Baby pet rabbit survives for two nights in the Worcestershire countryside
Three pet rabbits are safe with the RSPCA after they were found in a field in Kempsey, with the youngest - around 16 weeks old - surviving for two nights out in the cold on her own.
The group of Lionhead rabbits were first spotted in a field off Old Road South, with initial reports suggesting that there could have been five of them.
Two of the animals were caught the next day by a concerned member of the public and taken to the nearby Holdings Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre - run by the RSPCA's Worcester and Mid Worcestershire branch - where they have been named Erin and Orla.
Sadly, one rabbit was found dead at the scene, and there was initially no sign of the other two.
Staff from the RSPCA centre returned to search again the following day and luckily found one more - baby Tara - who is thought to be the offspring of one of the females.
The incident comes as the charity raises concerns about the welfare of rabbits, with figures showing an increasing number of the pets being abandoned.
Claire Wood, from the RSPCA's Worcester and Mid Worcester branch, said:
It's incredible that a small, young domesticated rabbit like Tara has survived out on her own for two nights, somehow managing to escape the many predators that would have come her way, not to mention the risk posed by passing traffic.
Erin and Orla, who we think are siblings, were also thankfully uninjured and in very good condition, and our suspicion is that they were unwanted pets who have been deliberately abandoned. There was no box or carrier nearby and it was only by chance that they were spotted.
They are now safe in our care, but sadly join an ever-increasing number of rabbits that we are taking in.
Despite rabbits being typically thought of as 'easy' pets this is far from the case and the RSPCA is concerned that some people are taking on these complex animals without proper understanding of their needs.
The charity is also worried that rabbits which may have been brought for children during the national lockdowns, are now being relinquished.
Figures released last week show that 859 rabbits were taken in by the RSPCA in 2021, an increase of 28 per cent on the year before. By mid-February, nearly 90 had come in.
In 2021 there were 4,741 incidents relating to rabbits reported to the charity, compared to 4,508 in 2020. The number of abandoned rabbits dealt with by officers also sadly increased to 1,559 last year, compared to 1,242 in 2020.
The Holdings Rescue and Rehoming Centre is now caring for 12 rescue rabbits and is full to capacity, with a further 25 bunnies on a waiting list. If you are interested in adopting a rabbit please visit their website for further details.
Anyone with information about Tara, Erin and Orla, who were first spotted on 24 February, should contact the RSPCA's inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.