A sharp rise in the number of abandoned rabbits has prompted the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund to reinforce the message that they are not the cheap and easy children’s pet they are often mistaken as being.

A sharp rise in the number of abandoned rabbits has prompted the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) to reinforce the message that they are not the cheap and easy children’s pet they are often mistaken as being.

abandoned rabbitsThe number of abandoned rabbits has almost doubled over the past decade according to new figures released by the organisation. A RWAF survey shows the number of rabbits taken to rescue shelters in 2010 at well over 67,000 – up from 35,000 in the charity’s previous survey in 1999.

RWAF veterinary expert advisor Richard Saunders said: “What is really worrying is that this number only reflects the cases where the rabbits have made it into rescue. We can’t possibly quantify how many more are dumped in the wild and left to fend for themselves, which leads to almost certain death.

“Then there are those who, when the novelty has worn off, are simply neglected and left often in a hutch with no access to exercise space and almost no attention except for a handful of food now and again.”

The sale of rabbits for next to nothing through classified adverts in newspapers and livestock auctions is also a concern for the charity, which claims many of these animals are bought for meat.

Richard SaundersIn the survey, almost all the rescues said that the problem is getting worse, with more and more people wanting to re-home their pet rabbits. Many said they are only able to take in around 10% of the requests they receive, with most having waiting lists of 2-6 months.

Unfortunately a lot of owners will not wait that long, and take their own steps to dispose of the animal.

With this in mind, the RWAF wants people should think long and hard, and do their research before taking on a rabbit – and even longer and harder before they decide to breed ‘just one litter’ from their pets, all of which will then need to find homes.

  • For more information on caring for rabbits, visit the RWAF website.
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