RSPCA plea after spike in abandoned small pets

The RSPCA is seeing an influx of rabbits and other small pets coming into the charity’s care as their owners can no longer look after them.

Betty and Hettie
Betty and Hettie

Between January to March, the charity received reports about 150 abandoned rabbits, 78 dumped guinea pigs and 51 abandoned hamsters.

A further 2,528 abandoned rabbits and other small pets were also reported to the RSPCA’s cruelty line since the lockdown began in March 2020.

With a huge surge in interest for pet ownership during the lockdown, the charity is concerned some may be buying pets on impulse.

Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA rabbit and rodent expert, said: “This spring and beyond we are urging people not to buy a rabbit, or any pet, on an impulse as sadly many people may not realise what is involved in caring for them.

"Small doesn’t necessarily mean easy and we’re already beginning to see the impact of the lockdown with owners struggling to care for their small pets.

“We’d always ask prospective owners to please do their research and make sure they have the time, money and resources to be able to care for that animal for the rest of their lives.”

The RSPCA Walsall branch in the West Midlands has also seen a similar picture, particularly with rabbits coming into their care.

Two young sisters Betty and Hettie came into the branch’s care last week as their owners could no longer cope.

Sad

They are so underweight one of the female buns can barely hold her own weight.

Jane added: “It’s so sad that many of our centres and branches are seeing small pets being abandoned or given up.

"There are also concerns that as vets have understandably prioritised emergencies during the pandemic that some rabbits have not been neutered.

“Rabbits are a social species and most prefer to live with another friendly rabbit; neutering is crucial so that this can happen.

"When rabbits reach maturity, same-sex pairs can become aggressive and fall out with their siblings or bunny buddies and have therefore been given up by their owners, whilst a male-female pairing can quickly lead to pregnancy and lots more bunnies if they are not neutered.

"We know that there has been a real increase in the number of people getting pets during the lockdown and it’s lovely to see so many people offering fantastic homes to rescue pets but sadly we are concerned that pets could be bought without owners thinking about if they can care for them in the long-term.”

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