Why rabbits are considered exotic species

March 03 2018

THERE are 1.3 million pet rabbits in the UK making them the country’s third most popular pet.

THERE  are 1.3 million pet rabbits in the UK making them the country’s third most popular pet. They are often classed as exotic species due to their unique health requirements and as such it is always wise to seek out a rabbit savvy vet for your pet. 

For instance, unlike cats and dogs, rabbits’ teeth grow constantly and unless the rabbit is fed a high fibre diet (predominantly grass and hay) to help them grind them down, their teeth they will keep growing and develop spurs that dig into the soft tissue in the mouth. This causes pain and a rabbit will often no longer want to eat certain types of food, or any food at all. Dental disease in rabbits can also do more complex things like damage the tear duct or nasal passages of the rabbit. This is just one of the reasons why Specialist treatment is often sought for rabbits by their owners. It is important to see a vet that understands the complex disease processes that can occur in these seemingly uncomplicated pets. 

Rabbits also need lots of space. Without good mobility they can develop skeletal problems, obesity and sores on their feet. Even though it is a common way of keeping rabbits, a conventional hutch is not enough. Rabbits should always be kept in pairs with their housing being a minimum of 6ft x 2ft to provide enough space for them to make at least three hops and stretch right out. They should also be able to stand on their back legs without their ears touching the roof. Rabbits need lots of exercise and therefore, ideally, their house should be attached to a minimum of an 8ft run. 

The Exotic Species Department at Highcroft Veterinary Hospital in Whitchurch, Bristol, provides Specialist level care for rabbits and other exotic species. It is also proud to be one of only a handful of veterinary practices in the UK to have been awarded Gold Status by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF)* 

To book an appointment, call Highcroft Veterinary Hospital in Whitchurch directly on 01275 832410. Alternatively, for more information call Longwell Green Veterinary Surgery on 0117 932 3660

*The RWAF is responsible for checking and recording all rabbit savvy vets in the UK. Vets on this list are required to have specialist equipment to deal with rabbits when they become unwell, and they must demonstrate an advanced understanding of a rabbit’s health and welfare needs.