Scholarly Research on Rabbit Welfare, Behavior and Housing

This article features recent scholarly works on companion rabbit behavior, welfare, and the rabbit-human relationship, commonly known as ‘pet rabbits’ in academic writings.” For articles focused on health, visit our health research page.


Sharon Crowell-Davis, DVM, PhD, DACVB, Rabbit Behavior, Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, VOLUME 24, ISSUE 1, P53-62, JANUARY 2021

Ángela González-Martínez, Sandra Castro, Fernando Camino, Belén Rosado, Isabel Luño-Muniesa, Fco J. Diéguez, Epidemiology of behavioural problems in pet rabbits: An owners’ survey, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 49, 2022, Pages 65-70, ISSN 1558-7878,

Dario d’Ovidio, Ludovica Pierantoni, Emilio Noviello, Federica Pirrone, Sex differences in human-directed social behavior in pet rabbits, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 15, 2016, Pages 37-42, ISSN 1558-7878, DOI:

Dobos, Petra, Laura Nikolett Kulik, and Péter Pongrácz. “The amicable rabbit–interactions between pet rabbits and their caregivers based on a questionnaire survey.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 260 (2023): 105869. DOI:

Environmental Enrichment

Claire Speight (2016) Environmental Enrichment for Pet Rabbits – How Can the RVN Help Educate Owners?, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 31:5, 144-148, DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2016.1153990Obesity


James Andrew Oxley, Clare Frances Ellis, E. Anne McBride & Wanda Denise McCormick (2019) A Survey of Rabbit Handling Methods Within the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 22:3, 207-218, DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2018.1459192

Bradbury, A. G., and G. J. E. Dickens. “Appropriate handling of pet rabbits: a literature review.” Journal of Small Animal Practice 57.10 (2016): 503-509. DOI:

McIndoe K, Saunders R, Blackwell E, Rooney N. The effect of blindfolding and swaddling on the stress response to handling in domestic rabbits. Animal Welfare. 2022;31(1):27-36. doi:10.7120/09627286.31.1.003

Housing & Enrichment

Mee, Grace, et al. “Owner demographic factors are associated with suitable pet rabbit housing provision in the United Kingdom.” Veterinary Record 190.12 (2022): e1736.DOI:

Marcus Clauss, MSc, Dr med vet, DECVCN, Jean-Michel Hatt, MSc, Dr med vet, DACZM, DECZM (Avian) Evidence-Based Rabbit Housing and Nutrition, Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, VOLUME 20, ISSUE 3, P871-884, SEPTEMBER 2017. DOI:

Rescue, Rehoming, Population Statistics

PDSA (UK). The 2022 Animal Wellbeing Report (pdf)

Amelia J. Cook & Emily McCobb (2012) Quantifying the Shelter Rabbit Population: An Analysis of Massachusetts and Rhode Island Animal Shelters, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 15:4, 297-312, DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2012.709084

Clare F. Ellis, Wanda McCormick & Ambrose Tinarwo (2017) Analysis of Factors Relating to Companion Rabbits Relinquished to Two United Kingdom Rehoming Centers, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 20:3, 230-239, DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2017.1303381

Cristina Díaz-Berciano & Miguel Gallego-Agundez (2022) Abandonment and rehoming of rabbits and rodents in Madrid (Spain): A retrospective study (2008-2021), Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2022.2162342

R.A. Ledger, The relinquishment of rabbits to rescue shelters in Canada, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2010, Pages 36-37, ISSN 1558-7878,

Williams, Joanne M., et al. ““Rabbit Rescuers”: A school-based animal welfare education intervention for young children.” Anthrozoös 35.1 (2022): 55-73. DOI:

Socialization and Bonding

Burn C, Shields P. Do rabbits need each other? Effects of single versus paired housing on rabbit body temperature and behaviour in a UK shelter. Animal Welfare. 2020;29(2):209-219. doi:10.7120/09627286.29.2.209


Amber Foote (2020) Evidence-based approach to recognising and reducing stress in pet rabbits, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 35:6, 167-170, DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2020.1790449


PDSA (UK). The 2022 Animal Wellbeing Report (pdf)

Rioja‐Lang, Fiona, et al. “Rabbit welfare: determining priority welfare issues for pet rabbits using a modified Delphi method.” Veterinary Record Open 6.1 (2019): e000363. DOI:

McMahon, Sarah A., and Ellie Wigham. “‘All ears’: a questionnaire of 1516 owner perceptions of the mental abilities of pet rabbits, subsequent resource provision, and the effect on welfare.” Animals 10.10 (2020): 1730.DOI:

Ulfsdotter L, Lundberg A, Andersson M. Rehoming of pet rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Sweden: an investigation of national advertisement. Animal Welfare. 2016;25(3):303-308. doi:10.7120/09627286.25.3.303

Skovlund CR, Forkman B, Lund TB, Mistry BG, Nielsen SS, Sandøe P. Perceptions of the rabbit as a low investment ‘starter pet’ lead to negative impacts on its welfare: Results of two Danish surveys. Animal Welfare. 2023;32:e45. doi:10.1017/awf.2023.41

Nicola Martin (2012) The state of UK pet rabbit welfare – what we can do about it, Veterinary Nursing Journal, 27:2, 66-68, DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00146.x

Rooney, Nicola J., et al. “The current state of welfare, housing and husbandry of the English pet rabbit population.” BMC research notes 7 (2014): 1-13. DOI: Article Link

Schepers F, Koene P, Beerda B. Welfare assessment in pet rabbits. Animal Welfare. 2009;18(4):477-485. DOI:10.1017/S0962728600000890

Joerg Mayer, Susan Brown, Mark A. Mitchell, Survey to Investigate Owners׳ Perceptions and Experiences of Pet Rabbit Husbandry and Health, Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine,
Volume 26, Issue 2, 2017, Pages 123-131, ISSN 1557-5063,

Kristensen, Annika Udengaard, et al. “Survey of the Husbandry, Health, and Welfare of Norwegian Pet Rabbits.” Journal of Advanced Veterinary Research 13.5 (2023): 767-775. DOI:

KATA, SIPOS, and BODNAR KAROLY. “The positive effects of pet rabbits on the study and school attitudes of high school students.” Lucrari Stiintifice, Universitatea de Stiinte Agricole Si Medicina Veterinara a Banatului, Timisoara, Seria I, Management Agricol 22.2 (2020): 159-163. DOI:

Further Reading

An archive of older scholarly articles on rabbit welfare, behavior, housing and enrichment via the Wayback Machine.

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