Too busy for bunnies: Scots abandon pet rabbits in their hundreds

© Michaela Rehle
Hundreds of rabbits in Scotland have been rescued by local authorities after bored and complacent owners abandoned the fluffy pets, a leading animal charity has revealed.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said it rescued nearly 800 rabbits during 2014, and has already taken 550 into its care centers this year.

The charity, which is holding a national rabbit awareness week, blamed boredom and lack of spare time on the increasing levels of abandonment. It added that the animals are both social and intelligent, and voiced concern that rabbits lived “miserable and lonely” lives.

Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said the busy lives of owners meant rabbits were all too often forgotten.

"One of the most common excuses we hear is that the children in the family, who asked for the rabbit in the first place, have become fed up now that the novelty of the new pet has worn off,” he said.

"Another reason is that the owner simply doesn't have the time to look after their rabbit. One of the biggest issues is rabbits being left in a hutch with no interaction other than a brief visit from their owner to bring food and water.

"These poor rabbits are literally suffering in silence, living a miserable and lonely life,” Flynn added.

Scottish activist groups Rabbits Require Rights (RRR) have called for more legal protection for the pets, saying that despite their popularity as the UK’s third most popular animal, they were still the most neglected.

The SSPCA says it hopes to re-home many of the rescued rabbits.

Their concerns follow comments from animal welfare scientist James Oxley who said last year that UK laws did not protect rabbit welfare properly.

Oxley said that in some EU countries, there are laws which dictate the size of the cage and state that the pets must be kept in pairs, but that the current British Animal Welfare Act does not include these specific terms.

He also suggested a review of the impacts existing law on rabbits.