1. ITV Report

Pet owners go hopping mad for "baby" faced rabbits

Most popular bunny Credit: University of Nottingham

Experts from the University of Nottingham have found that pet owners go hopping mad for rabbits with flatter, shorter, more “baby-like” faces.

Having launched the Rabbit Face Survey in July last year, researchers also found that people preferred bunnies to have generally short fur that appeared soft and medium-light in colour.

Number of rabbits kept as pets in the UK

The 20,000 replies from all over the world meant researchers could also compare people’s preferences by region, with people from Europe and Oceania preferring extremely flat-faced rabbits less than people from the rest of the world.

Most common pet in the UK

Animal welfare experts hope the results of the survey will be used to help guide potential owners about the risks associated with breeding rabbits with more extreme facial features.

Flatter-faced bunnies are at a higher risk of health issues such as painful dental problems.

The study...demonstrates, worryingly, a preference amongst most potential owners for rabbits with flatter faces than the ideal "wild type" rabbit. Unfortunately, whilst these rabbits look cute, they are at greater risk of potentially fatal dental and ear problems. Here at the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund we would recommend selecting a rabbit based on its health, and trying to choose rabbits with as near to wild type head shapes helps with that.

– Richard Saunders, a Vet Specialist Advisor

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