THE RSPCA in Somerset rescued 39 furry animals last year that had been treated cruelly, neglected or abandoned.

In the county, the animal welfare charity also dealt with 244 incidents involving smaller furry creatures in 2018.

The organisation is now calling on animal lovers to think carefully before buying rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, ferrets and other fluffy creatures as starter pets for their children.

It is warning that it's important to remember small does not necessarily mean simple as they can have complex needs.

Dr Jane Tyson, the RSPCA's rabbit and rodent welfare expert, said: "Many people think the RSPCA only rescues and rehomes cats and dogs, but this is not the case.

"We see thousands of small furries coming into our care every year and often this is as a result of owners being unable to cope with caring for these animals who they thought would be easy to look after.

"Small furries can make great pets but they are often very misunderstood.

"One of the biggest issues we see with small pets such as these is people taking them on with little or no research, often buying them on impulse because their children have asked for them.

"This can lead to families struggling to cope once they realise the large amount of time, money and care these animals actually need.

"It used to be a common sight to see a lone rabbit in a small hutch at the bottom of the garden or a hamster in a tiny cage in the corner of a child’s bedroom.

"Hopefully these images are consigned to the past and people realise that these complex animals need so much more than that."

This Adoptober the RSPCA is shining a light on rabbits and small furries in its care which are looking for homes.

Last year, the RSPCA rehomed 2,752 rabbits - about 340 a month.

While many of the 44,000 animals the charity rehomes every year are snapped up by new families within just a few weeks, others can spend much longer patiently waiting for their furever home.