An animal rescuer has warned that rabbits are not just for Easter, as he gears up for an influx of abandoned bunnies after the holiday.
Jon Beresford, who runs Brinsley Animal Rescue Centre, wants to make sure people think twice before they seal the deal on a new furry friend.
He warns that rabbits are a lot of work, long after the Easter holiday, and people need to realize it’s a big commitment.
Jon added: “It’s relentless, but after Easter we see a spike in rabbits being abandoned.
“People go to garden centres and buy rabbits as a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“Quite a lot of rabbits are mis-sold, such as ‘mini-lops’.
“Mini-lops just refers to a rabbit with smaller ears, but buyers think they’re getting a miniature rabbit.
“We get so many calls from people who have bought a mini-lop and are shocked at how big they grow.
Jon adds that he also receives calls from people who have bought two males, who start fighting when they mature.
“People buy rabbits without knowing their sex, and if you have two uncastrated males, they will fight when they become sexually mature.
“If you have a male and female, the female can become pregnant the day they give birth, so you can end up with a lot more than you bargained for.
“They are very social animals, but many get lonely and forgotten at the bottom of the garden.
“People don’t realise how high maintenance they are as pets – they need annual vaccinations, and their nails clipping every few weeks.”
READ MORE: Urgent appeal leads to injured elderly Mansfield woman being identified by family
During one week in March, the centre received calls to take in 26 abandoned rabbits , but could only accommodate 10.
Jon added: “Of these ten rabbits, only three were neutered and none vaccinated and several have come in with untreated health issues.
“Neutering, vaccinating against Myxomatosis, VHD1 and VHD2 and regular health checks should be part of responsible pet ownership.
“Sadly, this isn’t offered or advised when people buy a rabbit for £30 from a garden centre or pet shop.
“This will now cost the charity £850 and take around six weeks per rabbit before they can go up for adoption.
Brinsley Animal Rescue currently has 20 abandoned rabbits, and cannot accept anymore due to the spread of VHD2.
Unfortunately, six rabbits in the rescue have died as a result of the disease.
Jon says he is saddened to see how neglected rabbits are.
He added: “I would say they are the most neglected pet.
“They come to us un-neutered and un-vaccinated, the kids get bored of them and they are left in a cage on their own.
“It’s really sad.
“They just get forgotten about.”
Last year almost 4,000 rabbits were taken into the care of the RSPCA.
The charity estimates the annual cost of keeping a single rabbit to be £1,047.
As an average rabbit’s lifespan is 8 – 12 years, this means the cost of owning a rabbit could be more than £12,000 over their lifetime.
Before you get a rabbit, Jon has the following advice:
Do your research - look into the initial and annual costs of keeping your rabbits.
Neuter - Have your rabbit neutered as soon as your vet recommends and they will be happier, healthier, easier to litter-train and able to live with a companion without fighting or causing a population explosion.
Vaccinate - All pet rabbits in Britain, including house rabbits, need to be vaccinated against viral haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis.
Adopt, don’t shop - About 35,000 rabbits end up in UK rescue centres every year. Baby bunnies are adorable, but if you rehome an older rabbit, they may already be house trained, neutered and vaccinated.
Keep in pairs - Keeping a solitary rabbit deprives it of one of its basic needs: the company of its own kind.