THE RSPCA say that they fear there will be an increase in the number of abandoned rabbits coming into its care following a ‘huge increase’ in pet ownership throughout the pandemic.

Almost 50 per cent of rabbits coming into the charity’s care were were abandoned, and the RSPCA are worried that these figures may worsen as the ‘novelty’ of having a pet wears off.

As part of Rabbit Awareness Week, which runs from today until June 4, the charity is highlighting the complex needs that the animals need.

Last year, there were a total of 80 abandoned rabbits in South Yorkshire - the most of any county in England.

Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA rabbit welfare expert, said: “Unfortunately, we do see many rabbits abandoned and rescued by our officers.

“We suspect that in many cases these rabbits have been bought on impulse as ‘starter pets’ for children but owners quickly realise that they’re complex animals to care for and sadly they end up coming into our rescue centres.

“We have seen a huge demand in pet ownership during the lockdown with Google searches for ‘Rabbits for sale’ rising from 23,000 in April 2019 to 40,000 in April 2020.

“Whilst it’s lovely that so many people have sought the companionship of a pet, we’re concerned that this boom will mean many people may not have done their research properly and could struggle to care for them once the lockdown ends, or the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll.

“This is something we’re already starting to see with many of our centres and branches reporting that they were overrun with rabbits back in April.”