SPCA New Zealand
Animal Advocacy

Position Statements


SPCA advocates that rabbits must only be kept as companions when a person has the knowledge, ability, and means to provide them with a Good Life where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met.

SPCA advocates that rabbits should be provided with sufficient space and enriched environment in order to meet their physical, health and behavioural needs. Rabbits are active and need opportunities daily to hop, run, jump, and dig. Rabbits need to be provided with a secure living environment large enough for them to stand fully upright on their back legs and stretch out fully when they are lying down. If rabbits are housed in a hutch, they should be provided with an additional area in which to exercise.

SPCA advocates for desexing of rabbits before they reach puberty.

SPCA recommends that rabbits are microchipped, vaccinated, desexed and provided regular veterinary care.

SPCA recommends finding a vet with experience and expertise in rabbit medicine. Rabbits typically hide signs of ill health so if changes in behaviour or health are observed they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately as this is a medical emergency.

SPCA advocates that rabbits should be provided with appropriate social contact of their own species.

Rabbits are social species and must be housed as a pair or larger group of desexed individuals, unless advised by a veterinarian.

SPCA opposes housing rabbits and guinea pigs together, as these species are not compatible.

Rabbits and guinea pigs are not compatible species and have different nutritional and living requirements. Being housed together can be stressful for both species and is associated with welfare harms.

SPCA recommends regular handling from an early age to promote the human-animal bond, minimise stress during routine care.

SPCA recommends indoor housing to provide opportunities for handling and promote the human-animal bond. Indoor housing promotes monitoring health and behaviour for early identification of issues. Rabbits should be provided with routine grooming, such as nail trimming and coat maintenance.

SPCA advocates for rabbits to be provided ad libitum high quality hay to ensure digestive tract health, reduce behavioural problems, facilitate proper tooth wear, and reduce the risk of obesity.

Provision of high quality hay is enriching for rabbits as they are kept more occupied with consuming hay as it is less energy-dense and requires longer feed times. Provision of hay can reduce wounding of cage mates, excessive grooming, and fur-chewing, which also benefits the digestive system, reduce chewing on other objects such as bedding; and promote urinary tract health through association with increased water intake.

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