Across the country, the charity is facing an ‘overwhelming’ influx of rabbits and a 40 per cent reduction in people coming forward to offer them new homes.
In 2020, 672 rabbits came into the RSPCA’s care, and during 2021, 859 were taken in by the RSPCA - an increase of 28 per cent.
Already this year the RSPCA has taken in 285 rabbits.
In South Yorkshire, incidents involving domestic rabbits has risen from 77 to 113 – that’s a 47 per cent increase.
In 2020, despite the country being in lockdown, there were 4,508 incidents relating to rabbits reported to the charity; this rose to 4,741 in 2021.
The number of rabbits abandoned also increased during this time with 1,242 reported as abandoned in 2020 and 1,559 abandoned in 2021.
Almost 1,000 more rabbits were classed by the charity as ‘neglected’ in 2021 - 5,451, compared with 4,544 in 2020.
Sadly, this is also coupled with a decrease in the number of people wanting to rehome rabbits. In 2018, 2,772 were rehomed, in 2019, it was 2,569, and in 2020, 2,080 found new homes.
RSPCA rabbit welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson said: “This Easter it’s really important for us to highlight that rabbits are one of the most neglected pets in Britain.
“We really need to end the misconception that they are ideal ‘starter’ pets and are somehow ‘easier’ than cats and dogs.
“They need so much more than just a hutch at the end of the garden and are very complex animals with needs for company, stimulation and exercise.
“They also have long life spans of around eight-12 years so are a big commitment for a family.
“When rabbits are bought on impulse - maybe as an Easter gift - an owner may not realise how complex they are to care for and what a commitment caring for rabbits can be.
“For anyone who has done their research and is certain they can provide the time, space, money and care it takes to look after a pair of rabbits then please consider adopting two of the many rescue rabbits in need of a home instead of buying them.”