A RISE in “starter pets” during lockdown could lead to an increase in neglect due to their complex needs, the RSPCA has warned.

The animal charity revealed that it dealt with 205 incidents involving small pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, in North Yorkshire last year.

The charity says that people looking for small pets to buy online soared during lockdown compared to last year, with searches for rabbits alone tripling.

“While we believe many people buy small pets with good intentions, there is a risk that not enough research is being done and we are concerned that this could lead to an increase of neglect in the months to come,” said Dr Jane Tyson, from the RSPCA.