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Appeal launched to help rehome rabbits as numbers increase

Pictured: Dale

Following reports that the number of rabbits being taken in by the RSPCA are on the increase – the animal welfare charity is appealing for homes for some special bunnies.

In 2020 672 rabbits came into the RSPCA’s care, and during 2021 859 were taken in by the RSPCA – an increase of 28 per cent. By mid-February this year 88 rabbits have already been taken in by the charity across the country.

In 2020, despite the country being in lockdown, there were 4,508 incidents relating to rabbits reported to the charity; this rose to 4,741 in 2021.

The number of rabbits abandoned also increased during this time with 1,242 reported as abandoned in 2020 and 1,559 abandoned in 2021. Almost 1,000 more rabbits were classed by the charity as ‘neglected’ in 2021 – 5,451 – compared with 4,544 in 2020.

Sadly this is also coupled with a decrease in the number of people wanting to rehome rabbits. In 2018 2,772 were rehomed, 2019 2,569 and 2020 2,080 found new homes.

Pictured: Harry

At RSPCA Bryn-y-Maen Animal Centre, Edna – who has been at the Upper Colwyn Bay centre for a whole year – is looking for her forever home.

Animal centre supervisor Chris Butler said: “In just a few days time Edna will have been in our care for a whole year.

“Edna arrived in our care due to concerns for her welfare but has now grown into a sassy lady,” said Chris. “She could live indoors or outdoors as long as she has plenty of space and she would need a home with someone who has – or is looking to adopt a male bunny for her to bond with.

“We really do hope she finds her furever home soon.”

Pictured: Ferdinand

While at RSPCA Newport Animal Centre Harry, Alba, Ferdinand, Dale are still looking for homes. They all came into RSPCA care via the RSPCA inspectorate as their welfare needs were not being met.

These playful bunnies have settled in well at the centre and have been growing in confidence day by day.

Centre manager Nikki Tutton said: “We have some adorable bunnies with us at the moment, and we are hoping they’ll soon be heading to their forever homes.

“Please get in touch if you are interested in any of them, or get in touch via an online application form. We can’t wait to hear from you!”

Google searches for ‘Rabbits for sale’ rose from 23,000 in April 2019 to 40,000 in April 2020. There was also a 68% increase in visitors to the RSPCA’s Find a Pet website for rehoming rabbits (23 March-30 Aug 2019 compared to the same period in 2020) – so it may be these new owners are now coming out of lockdown and going back to normal life and have realised they cannot commit to their pets.

RSPCA rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson said: “Despite rabbits often being perceived as an ideal ‘starter pet’, they actually have very complex needs and are one of the most neglected pets in Britain.

“They also have long life spans of around 8-12 years so are a big commitment for a family.

“It means sadly the RSPCA deals with many calls about bunnies where they have been neglected or abandoned each year.

“When rabbits are bought on impulse, an owner may not realise how complex they are to care for and what a commitment caring for rabbits can be.

“Whilst they can be hugely rewarding pets full of personality, they also need lots of stimulation and – crucially – space to ensure their welfare needs are being met.

“For anyone who has done their research and is certain they can provide the time, space, money and care it takes to look after a pair of rabbits then please consider adopting one of the many rescue rabbits in need of a home instead of buying one.”