RSPCA concerns over rabbits abandonment as new figures released
- Credit: Ian Burt
An animal charity has raised concerns over the "novelty" of owning rabbits wearing off after lockdown, resulting in an increase in abandonments.
Figures from the RSPCA show Norfolk was in the top 10 list of counties for abandoned rabbits in England last year.
A total of 42 rabbits were abandoned in the county in total during 2020 according to RSPCA data, putting Norfolk 10th in the table. South Yorkshire came out with the highest number of 80.
With it being Rabbit Awareness Week, the RSPCA is urging anyone who may have bought a rabbit on impulse during lockdown to reach out for help if they are struggling.
Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA rabbit welfare expert, said: "Unfortunately, we do see many rabbits abandoned and rescued by our officers.
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"We suspect that in many cases these rabbits have been bought on impulse as starter pets for children but owners quickly realise that they’re complex animals to care for and sadly they end up coming into our rescue centres."
In 2020, there were a total of 1,174 abandoned rabbits reported to the RSPCA's cruelty line nationally with the charity taking in 2,653 altogether.
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Dr Tyson added: "We have seen a huge demand in pet ownership during the lockdown with Google searches for ‘Rabbits for sale’ rising from 23,000 in April 2019 to 40,000 in April 2020, and whilst it’s lovely that so many people have sought the companionship of a pet, we’re concerned that this boom will mean many people may not have done their research properly and could struggle to care for them once the lockdown ends, or the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll.
"This is something we’re already starting to see with many of our centres and branches reporting that they were overrun with rabbits back in April.”
The RSPCA has been working on developing a code of practice for rabbits for several years and the Good Practice Code for the Welfare of Rabbits in England is now launching today.
This code will provide practical guidance for the public on the best ways to care for their rabbits.