Skip to main content

Rabbits Multiplying Like Rabbits: The Rise in the Worldwide Popularity of Rabbits as Pets

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Companion Animals in Everyday Life

Abstract

Rabbits are one of the world’s most recently domesticated animals, having been domesticated for food and fur in the first millennium after Christ. The idea of keeping rabbits as pets did not gain widespread acceptance in Europe and North America until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the late twentieth century, the house rabbit movement emerged, whereby rabbits graduated from outdoor, caged pets to indoor household companions, gaining a status among some which now approaches that of cat or dog. At this time, rabbits began to be kept more commonly as pets in areas outside of Europe and the USA as well; in particular, rabbits are extremely popular pets in Australia (even though they are banned in some states) and Asian countries like Japan and Singapore. This chapter looks at the issues facing rabbits as pets outside of the USA, and makes some predictions for the future of rabbits as companion animals.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • American Veterinarian Medical Association. (2007). 2007 U.S. pet ownership and demographics sourcebook. Schaumburg, IN: Center for Information Management of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carneiro, M., Rubin, C. J., Di Palma, F., Albert, F. W., Alföldi, J., Barrio, A. M., et al. (2014). Rabbit genome analysis reveals a polygenic basis for phenotypic change during domestication. Science, 345(6200), 1074–1079.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clutton-Brock, J. (1987). A natural history of domesticated mammals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cook, A. J., & McCobb, E. (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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crook, S. (1985). Lop rabbits as pets. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, S., & DeMello, M. (2003). Stories rabbits tell: A natural and cultural history of a misunderstood creature. New York: Lantern Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edbom, M. (2011). Kaninhållning för sällskapsbruk (Rabbit group behavior). First cycle, G2E. Skara: SLU, Department of Animal Environment and Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edgar, J. L., & Mullan, S. M. (2011). Knowledge and attitudes of 52 UK pet rabbit owners at the point of sale. Veterinary Record-English Edition, 168(13), 353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ezpeleta, A. (1996). Rabbits everywhere. New York: Harry N. Abrams Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flux, J. E. C. (1990a). The hares and jackrabbits. In J. A. Chapman & J. E. C. Flux (Eds.), Rabbits, hares, and pikas. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flux, J. E. C. (1990b). Exotic populations. In J. A. Chapman & J. E. C. Flux (Eds.), Rabbits, hares, and pikas. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fox, R. (1994). Taxonomy and genetics. In P. J. Manning, D. H. Ringler, & C. E. Newcomer (Eds.), The biology of the laboratory rabbit. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grier, K. (1999). Childhood socialization and companion animals: United States 1820–1870. Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, 7(2), 95–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harriman, M. (1985 [1995]). House rabbit handbook: How to live with an urban rabbit. Alameda, CA: Drollery Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hinds, L. A., Cooke, B. D., Robinson, T. J., & Williams, C. K. (1996). Rabbits-prospects for long term control: mortality and fertility control. Prime Minister’s Science and Engineering Council, 13.

    Google Scholar 

  • Howell, T. J., Mornement, K., & Bennett, P. C. (2015). Companion rabbit and companion bird management practices among a representative sample of guardians in Victoria, Australia. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 18(3), 287–302.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ledger, R. A. (2010). The relinquishment of rabbits to rescue shelters in Canada. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(1), 36–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leyvraz, A. M., McBride, A., & Bishop, F. L. (2009). Management and behaviour of pet rabbits in Switzerland. In Proceedings of the 14th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology & 5th Annual Meeting of the European College of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine-Companion Animals, European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology, 42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Milford, H. S. (Ed.) (1975). The poetical works of William Cowper. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mullan, S. M., & Main, D. C. (2006). Survey of the husbandry, health and welfare of 102 pet rabbits. The veterinary record, 159(4), 103–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mullan, S. M., & Main, D. C. (2007). Behaviour and personality of pet rabbits and their interactions with their owners. The veterinary record, 160(15), 516–520.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Podberscek, A. L., Paul, E. S., & Serpell, J. A. (2005). Companion animals and us: Exploring the relationships between people and pets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rabbit Welfare Association. (n.d.). A hutch is not enough. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/ahutchisnotenough.htm

  • Rogers, P. M. (1994). The rabbit in continental Europe. In H. Thompson (Ed.), The European rabbit: The history and biology of a successful colonizer. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rooney, N. J., Blackwell, E. J., Mullan, S. M., Saunders, R., Baker, P. E., Hill, J. M., et al. (2014). The current state of welfare, housing and husbandry of the English pet rabbit population. BMC Research Notes, 7, 942.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • RSPCA. (2015, February 3). Is your rabbit a happy bunny? RSPCA News.

    Google Scholar 

  • Salman, M. D., New Jr., J. G., Scarlett, J. M., Kris, P. H., Ruch-Gaille, R., & Hetts, S. (1998). Human and animal factors related to the relinquishment of dogs and cats in 12 selected animal shelters in the United States. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1(3), 207–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schepers, F., Koene, P., & Beerda, B. (2009). Welfare assessment in pet rabbits. Animal Welfare, 18(4), 477–485.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, J. (1986). Beatrix Potter: Artist, storyteller, and countrywoman. London: Frederick Warne.

    Google Scholar 

  • The American Pet Products Association. (2010). 2009–2010 pet owners survey. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from http://media.americanpetproducts.org/press.php?include=140291

  • Ulfsdotter, L. (2013). Rehoming of pet rabbits in Sweden. Master Thesis presented to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • Veldkamp, E. (2009). The emergence of “pets as family” and the socio-historical development of pet funerals in Japan. Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 22(4), 333–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Welch, T. (2015). Motivations for and thoughts toward rabbit ownership and factors contributing to companion-rabbit ownersknowledge. Master Thesis presented to The University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2016 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

DeMello, M. (2016). Rabbits Multiplying Like Rabbits: The Rise in the Worldwide Popularity of Rabbits as Pets. In: Pręgowski, M. (eds) Companion Animals in Everyday Life. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59572-0_7

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59572-0_7

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-137-59571-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-59572-0

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics