RSPCA overwhelmed by rabbits as owners struggle to afford pets in cost of living crisis

The number of rabbits being given up by their owners has soared. Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA says it is overwhelmed by the number of pets given up by their owners.

The animal charity has warned that it has been inundated by hundreds of rabbits as people struggle to care for their animals amid the cost of living crisis.

The RSPCA will mark International Rabbit Day on 23 September by pleading with prospective new owners to come forward.

The number of rabbits rehomed by branches fell 23% between 2019 and 2022 and there was a 42% decline in rehoming from RSPCA national animal centres over a similar period. 

Last year there was a huge 48% rise in the number of rabbits taken in by the charity, with 1,090 arriving at animal centres and 1,942 rescued by RSPCA branches.

The RSPCA is urging new owners to come forward. Credit: RSPCA

Many centres, including some in the South West, are now full to capacity and cannot accommodate any more rabbits.

The RSPCA’s rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson said: “Rabbits can reproduce at a very young age and many people don’t realise rabbits can get pregnant again within just a couple of hours of giving birth.

"Unsuspecting owners can quickly find themselves becoming overwhelmed with animals. That is why it is important to correctly sex rabbits and get them neutered at an appropriate age.

"We’d urge anyone unsure of the sex of their rabbits to talk to their vet for advice and also discuss neutering with them too. Our centres are full with unwanted rabbits as we have had a significant increase in our intake over the last year or two.

"For anyone who’s thinking about bringing rabbits into their lives, or are looking for a friend for their own rabbit, we’d encourage them to get in touch with their local RSPCA rescue centre and see if they can offer a loving home to some of our rabbits.”