HOW IT ALL BEGAN – the story behind CottonTails

CottonTails Rabbit & Guinea Pig Rescue > Information & Resource Centre > Information and More > HOW IT ALL BEGAN – the story behind CottonTails

My love of animals started in early childhood, and I was nine years old when my first rabbit “Minky” arrived, a black and white dutch female, purchased from the local pet shop.  Many more subsequently followed, most of whom were “rescues” from people who no longer wanted them. My experiences as a young adult working in Edinburgh Zoo, the Dog and Cat Home, and at the local veterinary practice helped me with my higher degree studies in Endocrinology and Behaviour in animals. Although ill health cut short my scientific career, a new vocation opened up when, in 1993, a local vet brought me a very young, brain-damaged wild rabbit for hand rearing. Despite all the odds, “Little Bun” survived. While enquiring about finding her a companion, I discovered how desperate the plight of unwanted rabbits actually was. Thus, CottonTails® was born.

In the first few years, I took in over 900 unwanted rabbits and 200 guinea pigs a year, plus varying numbers of chinchillas, birds and wildlife.  Since we started in 1993, I have taken in well over 10,000 animals, the majority being rabbits. Due to various changes in location and circumstances, the average intake reduced gradually over the years to around 250 rabbits and 150 guinea pigs a year.  The changes and improvements of improved veterinary techniques also resulted in all rabbits being neutered so they could be given a chance to live in compatible pairs or small groups. This resulted in a necessary increase in the size of the rabbit hutches and runs, thus decreasing the number of animals we could take at any time.

Since Covid, things have had to change radically, and we have now switched to the free Direct Rehoming Service, where the animal remains in its current home while efforts are made via Facebook and the website to find a suitable new home.  This has proved to be very successful and ironically has resulted in the charity being able to help more rabbits, guinea pigs and their owners as we do not now have to wait for a vacancy to be able to help.  CottonTails offers a grant of £60 towards any rabbit needing neutering and £40 towards vaccination that is rehomed via this service and also provides £60 towards male guinea pig castration for guinea pigs that have been rehomed through this service.  These grants are paid to the veterinary practice chosen by the new owner to carry out the procedures. There is no charge for this rehoming service, nor any adoption fees, although donations to the charity are always welcomed.

We are not just a rescue centre but also offer advice and basic practical help such as claw clipping and grooming, and the online advice service is well-used and provides a lifeline to many rabbit owners across the UK.   In addition, CottonTails® is involved in education and rabbit welfare issues, and I strive to keep up to date with advances in veterinary medicine. The rescue centre is a registered charity and is entirely self-funded.

“We are very pleased to join forces with Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (Bristol A.R.C.) to improve rabbit welfare in Bristol and the surrounding area. We will provide Bristol A.R.C. funding to cover the cost of neutering rabbits through Bristol A.R.C.’s outreach services. Eligible rabbit owners seeking support with neutering and vaccinating their rabbits can find out more on Bristol A.R.C.’s website here: Outreach Clinics “

Mairwen Guard M.B.E. (Trustee)

Find us on: