APGAW Launches Update to Rabbit Welfare


PAAG is delighted that the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) has launched an update to the Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, educating both current and potential owners on the welfare needs of rabbits. Under the Act, it is the owner or keeper’s duty to care for their animals, and responsibility to meet their needs.  

The code details five minimum standards that must be met to ensure a rabbit’s wellbeing, they are: 

  1. Their need for a suitable environment; 
  2. Their need for a suitable diet; 
  3. Their need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns; 
  4. Any need they have to be housed with, or apart from, other animals; and 
  5. Their need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury, and disease.  

Previous Good Practice Codes for rabbits also included these five standards, however the updated advice is more reflective of recent peer-reviewed research and information provided by animal welfare professionals; this includes the handling of rabbits safely and their dietary needs. Certain PAAG members also had the opportunity to collaborate on the development of the updated codes, such as RSPCA, Rabbit Welfare Association, and the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). 

APGAW has found that rabbits often suffer from welfare issues due to a general lack of understanding towards their welfare needs. Other common pets – such has cats and dogs – have had Statutory Codes of Practice to protect their welfare for several years. The Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits was first introduced in 2021. The expansion of Statutory Codes of Practice to smaller pets represents a positive step towards considering all pets’ welfare. 

Beyond the updated Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits, APGAW has also released an infographic titled ‘Rabbit Roundabout’, which outlines the five key needs for pet rabbits. Intended for use in public settings, it is hoped that this will boost awareness of rabbit welfare. 

PAAG welcomes these updated Codes of Practice and additional materials which will expand public awareness of animal welfare needs. 

The full updated Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits can be found here: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Rabbit-CoP-July-2023-final.pdf  

You can read APGAWs statement here: https://apgaw.org/2024/03/08/good-practice-code-for-rabbit-welfare-launched/  

You can read Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund’s statement here: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/codes-of-practice/