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Rabbits looking for forever homes after surge in numbers at RSPCA centres

Credit: RSPCA Cymru
The RSPCA is marking International Rabbit Day 2023 with a plea for prospective owners to give new homes for hundreds of unwanted bunnies.
The animal charity’s centres are packed with abandoned and unwanted pets given up by their owners, with both the cost-of-living crisis and owners becoming overwhelmed by pet overbreeding thought to be contributing to the problem.
RSPCA branches, along with the charity’s national animal and wildlife centres are under pressure because rehoming rates have fallen in recent years, which has left them with many more rabbits waiting to start new lives. The numbers of rabbits rehomed by branches dropped by 23% between 2019 and 2022 and there has been a 42% fall in rehoming from the RSPCA’s national animal centres during a similar period. 
Meanwhile, last year there was a huge 48% rise in the numbers of rabbits taken in by the charity, with 1,090 rabbits arriving at animal centres and 1,942 rescued by RSPCA branches.
Many RSPCA centres are now full to capacity and cannot accommodate any more rabbits. Up to the end of July, 553 rabbits were brought into RSPCA national animal centres and 153 wild rabbits arrived at the charity’s four wildlife centres.
International Rabbit Day, which takes place on Saturday (September 23), highlights the importance of making rabbits’ lives more comfortable by looking after their welfare needs and creating suitable environments to live in. 
It is important that owners provide housing that meets their pets’ behavioural needs with enough space for shelter and to run around and exercise, while rabbits should enjoy playing with a variety of enrichment toys.
The selling of missexed pairs has contributed to the problem of overbreeding and the RSPCA has advice for owners about how to head off numbers multiplying in hutches.
Dr Jane Tyson, the RSPCA’s rabbit welfare expert, said: “Rabbits can reproduce at a very young age and many people don’t realise rabbits can get pregnant again within just a couple of hours of giving birth. Unsuspecting owners can quickly find themselves becoming overwhelmed with animals.
“That is why it is important to correctly sex rabbits and get them neutered at an appropriate age. We’d urge anyone unsure of the sex of their rabbits to talk to their vet for advice and also discuss neutering with them too. 
“Our centres are full with unwanted rabbits as we have had a significant increase in our intake over the last year or two. For anyone who’s thinking about bringing rabbits into their lives, or are looking for a friend for their own rabbit, we’d encourage them to get in touch with their local RSPCA rescue centre and see if they can offer a loving home to some of our rabbits.”
The cost of living crisis is one of the single biggest challenges facing animal welfare. Unfortunately, the RSPCA is seeing the impact on the frontline – with reports of abandoned animals soaring as owners resort to desperate measures. The charity’s Animal Kindness Index found that a growing number of people are finding keeping pets more expensive, and are worried about the costs of feeding their animals – with 81% of pet owners saying it is more expensive to look after their pets.
In response, the RSPCA is working hard to keep pets in loving homes, and support owners. The charity has committed £1.5million of extra funding to crisis measures; launched a new Cost of Living Hub, a dedicated telephone helpline, and its pet food bank partnerships continue to go from strength to strength.
You can find more about how to look after rabbits on the RSPCA’s website.