RSPCA in Greater Manchester ‘overwhelmed’ by rise in abandoned rabbits

The city-region has the second-highest number of ‘domestic rabbit incidents’ in England.

We’ve all heard the message: ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.’

But it appears the plea that ‘a bunny is not just for Easter’ isn’t hitting home, with the RSPCA saying it has been ‘overwhelmed’ with rabbits needing new homes across England.

Greater Manchester is the second worst area for ‘domesticated rabbit incidents’ in the last year, with a 16% rise year on year and 181 reports in 2021 that the RSPCA have been called to deal with.

Nationwide, the number of rabbits abandoned also increased between 2020-21, with 1,242 reported as abandoned in 2020 and 1,559 abandoned in 2021.

Almost 1,000 more rabbits were classed by the charity as ‘neglected’ in 2021 - 5,451 - compared with 4,544 in 2020.

‘They need more than a hutch’

The charity is pleading for people to recognise pet rabbits can live for over a decade and to think carefully before buying one.

RSPCA rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson said: “This Easter it’s really important for us to highlight that rabbits are one of the most neglected pets in Britain.

“We really need to end the misconception that they are ideal ‘starter’ pets and are somehow ‘easier’ than cats and dogs.

One of the rabbits seeking a new home Credit: RSPCA

“They need so much more than just a hutch at the end of the garden and are very complex animals with needs for company, stimulation and exercise.

“They also have long life spans of around 8-12 years so are a big commitment for a family.

“When rabbits are bought on impulse - maybe as an Easter gift - an owner may not realise how complex they are to care for and what a commitment caring for rabbits can be.

“For anyone who has done their research and is certain they can provide the time, space, money and care it takes to look after a pair of rabbits then please consider adopting two of the many rescue rabbits in need of a home instead of buying them.”