THE RSPCA is urging animal lovers to think and plan carefully before buying a small furry animal as a ‘starter pet’ for their children as they reveal they rescued - on average - more than one per day last year in Wales.

Rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, ferrets, chinchillas, hamsters are often seen as an easy, first pet for children.

However, it is important to remember that small does not necessarily mean simple - as they can have complex needs.

The call comes as the RSPCA's month-long Adoptober rehoming drive continues - this week focussed on the large numbers of small furry animals looking for a second chance of happiness, after rescue from situations including abandonment and neglect.

Across England and Wales last year, the RSPCA rescued thousands of rabbits and other small furries from cases of cruelty, neglect and abandonment - with 388 in Wales; 142 of these being rabbits.

The charity has confirmed that in 2018 a total of 50 small furry pets were rescued in Flintshire, 15 of which were rabbits.

In Wrexham, 25 were rescued, 18 of these were rabbits.

Rescue efforts have continued into 2019. Only last month (September), six guinea pigs were rescued by an RSPCA inspector after they were abandoned in Barry.

They were found in a Lidl bag - which was soiled in faeces - in a layby off Port Road. Three of the guinea pigs are now at RSPCA Newport Animal Centre - Tom, Jerry and Spike - where they are patiently awaiting their forever homes.

Dr Jane Tyson, the RSPCA’s rabbit and rodent welfare expert, said: “Many people think the RSPCA only rescues and rehomes cats and dogs but this is not the case.

“We see thousands of small furries coming into our care every year and often this is as a result of owners being unable to cope with caring for these animals who they thought would be easy to look after.

“Small furries can make great pets but they are often very misunderstood.

"One of the biggest issues we see with small pets such as these is people taking them on with little or no research, often buying them on impulse because their children have asked for them.

"This can lead to families struggling to cope once they realise the large amount of time, money and care these animals actually need.

“It used to be a common sight to see a lone rabbit in a small hutch at the bottom of the garden or a hamster in a tiny cage in the corner of a child’s bedroom but hopefully these images are consigned to the past and people realise that these complex animals need so much more than that.”

At RSPCA Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre staff are looking for homes for a wonderfully named trio of rabbits currently in their care - Frodo Hoppins, Rabbit De Niro, and Marilyn Bunroe.

White and tan domestic rabbit Helga, aged approximately one year, is also at the Upper Colwyn Bay centre but has sadly has had no interest from visiting members of the public for some time.

She has a big character and will make a wonderful addition to the family.

There are also ferrets looking for their second chance of happiness at the Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre. Hop, Skip and Jump are three brothers who came into RSPCA following concerns for their welfare.

To find out more about Adoptober and the pets available for rehoming, visit: