Publication - Guidance

Pet rabbit welfare guidance

Published: 6 Apr 2018
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

This document provides detailed information about the needs of pet rabbits and how to meet these needs in accordance with good practice.

48 page PDF

2.1 MB

48 page PDF

2.1 MB

Pet rabbit welfare guidance
Appendix 3: References

48 page PDF

2.1 MB

Appendix 3: References

Indicators of suffering in section 7 derived from:

  • National Research Council (2009) Recognition & alleviation of pain in laboratory animals, National Research Council of the National Academies.
  • Carstens & Moberg (2000) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Journal, 41 62-71
  • Kohn et al. (2007) Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 46: 97-108
  • Maertens & Coudert eds. (2009) Recent advances in rabbit sciences, ILVO
  • Verga (2000) World Rabbit Science, 8: 491-506
  • Gunn & Morton (1995) Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 45: 277-292
  • Held et al. (1995) Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 46: 81-91
  • Hawkins et al. (2008) Refining rabbit care. RSPCA and UFAW

Potential signs of abdominal pain taken from:

  • Leach et al. (2009) Research in Veterinary Science, 87: 336-347
  • Farnworth et al. (2011) Animal Welfare, 20: 225-237

Rabbit Grimace Scale original paper:

  • Keating SCJ, Thomas AA, Flecknell PA, Leach MC (2012) Evaluation of EMLA cream for preventing pain during tattooing of rabbits: changes in physiological, behavioural and facial expression responses. PLoS ONE 7:e44437. Doi:10.137/journal.pone0044437

For guidance on how to use the Rabbit Grimace Scale, additional images of each action unit, research papers that underpin or validate this technique, please contact Dr Matt Leach (

Image Credits:

Cover Page: BSAVA

Introduction: RWAF

Section 1: Diane Bain

Section 3: RWAF

Section 4: RWAF (eating greens); Diane Bain (group)

Section 5: RWAF

Section 6: Diane Bain

Section 7: RWAF (vet); Pain and Animal Welfare Sciences ( PAWS) group at Newcastle University (pain-related postures and rearing rabbit).