CottonTails® Rabbit and Guinea Pig Rescue
Annual Report 2017

Charity Number 1078850

Established in 1993

 Main Name:  CottonTails®

Working Name:  CottonTails® Rescue 

Charitable Objects:  To relieve the suffering of rabbits and other animals who are in need of care and attention in particular by providing and maintaining suitable accommodation for the reception and care of unwanted rabbits and other animals. 

To advance the education of the public in the care and ownership of animals.



I am delighted to be able to report that during 2017 we managed to place 86% of rabbits and 96% of guinea pigs in suitable new homes within 1 month of them being ready for adoption, quite an accomplishment considering our adoption criteria is significantly demanding.

2017 saw the urgent introduction of the new RHD2 vaccination programme due to the sudden appearance of this fatal disease which is continuing to kill a high percentage of rabbits that have not been vaccinated.  This vaccination is in addition to the combined RHD1/Myxomatosis vaccination programme, resulting in every rabbit arriving at the centre requiring 2 vaccinations prior to adoption.

Enquiries via the telephone helpline and by email for advice, re-homing (rabbits/guinea pigs coming in) and adoption (rabbits/guinea pigs going out) have been consistent throughout the year, with small peaks and troughs at particular times.  The holiday season, Easter, and the onset of winter weather are all factors that influence the adoption and re-homing figures.


During 2017, 119 rabbits were taken in, a small increase to last year.



Gender difference showed a 4% bias towards males, but I attach no significance to this as in the previous 24 years the difference has been almost 50:50 and the small sample size of 119 is not enough to attach any significance to such small a change.

Pairs versus singles

The majority of rabbits (77%) were adopted as match-ups for owners’ lonely bunnies, the remaining 23% being adopted as established pairs.  This is largely due to our reputation with rabbit bonding of all ages, but also highlights the likelihood that far fewer owners are choosing to adopt pairs from rescues, possibly preferring other sources such as pet shops and breeders. As the latter options do not provide a bonding service, owners therefore have to turn to other sources such as rescue centres instead.


90% of the rabbit intake were upright eared compared with 10% lops.  This is a significant change as up to now the lop rabbit has always been well represented in total intake numbers.  With a notable increase in intake of the lionhead breed (as shown in the photo) it is possible that the sharp increase in this breed’s popularity has accounted for the swing away from the lop rabbit.


There was only a 10% difference between the smallest category and the largest, so 2017 proved to be a year where our intake was across a broad spectrum of ages, with no real significant bias towards any age.  The “under 12 weeks” category can be skewed easily by the arrival of several litters, so the more significant figures to study are the ages above this, which as can be seen from the graph are almost the same.

Adoption timescale

This is calculated from the day the rabbit was actually ready for adoption after neutering and vaccinating.  86% were found new homes within 1 month, the remaining 14% between 1 – 3 months. This is an extremely positive result and indicates CottonTails® is steadily increasing its visibility and exposure so that more people contact us first when needing to bond a bereaved rabbit or guinea pig, or adopt a pair, hence increasing speed of adoption.

Dental disease has proved to be at a lower level in the 2017 intake than in previous years, 13% of the total intake being found to have significant dental abnormalities when examined by our vets prior to neutering, with the subsequent decision to have the affected rabbits put to sleep.  Our neutering policy continued as before, with rabbits of both sexes being routinely castrated or spayed at reduced cost by the RSPCA veterinary clinic in Bristol.  Vaccination against RHD1/Myxomatosis (combined vaccine) has continued as before for every rabbit prior to adoption, and in the latter months of 2017 we introduced the routine vaccination of all rabbits against RHD2 prior to adoption.

Our catchment area has again proved to be relatively wide, with 54% of people adopting rabbits or guinea pigs coming from Wiltshire, 21% from Bath and Somerset, 3% from Bristol, and 22% from other areas, several from over 100 miles away.

For people who brought in their rabbit or guinea pig to us for re-homing, 36% came from Wiltshire, 16% from Bath and Somerset, 20% from Bristol, and 28% from other areas.  It is apparent that in 2017 more people came from outside the Wiltshire area to both bring in and also to adopt rabbits or guinea pigs.  This increasing awareness of our existence is likely due to our website and people being more inclined to search on line to find what they are looking for, thus increasing our geographic range.


The intake of guinea pigs for 2017 was 69, a 25% increase on last year. The lower intake compared to rabbits likely reflects their better suitability as family pets compared to rabbits resulting in smaller numbers being unwanted. 

Sexes – Of the total intake, 41% were male, 59% female, not a particularly significant difference due to the small sample size.  All single males were routinely castrated so that they could be matched with females and placed for adoption in pairs or as match-ups.  This amounted to 39% of the total number of males, the rest arriving in bonded male pairs.

Pairs versus singles – 44% were adopted as single guinea pigs for match-ups for owners’ lonely guinea pigs, with the remaining 56% as established pairs.  This is a continuation of a change in pattern from previous years which start in 2016 where far more guinea pigs were adopted as pairs than singles, possibly indicating a raised awareness of the importance of guinea pigs living in pairs or groups.

