RABBIT owners are being urged to make sure they keep their pets warm this winter.
Maria Harrison, who runs the Willows Cat Adotion Centre, in Wantage Street, South Shields, says hundreds of the animals freeze to death each year.
She said: “They freeze in their outside hutches because of inadequate insulation.
“At Easter time, a lot of people buy baby rabbits for their children, and by Christmas, they’re wanting rid of them because they don’t know how to look after them.
“In the wild, they burrow deep underground and they have each other to keep warm and they can’t do that when they’re in a hutch outside.
“They need to be brought inside or at the very least, into an out-building.”
She added: “Rabbits are very intelligent creatures. They can easily be trained to use a litter tray and they make great house pets.”
Mrs Harrison has a rabbit called Gabriel who she is hoping won’t be left out in the cold this Christmas.
The pointy-eared bunny is currently being cared for by staff at the centre.
She said: “I’m hoping to find a home for Gabriel, but at the same time, give people some advice about caring for rabbits during the winter.
“If people want to ring me, I’m happy to give them some advice about how to look after their rabbits at this time of year.”
To give Gabriel a home, or get some advice about caring for rabbits in winter, call 5366 221 or 07719 605 383.