Putting the bounce back into rescued rabbits’ lives

There’s a little place in Speedwell, Bristol that houses a few rabbits. More than just a few, currently they have over 60 and, if they could they’d have even more under their care. This is The Littlest Lives Rescue, a not-for-profit organisation whose vision is ‘a future where all rabbits are provided with a responsible and loving home for life’.

Artists impression of the new rescue

Fifteen years after it was founded, The Littlest Lives Rescue’s mission remains the same – to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome rabbits, and the need for their services has hugely increased during lockdown as trustee Jo Bray explains. “With many more people – and their children – at home in 2020 due to Covid, the demand for pets rocketed and with the price of dogs beyond many, less expensive pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits were bought in large numbers. Rabbits can make great pets but like any animal they have specific needs and, for a first time pet owner these requirements can be surprisingly demanding, not least if you want the rabbit to thrive and be happy. Rabbits are social animals; in the wild they live in large groups but in a domestic situation they are happiest in pairs, but this in itself can cause problems. Wrongly sexed and unneutered rabbits housed together breed quickly and a few unsuspecting owners have unfortunately been caught out. Though litters aren’t large – on average five kits (babies) per litter – this can happen every 30 days, and the kits themselves can breed after just a few months!”

With many people now going back to work and with the new school term starting the Rescue is receiving record numbers of enquiries from people that want to give up their rabbits, and due to work commitments they’ve also lost nearly half of their foster volunteers at the worst possible time.

 “The aim of The Rescue is to provide a responsible and loving permanent home for the rabbits, but it can take time to find suitable homes for them. We ensure that every rabbit that leaves us has been neutered and vaccinated by a vet which carries a cost as you can imagine. So we fundraise as much as we can, though we’re expecting our application for charitable status to be approved soon which will enable us to do far more.”

The Rescue is run by a team of volunteers and is a completely self-funded organisation. They rely on public donations and the sale of branded gifts such as t-shirts and calendars through their online shop to fund its rescue work and, have plans to solve the current challenges that they face.

“Our biggest problem is space” explains Jo. “So we desperately need help in looking for a new home for the Rescue, in Bristol or the surrounding area, one where we can receive, process and house rabbits given up for adoption. It will be a dedicated centre that will be staffed and will mean we can look after more rabbits at the centre rather than relying completely on foster families. Our group of permanent residents will be moving to the new premises too. There are 24 in total that can’t be rehomed due to various reasons, so they live together as one large, bonded group. We adhere to the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund) guidelines regarding the recommended size of the enclosures needed for rabbits, so we’re looking for a space to rent of up to half an acre that is at least partly grassed, with a small building/barn. This will mean we can build up to 80 enclosures, provide an enclosure for our permanent residents, securely store feed and have a small office set up. In the last year we’ve rescued and rehomed nearly 160 rabbits but this means we can help more in the years to come as well as helping to educate the public about keeping rabbits as pets.” 

If you are able to offer or help with our land search, or if you’d like to volunteer as a fosterer, a fundraiser, or help in any other way The Littlest Lives Rescue will be pleased to hear from you. Email hello@thelittlestlivesrescue.org.uk

To donate to our relocation and the running of the rescue please visit:
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thelittlestlivesrescuerelocation

#lovelittlelives #raceforspace

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