A BARNSLEY animal charity has urged the public to provide adequate space for pet rabbits after it was revealed that almost a quarter of rabbits live in unsuitable hutches across the country.

The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) released the statistics as part of Rabbit Awareness Week which takes place from August ten to 23.

The RWAF found that there is no legal housing size for pet rabbits. This means that many of the hutches sold by online retailers and UK pet shops only have to meet the legal housing size requirements for rabbits that are kept in a laboratory or sold for meat.

The RWAF also found that 31 per cent of hutches sold meet the legal requirements for housing laboratory rabbits.

Angie Bell, chairperson of Barnsley Animal Rescue Centre (BARC), said: “If a rabbit doesn’t have room to exercise it can’t exhibit it’s natural behaviour like digging and running.

“When a rabbit is put in a small hutch, it often becomes depressed and can become aggressive to the owner. It’s not healthy for the rabbit to be in an environment that is too small - it’s the equivalent of a human living in a toilet cubicle.

“We would recommend a large hutch and space for the rabbit to run outdoors to help it to learn the natural instincts and to keep it a friendly family pet.”

The RAWF recommends that a rabbit live in an area that is 3m x 2m and is at least 1m high.