CottonTails® Rabbit and Guinea Pig Rescue
Annual Report 2016

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.




In common with previous years, the pressure to take in large numbers of unwanted rabbits has been high, alleviated slightly by having 3 foster carers in constant use during 2016.

Despite various challenges, we still managed to place 68% of rabbits and 88% of guinea pigs in new homes within 1 month of them being ready for adoption, quite an accomplishment considering our adoption criteria is significantly more strict than many re-homing centres.

2016 saw the construction of our new guinea pig accommodation section, as well as the construction of new replacement hutches for the upper level of the rabbit accommodation section.

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 2016, 115 rabbits were taken in, a 30% increase on figures from last year.



Gender difference was exactly half of each, 50% being male and 50% females.

Pairs versus singles

adoption singles pairs

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 for high success rates with rabbit bonding sessions of all ages, but also highlights the problems facing rescue centres in respect that far fewer owners are choosing to adopt pairs from rescues (or pairs at all), possibly preferring other sources such as pet shops and breeders.


type of rabbit

The majority of rabbits taken in during 2016 were upright eared – 60%, compared with 40% lop eared – in common with previous years apart from 2015 where lower intake numbers possibly accounted for the reversal of this pattern.



There has been a definite shift in age group of rabbit arrivals, with a clear trend showing an increase in older rabbits are being handed in, following the trend set during 2015. Most of the rabbits taken in were between 1-3 years old (48%), with 28% of the intake being under 1 year, 21% over 3 years and 3% under 12 weeks. The under 12 weeks figure can vary hugely from year to year depending on how many litters we have been asked to take in. The trend towards older rabbits coming in was first noticed in 2013, and has continued since. This may be due to more owners having to part with their pets due to changes in circumstances rather than the novelty having worn off (which tends to happen within the first year).

Adoption timescale

adoption timescale

This is calculated from the day the rabbit was actually ready for adoption after neutering and vaccinating. 68% were found new homes within 1 month, 18% between 1 – 3 months, 14% over 3 months. This is a very 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 an average level in the 2016 intake, 22% 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 VHD and Myxomatosis (combined vaccine) has continued as before for every rabbit prior to adoption, although the current vaccine does not cover for all strains of VHD. The new imported vaccine that has only recently become available unfortunately does not cover the VHD strain that we routinely get in the UK, so we have made the decision, in common with RSPCA, to stick to the current and widely used vaccine only. Should veterinary advice change, we will review the situation again.

Our catchment area has again proved to be relatively wide, with 53% of people adopting rabbits or guinea pigs coming from Wiltshire, 17% from Bath and Somerset, 7% from Bristol, and 23% from other areas, several from over 100 miles away. For people who brought in their rabbit or guinea pig to us for re-homing, 45% came from Wiltshire, 21% from Bath and Somerset, 14% from Bristol, and 20% from other areas. It is apparent that in 2016 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 2016 was 52, a 14% increase on last year. The lower intake compared to rabbits (115, 55% lower) likely reflects their better suitability as family pets compared to rabbits.

Sexes – Of the total intake, 50% were male, 50% female. All single males were routinely castrated so that they could be matched with females and placed for adoption in pairs or as match-ups.

Pairs versus singles – 53% were adopted as single guinea pigs for match-ups for owners’ lonely guinea pigs, with the remaining 47% as established pairs. This is a change in pattern from previous years 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 (88%) were adopted within 1 month of arrival, the remaining 12% being re-homed within 3 months.

Breeds – Most (77%) were short haired breeds, the remaining 23% being long haired, which is the pattern observed in previous years.

Age – Most (50%) of the guinea pigs coming in were aged between 1-3 years, with 34% under 1 year. 8% were under 12 weeks, and 8% over 3 years old.




Total income for 2016 was £16,669.90. Gift Aid has again proved useful, providing us with over £2000 of extra funding which will be included in the accounts for 2017 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 5% of our total income. 28% of the total income was as a result of donations made directly into our bank account by direct debit/standing order. This includes 15% 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, and general donations.


HOME FARM £44.10








J Merrick

E Abbott

M. Loughlin

J. Arrowsmith-Brown

J. Holmes

L. Smith

B. Coe

H. Lambert and B. Moth

J. Cuss

L. Curtis-Carvalho

J Farrell

K Seddon


K Butler

J Vaughan

H Auckland

Melanie, Jago and Jasmine Maddison

J Knight

Mr and Mrs Semple (in memory of Warren)

J Cross

U Woodruff

H Barsby

E Wilson

J Crook

V Sleap

F Best

C Taylor

T Haddock

E Black

R Riley

D Ellard

F Perfect

M Osmond

D Sheardown

E Duffield

G Towers

K Taylor

M Kominczak-Tiet

C Ridley

C A Steele

D Betts

S Boulton

S Smith

E Porter


A Jenkins

H Crook

D Pinegar

V Peat

O Sheppard

R Lees

C Rowland

Sponsors for the Adopt A Hutch Scheme

J Vaughan

D Ellard

L Miller

C Whitwham

S Webber

D Jones

C McGuire



The total expenditure for 2016 was £21,898.52. Considering we had two major projects completed and paid for during 2016, our expenditure was not significantly higher than in previous years. The money used for both projects was received in 2015 but for technical reasons they were not started until 2016. For this reason, the accounts for 2015 appear to be in credit, whereas the accounts for 2016 appear to have made a loss as the payment for both major projects came out of finances for 2016.

The two significant projects in 2016 were:

  •  Dismantling and disposal of existing guinea pig shed (10’ x 12’), and complete rebuild of new guinea pig shed to same size – cost so far =  £3919.60. We are still waiting for the invoice for electrical installation, now to be paid out of 2017 accounts. Our thanks to LPS Garden Buildings (Melksham) for dismantling and disposing of our old shed, free of charge.  See photos below, taken on a very wet afternoon!
  •  Replacement of 4 large rabbit hutches – total cost £875.  The photo below shows one of the 8′ hutches.







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.

Francis, Hazel, Wendy, Michael, and Rachael who all took at least one turn to transport rabbits and guinea pigs to and from the vets in Bristol for neutering.

Foster carers Annabelle, Lizzie and Thea, 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 when he can.

LPS Garden Buildings (Melksham) for dismantling and disposing of our old guinea pig shed free of charge.

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® 2016 annual report written and compiled by Mairwen Guard, MBE, Trustee.