Lockdown sadness for the UK’s pet rabbits

Rabbit Residence Rescue, based near Royston, Hertfordshire, is urging anyone thinking of rabbit ownership, to adopt, don’t shop!

The pandemic has hit all animal rescues very hard, and now the rabbit rescue community is seeing a huge number of rabbits signed over. Rabbit Residence now has 100 rabbits on their waiting list waiting for a space to come in, with 68 rabbits looking for their new homes.

Lea Facey, Manager of Rabbit Residence says: “It’s exhausting to open emails or answer the phone every day for yet another rabbit, or even whole litters of babies, needing rescue space. It breaks our heart that we’re going to have to start saying no, we’re full. Other rescues in the area are facing the same problem, and it worries us greatly, where will all these animals end up?”

“Rabbits can need new homes for all sorts of reasons, but it frustrates us when it’s merely a lack of research into proper care of rabbits that has led to them needing a new home. They aren’t simple children’s pets, they are all very individual and strong willed little animals. They can be fragile and get sick very quickly, which can run up very large vets bills. They can’t be kept in tiny little hutches or cages, they need a lot of space to run around, as much as space as you would offer a cat or small dog, but secure and safe of course.”

Handsome boys, Toto and Parker, were two of an unwanted litter of babies that arrived with the rescue. Their owners hadn’t realised that rabbits who are related to each other could breed. Rabbits can breed from as young as four months old. Toto and Parker are now neutered, so no accidental babies from them, and are looking for single (spayed) female rabbits to be bonded to. The rescue will carry out the tricky bonding process on site, under the watchful eye of experienced staff.

Lea adds: “Unwanted and accidental litters are sadly extremely common. Rabbits will indeed “breed like rabbits” given the chance. It can cost the rescue over £1,000 to prepare a litter of babies for rehoming, that includes neutering, vaccinating and veterinary health checks. We have had 12 rabbits born at the rescue after their pregnant mothers were signed over to us in just 2021, and we’re only half way through the year.”

The rescue offers plenty of advice on the proper care of rabbits and recommendations on where to buy things like food and housing on their website, http://www.rabbitresidence.org.uk.

If you are interested in adopting a rabbit, do email the rescue on rabbit_residence@hotmail.com