Bunny Business
Aaron Lee
Prince of Wales Secondary
Floor Location : M 175 D

Bunny Business is a study and assessment on how human activity, specifically feeding, affects feral rabbit health. It looked at two groups of rabbits living at the Jericho Sailing Center and compared their health condition and well-being. The western group was subject to less human traffic and hence, less interactions with people than the eastern group which experienced high human traffic year round. I assessed the health of the rabbits by observing their behaviour and looking for signs that may indicate potential illness. Such signs were lethargy, clumsiness, loss of instincts, ragged fur, clogged respiratory system and very little aggression. I then analyzed rabbit health by designing a scoring system. Despite some limitations, this system allowed me to capture a snapshot of a rabbits health with the resources presented to me. The studies occurred over 22 field trips over the months of October to January.

I spent 3 months with the rabbits. Initially, I expected the all rabbits to show evident signs of health deterioration due to human activity. However, I found that the western group of rabbits who experienced little to no human interaction were significantly healthier than the eastern rabbits and seemed as if they had hardly interacted with humans at all. Based on my health scoring system, I observed a 19.1% decrease in alertness, a 19% activity level decrease, a 23.3% comfort level increase, an 18.4% fur condition deterioration, 35% decrease in aggression and 10% deterioration in breathing. This sums up to a 15.6% decrease in health for the eastern colony when compared to the western colony. This shows that it is not only feeding that detriments rabbit health but human interactions in general as we see decreases in alertness and activity.

This study could shed light on future rabbit studies and as the management of feral rabbits is an emerging issue around the world. This study could provide knowledge on how rabbits survive in an urban setting so we can effectively and humanely manage them.