SPCA Whanganui has recently had an influx of rabbits, pushing its normal intake number to an all-time high.
Francie Flis, centre manager for Whanganui and Palmerston North SPCA, said over the last 12 weeks a number of stray rabbits and pet rabbits that are now pregnant have been surrendered to the centres.
"People don't realise how much time they take to look after," Flis said.
"They're buying them off pet shops or Facebook and not de-sexing them and before they know it, they're pregnant."
The centre's usual intake is only two rabbits at a time due to the amount of care and space they need, Flis said.
Currently, the Whanganui centre has nine rabbits and Palmerston North has 13.
"The beauty of us being one organisation is we are able to transfer to other centres but at the moment everyone is full."
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Flis said a few months ago they had a person surrender a rabbit that was pregnant with nine babies which then had to be distributed between the Whanganui and Levin SPCAs.
"It's a forgotten one - people don't think to desex their rabbits. It helps with behavioural issues and health issues."
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She said that, as with other animals, getting a rabbit de-sexed can increase its life span and add huge benefits to its overall health.
All rabbits purchased from the SPCA are $65 and come de-sexed, microchipped and vaccinated against the latest strain of calicivirus.
Microchipping is another forgotten factor when caring for a rabbit, Flis said.
"A lot of them that come in as strays, people find them in their backyard and we can't reunite them because they're not microchipped."
She said many people thought microchipping was unnecessary because a rabbit lives in a cage but there was always the risk of it getting out by digging a hole or someone leaving the latch open.
The SPCA offers a service to microchip pet rabbits for $25, Flis said.
The SPCA only adopts out rabbits in bonding pairs as they are social animals.
"If someone has already got a rabbit, we will bond [a SPCA rabbit] with their rabbit. They do need to go in pairs unless there is a behavioural issue and, because they come de-sexed, they can go in male and female pairs."
She said rabbits made great pets for people who did not want a dog or a cat and were one of the cleanest pets.
A photograph of the rabbits' enclosure is all that is required when wanting to adopt, unless the animals are going to be free-range and then a SPCA inspector will check the fencing is secure around the property.
People who want to support the local SPCA are invited to be part of the annual fundraising appeal.
Flis said around 30 volunteers are needed to collect funds all over Whanganui on March 6-8.
The money raised will go towards supporting the animals and the organisation as "the costs of running SPCA are huge", Flis said.
Over the past year Whanganui SPCA's intake of animals had increased 24 per cent so the organisation was always looking for more support, Flis said.
To take part in the appeal visit the SPCA website www.spca.nz