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Rabbit rehoming crisis

Rabbit family

Authored on: 14 March 2023

All across the country, animal charities are dealing with a rabbit rehoming crisis. The number of abandoned and unwanted rabbits has increased drastically, while the number of adoptions has decreased.

In 2021, we rehomed 121 rabbits, but in 2022 that number fell to just 53 - a decrease of 56%.

Space at our centre is limited, with housing for just 15 rabbits. Our waiting list for rabbits is always very long but we can't take in a new rabbit until we have rehomed one. We have a team of dedicated rabbit fosterers who look after our rabbits in their homes, which increases the number of rabbits our charity can accommodate at any one time, but this still isn't enough to help all the rabbits that need us.

Why are so many rabbits being given up?

The cost of living crisis is a big factor as people simply cannot afford the costs associated with rabbits. Research by the national RSPCA has estimated that the average cost of keeping a pair of rabbits is over £1,500 per year, NOT including veterinary costs for illness, injury, or disease. We have also seen an increase in the number of pregnant rabbits and unplanned litters being given up, as less people can afford to have their male/female pairs neutered.

Earlier this year we took in a pair of unneutered rabbits who had been abandoned with their 4 one-month-old babies. We immediately separated mum and dad, Feyre and Rhysand, and were hoping that Feyre would not already be pregnant again as rabbits can become pregnant just 24 hours after giving birth. A few weeks later, Feyre gave birth to 7 babies, more than doubling the number of rabbits we had originally taken in.

What can be done?

If you are thinking about adding a rabbit to your family, do your research. Rabbits can live for 10-12 years and need a lot of care and attention, so they are a big commitment.

Rabbits need companions of their own kind - they shouldn't be kept alone. A pair of average sized rabbits need a minimum area of 3m x 2m x 1m high (10ft x 6.5ft x 3.5ft), comprising a sheltered living area with a permanently attached run. Most pre-built hutches are not big enough for rabbits to live healthy and happy lives, and larger or custom-made accommodation can be expensive.

Consider adopting from a rescue rather than buying from a pet shop or breeder - when you adopt a rabbit, another one can take its place in the rescue. Reputable rescues will have certain veterinary treatments and checks done before adoption, which can cost a lot more than the adoption fee if you pay yourself at your own vet. All our rabbits are neutered before adoption if they are old enough, or adopted with a voucher for neutering if they are younger. Our rabbits also have a full health check by our vet, are vaccinated for R(V)HD, R(V)HD2 and Myxo, so they are protected for the first year, and are microchipped. Every rabbit adopted from us also comes home with 4 weeks free pet insurance.

Ensure your rabbits are neutered as soon as they are old enough. If you adopt a young male/female pair, they will need to be separated from 12 weeks of age until a month after they are neutered, as male rabbits can remain fertile for up to 4 weeks after neutering.

Get insurance. While daily care costs can be manageable, an unexpected vet bill for illness, injury or disease can be very expensive. There are several different types of insurance, with life-time cover being the most comprehensive - any new illness, injury or disease will be covered by the insurance for the life of the rabbit.

If you're looking to adopt, you can view all our available rabbits here.