The RSPCA branch caring for 50 rabbits abandoned in lockdown

A Northumberland branch of the RSPCA is currently caring for more than four times the usual number of pet rabbits as people struggle to care for their lockdown pets.

The West Northumberland branch of the charity, based in Hexham, usually has around a dozen rabbits in its care - but it currently has 53.

The animals have been found running loose, abandoned with a litter of babies in lay-bys, and left in hutches that are too small to accommodate their needs.

The branch's trustee, Jan Ormiston, said rabbit ownership had exploded during lockdown.

She said: "Rabbit ownership went up 200 per cent in lockdown, because people thought it was a good starter pet for children - and they're not.

"They're quite complex creatures and they take some looking after. To neuter, microchip and vaccinate a rabbit costs about £150.

"They breed quickly too - we neuter all our rabbits, but we had a group come that had been left to just run wild, and on the day they were due to be neutered one of them gave birth to four more."

West Northumberland is the only branch in Northumberland to take rabbits, and some have even had to be turned away and sent to branches elsewhere - as there is simply no more room.