MORE than a dozen rabbits have been found abandoned by bins in Southend, as the RSPCA launch an appeal.

The 16 rabbits including four babies were of various breeds and were all squashed inside two cardboard boxes and left in an alleyway at Hamstel Road.

The animal charity hopes the differences in appearances between the rabbits may be remembered by someone as it seeks to trace the owner.

Echo: Found - Rabbits abandoned in SouthendFound - Rabbits abandoned in Southend (Image: RSPCA)

Among the breeds are Netherland Dwarf and lop-eared rabbits, while four of the bunnies are babies.

While most of the rabbits were in a healthy condition, two were unable to stand when they were found, but have since recovered.

They were spotted by a member of the public who took them to a vet on Wednesday, July 19. One of the babies, a two-week-old, is now being hand reared by a member of staff at a local rescue, while some of the other rabbits are being cared for at South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

RSPCA inspector Jenny Wildman, who is investigating the abandonment, said: “Fortunately, these poor rabbits appear to have been found quite quickly it seems, as there were no droppings in the box, which is just as well as four are babies.

“They do stand out as they are all different breeds, which is unusual and that might trigger someone’s memory. Someone might know of an owner who had lots of different rabbits.

“We are appealing for anyone who has information on how they were left in this way to contact us. It may be that these rabbits were with breeders and sadly these are the ones they couldn’t sell.

“It is horrible to think they were found in a box next to some bins, as there was nothing to distinguish them from any other rubbish that had been left out.”

The boxes the rabbits were left in were previously used to store burger buns and drinks, but there was no note found attached.

The RSPCA is grappling with a big rise in the numbers of rabbits that are being abandoned or given up.

During 2022 there was a 48 per cent increase in the intake of rabbits to the charity’s branches and animal centres compared to 2021 - with over 3,000 unwanted rabbits arriving.

But rehoming rates have slowed down, which has left the charity looking after more and more rabbits for longer.

Anyone with any information as to how these rabbits were left in Southend is asked to ring the RSPCA appeals line number on 0300 123 8018.