The RSPCA is preparing to help hundreds of rabbits this Christmas as they gear up for a busy winter.
The animal welfare charity – one of the oldest and largest in the world – is preparing for an influx of animals needing care this winter as staff and volunteers prepare for the busy Christmas period.
The RSPCA took in 5,429 animals last Christmas – 279 of which were rabbits and they received 55,821 calls last December (2017) from concerned members of the public and officers investigated 9,725 complaints – 232 regarding rabbits.
RSPCA rabbit welfare expert, Dr Jane Tyson, said: “Unfortunately rabbits can really suffer over the winter period as they may be forgotten about during the short, cold, dark and often wintry days.
“Rabbits living outdoors will need extra care and attention at this time of the year. They need large enclosures, so they can spend time playing and exploring, as well as a warm, dry shelter that contains plenty of bedding materials, so they can snuggle down when it’s cold. They also need the right diet and company from another rabbit.
“Even though it may be cold outside owners need to be spending time with their rabbits, making sure their enclosures are safe, clean and dry and they have continual access to good quality hay to eat and fresh water to drink (checking regularly that it isn’t frozen).”
Of all the 8,000 complaints received by the RSPCA last year, 232 were cruelty of neglect to rabbits, like Popcorn, who was taken to the RSPCA’s Millbrook Animal Centre in Surrey in December last year.
Popcorn had been rescued by an animal collection officer after being found living in bad conditions. Wendy and John Gibbs from Alton in Hampshire adopted Popcorn in March as a companion for their other rescue rabbit, Roberta, who’d been adopted a few months earlier.
Wendy said: “Popcorn was all on his own and looked so sad. All of the other rabbits had been partnered up, so he was the perfect choice – and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Popcorn is doing well.”
This Christmas, the charity is asking the public to support its Kindness at Christmas campaign. To donate, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/giftofkindness.