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Companion Animal Practice
Behaviour of the pet rabbit: what is normal and why do problems develop?
  1. Emma Magnus

    Emma Magnus is a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and for the past 10 years has been taking behavioural referrals from veterinary practices in East Anglia and North London, seeing owners of dogs, cats and rabbits. She holds a BSc in zoology, a masters degree in applied animal behaviour and animal welfare, and was one of the first to attain certification as a clinical animal behaviourist (CCAB). She is features editor of the small livestock journal Fur & Feather, has a regular ‘rabbits on the couch’ column within Rabbiting On, the journal of the Rabbit Welfare Fund, and is cofounder of the Rabbit Behaviour Advisory Group.


THE behavioural problems that owners commonly experience with their pet rabbits can be understood better, and hopefully resolved, if viewed in the context of the natural behavioural patterns of these animals. The simple but fundamental differences of carnivore versus herbivore, predator versus prey, are not always considered, and owners may approach problems as they would those in a dog or cat. While meant with the best of intentions, such a lack of knowledge of species‐specific behaviours can lead to physical and psychological welfare issues. This article discusses what motivates some of the more common problem behaviours of rabbits and what steps may be taken to address them.

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