A rabbit sanctuary in Cambridgeshire is calling on owners to do their research before buying an Easter bunny, as many end up abandoned within a year.
Every year 67,000 rabbits go through rescue, including 42,000 within one year of purchase, according to The Rabbit Residence Rescue, which is on the Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire border.
The charity houses around 100 rabbits on its third of an acre site.
Manager Lea Facey said: “Each year Rabbit Residence rescues, rehabilitates and successfully rehomes over 100 rabbits, many of whom are surrendered because their owners did little research into what a rabbit needs in order to be cared for correctly.
“Rabbits suffer for their looks as a young rabbit resembles a cuddly toy, but as with most toys children often lose interest quickly, meaning many rabbits endure a miserable life alone in a hutch, in a garden or are sadly abandoned.
“A rabbit is not a toy - cared for correctly they are a 10 to 12 year commitment and not a low maintenance starter pet suitable for children. We urge people to learn what is needed to take care of a rabbit correctly by researching their needs prior to purchase, then if a rabbit is right for your family considering adoption first.”
Caring for a pair of rabbits over their lifetime can cost £10,000.
Lea added: “Sadly, some rabbits will spend their entire lives in rescue waiting to be picked due to not having the more desirable physical appearance.
“We would urge people to adopt rather than shopping for their rabbits.
“If you adopt from a reputable rescue the rabbits will be neutered, health checked and vaccinated. This costs over £150 yet most rescues adoption fees are around £50 which is a large saving for owners.
“Rescues will also find your rabbit their perfect bunny partner and assist with the often stressful bonding process as well as offering lifetime back up and support. Rescues also help match families with rabbits that are compatible with their current lifestyle.”
The rescue has a sponsor a bunny scheme. People can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Anyone considering getting a rabbit as a pet should research how to care for them properly. One source of information is https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/.