A study of more than 6,000 rabbits treated by vets has found that many lead sad lives. Here’s how to make sure they stay healthy and avoid loneliness

There are thought to be more than 1.5m pet rabbits in the UK, and a large proportion of them could be leading very sad lives. A study of more than 6,000 rabbits treated by vets found alarming health conditions such as overgrown nails and teeth, digestive problems and skin issues.

Thanks to generations of stories featuring rabbits, and their sweet, cuddly appearance, they have long been a popular children’s pet but, says Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer in companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, and co-author of the study, “they are not a good child’s pet at all.” They are a prey animal – constantly alert to danger – so being handled by a noisy child can be stressful, especially if they are not used to it (if a child, say, only plays with the rabbit at the weekend).

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