Adoption timescale – Most (96%) were adopted within 1 month of being ready for adoption, the remaining 4% being re-homed within 3 months.

Breeds – There was not a big difference between long haired (54%) breeds and short haired (46%), which is different from previous years as previously the large majority have been short haired varieties.  This may indicate that long haired breeds are becoming more popular, as our intake tends to reflect what people are buying from pet shops and breeders the year before, which is a worrying trend as many owners simply cannot manage the maintenance required to keep the fur clean and tidy. 

Age – Most (45%) of the guinea pigs coming in were aged between 1-3 years, 31% over 3 years old, 13% under 1 year and 11% were under 12 weeks. The increase in the over 3 years old category appears to reflect the general instability in the area of housing and employment as many in this category were brought in by people having to move into rented accommodation due to a sudden change in circumstances.  Most rented properties will not allow pets, hence the problem and the heartache for many owners.




Total income for 2017 was £17,378.74.  Gift Aid has again proved useful, providing us with over £2000 of extra funding which will be included in the accounts for 2018 as we apply for the award at the start of each year.  Several individuals and organisations have been invaluable to the continuation of CottonTails® financially.  I would like to give a very big thank you to each and every one who helped even in a small way, and my sincere apologies if I have accidentally omitted anyone from the list.

Some people have very kindly raised funds for us by using the Easy Fundraising, Charities Trust, and Give as you live fundraising-as-you-shop schemes, but I only receive totals of these funds so am unable to name individuals.  The money raised in this way generated 2% of our total income.  25% of the total income was as a result of donations made directly into our bank account by direct debit/standing order.   This includes 12% of total income due to donations made via the PayPal link on our website, from the sale of shop items on the website, funds generated by the Adopt-a Hutch scheme, adoption fees, and general donations.


ANIMAL AFFAIRS                                                               £400

CHARITIES TRUST                                                             £260

EASYFUNDRAISING                                                          £76.08

GIVE AS YOU LIVE                                                             £23.42

WESTON COYNEY PET LODGE                                     £140

MANOR FARM VETS, CODFORD                                  £18

NORTH HILL HOUSE SCHOOL, FROME                    £30.40

LIONS FETE, FROME                                                        £10.10

FIONA GIBSON (on behalf of a family trust)                £500


J Merrick

E Abbott

M Loughlin

J Arrowsmith-Brown

J Holmes

L Smith

B Coe

H Lambert and B Moth

J Cuss

C Muddiman

C J Thomas

M Beck

Mr and Mrs Thomas

N C Crook

M Welton

K Johnn

A Butler

P Clark

L Burnett

T O’Malley

J Wells

H Barsby

S Evans

S and E Semple (in memory of Warren)

D Ellard

K Butler

S C Griffiths

L Connell

D Rowe

J Farrell

K Seddon

K Butler

J Xavier

A Nice

A Mills

T Benford

A Wildman

P Todd

J Orford

Min Brown

D Critchley

Vivek Upadhyay

C Garry

J Robertson

M Hughes

Sponsors for the Adopt A Hutch Scheme

J Vaughan

J Simpson

E Linders

M Rose and M Flux

D Ellard

J Robertson and M Hughes

T Mulcrone

Jennifer and Helen

L Childs

E Tucker

K Alexander

A Millar

E Donelon


J Woodman

W and G Barry

C Thomas

D Barnes

K Reid

H Crook

S Davies

A Jones


The total expenditure for 2017 was £17,694.29

Major expenditures were:

  • Replacement printer
  • RHD2 new vaccine and combined vaccine
  • Electrical work on the new guinea pig shed
  • Replacement laptop
  • Roll of specialist white plastic for completion of new run sunscreens

Total Expenditure £17694.29

Total Income £17378.74

Loss during 2017 of £315.55

Our bank account remains healthy and will see us through the next year comfortably so long as our income levels remain similar to 2017 figures.



     CottonTails® could not continue its valuable work if it was not for the excellent support from some wonderful people who have given help in various ways.  Sincere apologies for any omissions:

The Trustees for their continued support.

The RSPCA veterinary team headed by Damian Pacini in Bristol who carry out our neutering operations and most of our vaccinations, and without whom we could not continue.

Manor Farm Vets at Codford for supplying us with vaccines and medications.

Francis, Wendy and Hazel, who all took turns to transport rabbits and guinea pigs to and from the vets in Bristol for neutering.

Foster carers Annabelle and Lizzie, without whom we would really struggle.

Annabelle, Hetty and Hannah, who continue helping to clean out on weekends.

Jon Humphrey for his support with issues relating to the web site.

My son Ben, and also Hetty and Isobel for giving vital holiday cover when I manage to sneak away.

My son David who helps out with the chickens and pigeons.

Last but not least, my husband Francis who not only provides the transport for the frequent waste disposal trips, medication, food and bedding pickups from the vet and rabbit/guinea pig rescues but also puts up with the inconvenience of living alongside a rabbit rescue centre!

CottonTails® 2017 annual report written and compiled by Mairwen Guard, MBE, Trustee.