Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the United Kingdom, after cats and dogs. There are an estimated 1.2 million pet rabbits in the UK according to the 2015 PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report.
Rabbits were kept for their meat and fur by the Romans and it was at this time that wild rabbits were introduced to Britain.
Selective breeding since about the 12th century helped to form the different breeds which we know today, with different fur types and different sizes developing. Initially, breeds would have been separated into ‘Fur’ breeds and ‘Meat’ breeds but by the Victorian era, some breeds were starting to be bred specifically for exhibition – this is how the Lop breeds came into being. As the rabbit fancy became more popular, more and more people started to keep rabbits as pets. There are now over 50 different rabbit breeds recognised by the British Rabbit Council, although most of the rabbits sold in pet shops will be crossbreeds.
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