Analysis of Factors Relating to Companion Rabbits Relinquished to Two United Kingdom Rehoming Centers

Clare F Ellis, Wanda McCormick, Ambrose Tinarwo

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Rabbits are a common companion animal in the United Kingdom, and some reports have suggested that large numbers are relinquished to rehoming centers each year. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of rabbits relinquished to 2 UK rehoming centers and explore reasons given for relinquishment. The centers contributed data for all rabbits who entered their center during 2013 (n = 205). Most rabbits (59.5%) were relinquished by a guardian. Similar numbers of males and females were relinquished, and a larger number of rabbits were not neutered (72.4%) and adults (56%). Most rabbits were healthy on arrival (61.5%). The most common reasons for relinquishment were: "too many rabbits/unplanned litters" (30.3%) and "housing problems" (23.8%). Rabbit-related reasons accounted for 12.2% of rabbits relinquished. Reasons for relinquishment were associated with 1 of the recorded rabbit characteristics. Further detailed studies are needed to explore the dynamics of companion rabbit ownership and factors that affect the breakdown of rabbit-guardian relationships in the United Kingdom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-239
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Apr 2017


  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Bonding, Human-Pet
  • Female
  • Housing, Animal
  • Male
  • Ownership/statistics & numerical data
  • Rabbits
  • United Kingdom


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