped owners and vets. Evolution has meant rabbits can disguise external signs of disease so that they are less likely to be targeted by predators but this also makes it harder for owners to spot that their rabbit is ill until it is often too late.

...follow the link to read the article in full on the RVC website...