THE number of rabbits being abandoned by their owners has increased throughout the cold winter months.
People are believed to be dumping the outdoor pets as the cold, wet evenings make them harder to look after than in summer.
Margaret Layland, RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire branch’s small animals rehoming co-ordinator, said that many of the bunnies they were looking after are less than 12 months old.
It has been a busy winter for the charity with 30 rabbits, 10 guinea pigs, two male rats and a budgie looking for new homes.
“As soon as the weather turns, the number of rabbits and guinea pigs coming in rises.
“People don’t seem to appreciate that as lovely as it is to pop outside and sit with rabbits in summertime, in winter it is not so nice to go outside and clean their hutches out.
“That’s why I say a rabbit is for life, not just for nice weather.”
The branch, which is self-financing, is building a new re-housing centre in Kempsey but currently has to rely on volunteers to act as foster carers for the unwanted pets until they find a new home.
In four years of volunteering, Mrs Layland has only been aware of two instances when people have responded to poster campaigns to try to reunite missing rabbits with their owners.
“I don’t think people see it as the same as dumping cats or dogs and probably assume they are liberating them to live in the wild with their country cousins, “Wild rabbits, though, need to make burrows, get their own food and go somewhere safe to keep away from foxes.”
In 2012, the independent charity had also seen an increase in the number of people giving up their pets in Worcester.
“It’s definitely been worse with people having to give up their animals.
“In some cases it has been because people didn’t realise how much trouble they would be to take care of.
“But we have also heard some very sad stories with people who have lost jobs and can’t afford them to others who have to move house but their landlord doesn’t allow them to keep pets.”
Information about animals up for adoption, donating and volunteering is available by logging on to rspca-worcester.co.uk.
Anyone wanting more information should call Mrs Layland on 01905 421849.