Bunny ‘so terrifying’ that owner is forced to give it up

Rachel Parsons (left) from Croydon Animal Samaritans, was contacted by a woman terrified of her dwarf rabbit Midge (right) (Picture: SWNS)

A woman who bought an ‘aggressive’ dwarf rabbit on Gumtree was forced to give it away because she became terrified of the animal.

She bought the 14-month-old Netherland Dwarf rabbit – one of the smallest breeds – after seeing an advert on the popular website.

The woman had the rabbit, called Midge, for six months but eventually got in touch with Croydon Animal Samaritans to say she was ‘scared to interact’ with him because he was ‘very aggressive’.

Rachel Parsons, who works at the south London animal welfare charity, is now warning others about buying pets on sites such as Gumtree.

She says it’s difficult to know what conditions the animals have been kept in and how they’ve been treated.

Talking about the case of Midge, she said: ‘The owner said the rabbit was very aggressive and was biting so I asked if maybe he was nervous and if he was castrated, and she said he was.

‘They contacted the breeder but he was very unhelpful and said he didn’t want the rabbit back.

Midge is not showing aggression at his foster home says Rachel (Picture: Croydon Animal Samaritans / SWNS)

‘Basically, he told her he doesn’t breed rabbits that have a default like that.’

Rachel decided to contact the breeder herself, who told her the same thing, brutally adding that ‘if they’re not right, they will just go in the bin’.

‘I then told him I was from a rescue and he said all his rabbits are trained to be incredibly tidy and to use their litter trays and they don’t spray.

‘The way he talked about them was in a very disciplinary way. It wasn’t that he was talking about his beloved pets.’

Rachel said it was essential rabbits have a buddy and Midge may have been aggressive because he was alone.

She added: ‘We don’t know if the rabbit had been mistreated, the breeder was obviously saying he wasn’t but when I asked him what sort of space the rabbits were kept in he said they were in hatches in a shed.

‘When the owner went to pick up Midge he was on the doorstep, which is when alarm bells would have been ringing.’

She said the breeder was part of the British Rabbit Council, an organisation which puts on rabbit ‘shows’ that are ‘incredibly cruel’.

‘It’s a very outdated hobby where rabbits are kept in cages and judges take them out and prod and poke them and grade them like they’re a cake.

Rachel advises against buying rabbits on sites like Gumtree (Picture: SWNS)

‘If this rabbit was used for that, it would be even more terrified.’

She said he denied Midge was used in shows.

Rachel has now reported the breeder – who is based in Gravesend, Kent, to the British Rabbit Council.

Midge, meanwhile, is with a fosterer who is part of nationwide rabbit rescue group, Bunny Angels.

‘He hasn’t shown any sign of aggression,’ Rachel said.

‘He can lunge for food but is nervous but she can see some improvement already.’

A spokesperson for Gumtree said: ‘At Gumtree, we take the welfare of animals listed on our site very seriously.

‘We have extensive information for both sellers and buyers on how to safely rehome pets, including a specific guide for introducing small furry pets such as a rabbit into your home.

‘Our guides have been informed by our work with leading animal welfare organisations, including the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund and the Pets Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) – the UK’s trade body covering online animal sales made up of 25 welfare organisations including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dogs Trust, and the RSPCA among others.’

They urged potential rabbits owners to read the guides before buying and asked anyone with doubts or suspicions about a seller to contact Gumtree immediately via its help desk.

The spokesperson added: ‘Our dedicated safety team will always investigate and take necessary action, such as removing the ad, blocking the offender from the site or assisting law enforcement investigations.’

According to Croydon Animal Samaritans, there are currently more than 100,000 rabbits in rescue centres across the UK

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