SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Rabbits

SPCA advocates that farmed rabbits must be kept in farming systems which allow the rabbits a choice of environments with sufficient shelter, shade and environmental enrichment which support their physical, health, and behavioural needs.

SPCA supports farming systems that give rabbits access to pasture throughout the year, or whenever conditions allow. Rabbits must be kept in enriched environments that provide for their behavioural needs, such as burrowing, hiding and gnawing. They must also have enough space to run and jump and sufficient height to raise themselves to their full height.

SPCA advocates that rabbits are kept in stable long-term groups throughout their lives and must never be housed individually except in specific temporary circumstances.

Rabbits are sociable animals who should not be kept in isolation, unless it is a temporary measure carried out on the advice of a veterinarian, or if the animal is a breeding buck or a female about to give birth or nursing young. In all other circumstances, rabbits must constantly be kept in company, preferably in stable pairs or groups. Single-housed rabbits must be able to have some social contact with neighbouring rabbits through pen partitions. Natural mating is always preferable to artificial insemination.

SPCA advocates for routine health management that includes vaccinations against rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).

SPCA supports the practice of vaccinating farmed rabbits against RHD to ensure their health is protected against the purposeful release of this virus as part of Regional Pest Management Plans. Rabbit farmers should seek advice from their veterinarian on the most effective vaccine to use and be in contact with the regional council to be aware when RHD releases will occur.

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