THE Scottish SPCA has advised people not to buy pet rabbits as Easter gifts, fearing a surge in abandonments.
The charity is warning that a rabbit is for life, not just for Easter and will not be rehoming any rabbits from any of their animal rescue and rehoming centres over the Easter weekend.
Last year, 314 rabbits were rehomed throughout Scotland.
They are often bought as pets for children who can get bored of them easily, with the novelty of having a pet wearing off.
Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre Superintendent Sharon Comrie said: “There are lots of loving rabbit owners who treat their pets like one of the family and give them all the care and attention they need but sadly this isn’t true in all cases.
“The biggest issue is rabbits being put in a hutch and left at the bottom of the garden, with many enduring a life of solitude and boredom.
“We have come across many cases where rabbits have been left with horrifically overgrown teeth and nails. Rabbits need hay to gnaw on to keep their teeth in good condition, as well as regular nail trimming.
“They also need plenty of toys and tunnels to keep them occupied and ideally, rabbits should be bonded with a companion but where this isn’t possible they’ll need enough human contact to keep them stimulated.
“Rabbits are highly intelligent and sociable animals who can make fantastic family pets, though we strongly advise parents that they and not their children need to take responsibility for their welfare.”
The advice from the charity is that people should not buy rabbits on impulse and instead make an informed decision by learning about rabbit care first.
They are also offering sponsored spaces, where people can give the gift of caring for a number of rabbits in Scottish SPCA care by helping to cover the costs of food and vet treatment.
While the charity are hoping to avoid spontaneous rehoming by preventing anyone rehoming a rabbit from Good Friday to Easter Monday, they do encourage people who are serious about getting a rabbit as a pet to consider rehoming one of the animals in their care.
One animal currently looking for a home is Daisy, our pet of the week.
You can find out more about rehoming and sponsoring a space at www.scottishspca.org
Anyone concerned about the welfare of an animal should contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.