The charity has seen a 48 per cent rise in number of rabbits taken in.
To coincide with Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW), the RSPCA is urging owners to neuter their rabbits. The charity has seen a big increase in unwanted rabbits, with a 48 per cent rise in the number taken in last year.
In 2022, 1,090 rabbits arrived at animal centres and 1,942 were rescued by RSPCA branches.
So far in 2023, 307 rabbits were brought to the charity’s centres and 308 arrived at branches. This is a reduction compared with the same period last year, but many of the charity’s centres are now full and unable to accommodate any further rabbits.
The charity has also had to cope with cases of neglect that have highlighted the disregard that some people have for the welfare of rabbits.
In one case the RSPCA found over 160 rabbits being kept in overcrowded conditions in a property’s garage. Initially the owners had a handful of rabbits but quickly saw numbers soar after they failed to neuter and sex their animals quickly enough.
RSPCA inspector Richard Durant said: “This was a good example of the problems that can be encountered by owners who fail to neuter their rabbits and then end up becoming totally overwhelmed.
“The owners said they tried separating them, but they weren’t quick enough and the rabbits bred again and again and the sad situation got out of hand. It was astonishing and although most of the rabbits were in a healthy condition, the environment they were living in clearly wasn’t suitable for their needs.”
RAW 2023 is taking place between 26-30 June and the theme is neutering: protect and prevent. According to a PDSA report in 2021, 37 per cent of the 900,000 rabbits in the UK were not neutered.
RSPCA rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson said: “There's a reason behind the well known saying of 'breeding like rabbits'. Rabbits can reproduce at a very young age, they are pregnant for just one month and they have large litters. Numbers can therefore rapidly escalate.
“Many people also don’t realise that rabbits can get pregnant again within just a couple of hours of giving birth. All this means that an unsuspecting owner can quickly find themselves becoming overwhelmed with animals.
“This is why the theme of Rabbit Awareness Week 2023 is so important, especially at a time when rescue centres are inundated with calls for help from rabbit owners. We'd urge anyone who hasn't yet had their rabbit neutered to speak to their vet about getting them booked in for this very important, and routine, procedure."