The RSPCA has seen a 49% increase in rabbits coming into its care during the first five months of this year – and the charity is now building more accommodation at centres to help keep up with demand.
RSPCA Felledge in Chester le Street, County Durham, is taking in rabbits for the first time having previously looked after horses.
Staff at the centre are building five new runs to take in five bonded pairs of rabbits, further enrichment and soil filled pots to allow for digging will be added to the new accommodation.
RSPCA Felledge equine manager Lisa Paulin said: “We are more used to horses and stables than rabbits and runs but we are fortunate to have a lot of space here so we knew we had to adapt our facilities to help in any way we can to help with the huge influx of animals in our care.
“We followed RSPCA guidelines on housing and all the runs are 3m x 2m x 1m and will have lots of lovely things for the rabbits to do to make sure they are happy while they are with us before they find their forever homes.”
RSPCA Kent Isle of Thanet branch, extended their accommodation 18 months ago to include six bespoke beach hut themed sheds and large runs and are already looking into whether they can increase the number to include more rabbits. At the moment they can take in 12 bonded pairs.
Branch manager Emily Mayer said: “We are full and have more rabbits waiting to come in, we are seeing if we can extend our accommodation to fulfil the growing need we are seeing for rabbits.
“We have cats and dogs on our site too but most of the calls we are receiving from the inspectorate as well as from members of the public are about rabbits
“Circumstances are changing for people financially and owners don’t realise how long a commitment taking on a rabbit is as well as how expensive they can be. If you are struggling please do reach out for help but please also encourage others to really think about whether they can manage first before taking on a pet.”
Two bunnies – Happy and Grumpy (pictured right) – are looking for homes at the Isle of Thanet. They are a lovely pair who love their food, like fuss and love to do their own thing, whether that be chilling in the sun or hopping about in the grass. They’ll need a home with plenty of space, enrichment, and love.
RSPCA rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson added: “It’s more important than ever on this Rabbit Awareness Week that we spread the message to people to do their research before taking on a pet.
“Rabbits can live for a long time and can be costly, they need much more than just a hutch at the end of the garden – they need space, companionship and enrichment to live happy and healthy lives. If you do feel able to commit to a pet or feel you could take a rabbit in for fostering please contact your local RSPCA centre to help.”
The RSPCA does not believe typical rabbit hutches provide the amount of space rabbits need – to help meet their welfare requirements you could consider converting a wendy house or shed.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.