RSPCA warns rise in ‘starter pets’ could lead to rise in neglect

The RSPCA has issued a warning over the interest in ‘starter pets’ during lockdown, which often lead to an increase in neglect due to their complex needs.

Google searches for small pets to buy during lockdown soared compared to the year before, with ‘rabbits for sale’ searches more than tripling from 18,000 in July 2019 to 65,000 in July 2020.

The charity said its rescue teams took nearly 240 rabbits into its care during lockdown due to cruelty, neglect and abandonment.

Dr. Jane Tyson, from the RSPCA’s Companion Animals Department, said: “Small furries can be fantastic pets to have, however they have a reputation as a good ‘starter pet’ for children as there’s a misconception that they’re easy to look after, but they actually have quite complex needs.

“For example, rabbits need to live in pairs as they’re sociable animals – and need a much bigger space to explore and exercise in than just a hutch.”

She added: “During lockdown there seems to have been an increase in interest for starter pets, which may be because parents were at home with their children and so thought it was a good time to bring a new pet into the family.”

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