RSPCA in Cambridgeshire reveals number of neglect incidents involving furry animals amid ‘starter pets’ warning

There were 149 incidents of neglect involving small furry animals last year, the RSPCA in Cambridgeshire has said.

Statistics on incidents involving small furry pets have been released by the animal welfare charity as it warns the public about a possible rise in neglect due to an increase in interest of ‘starter pets’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Between March 23 and August 31 this year, RSPCA rescue teams took nearly 240 rabbits into its care due to cruelty, neglect and abandonment.

During lockdown, searches on Google for small pets to buy soared compared to last year, with ‘rabbits for sale’ searches rising from 18,000 in July 2019 to 65,000 a year later.

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 is a misconception that they are easy to look after, but they actually have quite complex needs.

“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.”

MORE: Here are some of the 32 furry animals rescued from cruelty, neglect and abandonment by the RSPCA in Cambridgeshire last year alone

Nationally, the RSPCA dealt with 9,277 incidents involving small furry animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters in 2019.

The statistics have been released as the charity aims to rehome small furries as part of their Adoptober campaign.

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Degus Orla, Garnet, Amber and Bramble, all two-years-old, were brought to Block Fen Animal Centre after their owners were unable to continue looking after them.

A spokesperson for Block Fen Animal Centre said: “Degus are social and should be kept in pairs or small family groups.

“They enjoy climbing on branches, rocks and platforms, bathing in dust and are very active so need a large enclosure to give plenty of space to explore, plenty of enrichment to keep them occupied and can enjoy running on an exercise wheel.”

Dr Tyson added: “While we believe many people buy a small furry with good intentions, and many will also do their research, there is a risk that not enough research is being done and we are concerned that this could lead to an increase in neglect of small furries in the months to come.

“Adopting small furries from the RSPCA, either from our national centres or any of our branches around the country, will mean you will have all the information and advice you need to ensure your new pets are happy and healthy.”

For more information on how to rehome a small furry, visit

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