Helping small animals to have a brighter future

February 01 2018

Animal lover Sian Harris takes a peek behind the facade of a Staple Hill house and finds a sanctuary for rabbits and guinea pigs


Animal lover Sian Harris takes a peek behind the facade of a Staple Hill house and finds a sanctuary for rabbits and guinea pigs 


ONE normal-looking Staple Hill house has a very unusual back garden. Behind the expected patio chairs and washing line is a maze – you could say a rabbit warren – of hutches, sheds and runs.

Every morning, whatever the weather, there is also a team of dedicated volunteers cleaning out hutches, checking small animals for health and introducing rabbits to each other in the “honeymoon suite”.

This is Bev Taylor’s back garden and Bev runs The Littlest Rescue, a small rescue dedicated to looking after and rehoming rabbits and guinea pigs. I say ‘small’ rescue but the reach of The Littlest Rescue is enormous. There are currently nearly 40 small animals at the main rescue in Bev’s garden and close to 100 more shared around foster homes across Bristol. And more small animals are looking for ‘furever’ homes all the time.

The need is huge. Rabbits are renowned for having many babies and are often bred for sale. Of course, rabbits do not stay babies forever and, surprising to many, they do not make great pets for small children. They also live a long time – typically up to ten years, which is close to the life span of a dog.

These factors together make rabbits the most neglected and abandoned pets in this country. Every year 67,000 rabbits pass through UK rescues - and many guinea pigs too. What’s more, many of those that are not abandoned live lonely lives in a small hutch, a far cry from the communal living and wide spaces that their wild cousins enjoy. 

The Littlest Rescue’s motto is “Remember the little ones” and the volunteers are passionate about rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals, looking after them and also finding loving homes for them. But it is hard work, costing both time and money, and is very difficult when something unexpected happens such as a core volunteer being ill, a large group of animals the suddenly need rehoming or an unexpected vet bill. It is not uncommon for the rescue to make urgent appeals for food.

As Bev explains: "Rabbits and other small animals need love and attention just like all pets but it is sad to see how many are neglected or abandoned. At The Littlest Rescue we care deeply about helping these animals to have a better future but, as a small, self-funded rescue, it is an ongoing challenge. We are grateful to all those who support these lovely animals."