We've got another busy year planned at Nibbles and like everyone else we're hoping it's going to be a far better year than 2020! So what do we have in store for 2021.
Even with the addition of paid staff, we still require further voluntary help to keep the rescue running smoothly. We are on the hunt for a new rodent care volunteer, able to come in either on a Monday or Friday (10am-2pm) to care for the animals in the cabin. We also require further rabbit care volunteers on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays (10am-1pm). Our volunteers remain a vital part of Team Nibbles and without sufficient volunteers we will struggle. I never opened Nibbles to sit in the office and work on a laptop, but managing Nibbles isn't just about animal care. There is a huge mountain of paperwork and spreadsheets to deal with, from processing adoption applications, to keeping track of our expenses and funding needs. Office work isn't my favourite task, but it's a vital part of running a successful rescue.
Volunteering is a hugely rewarding experience and we all have a good laugh together. It's a great team, from all different walks of life, but with one really important thing in common - a love of rabbits and rodents. If you are looking for something new this year and interested in joining the team please hop over to www.nibbles.org.uk/volunteer and introduce yourself. We can't wait to hear from you and welcome you to the team.
Our need to increase our voluntary animal care team will become more vital as the year progresses, because our major goal this year is to complete our new builds! These have been planned since 2017 and for one reason or another we've failed to complete them to date. I'm praying that volunteer shortages won't be the reason we fail during 2021. We have just submitted a grant application to cover the cost of materials, so please keep everything crossed that we are successful.
We will be adding a much needed self contained quarantine unit to house rabbits on arrival. This unit will contain four 6x4 pens and provide temporary accommodation for rabbits while we get them vaccinated and neutered before they move into our main accommodation areas. It will also help speed up intakes, by providing extra accommodation to cater for rabbits being returned to the rescue in the event of a failed bonding.
Our next new build is to provide our sanctuary rabbits, Vinnie and Penguin, with better accommodation. As these boys will be with us for life it's time for them to have better digs to call home. We will be creating a single pen of the same design as our two builds of 2020. This will of course free up their current pad for pairs of rabbits needing space.
Next on the list will be two 8x4 kennels to provide housing for single rabbits, who will be looking for homes with existing companions. Lastly, we will be adding our much awaited bonding pen to allow us to reopen our onsite bonding service. We have been unable to offer an onsite bonding service for quite some time now, due to a lack of space and time. This pen will have a mesh divide, allowing the rabbits contact without the risk of fighting. At times when we are unable to carry out the bonding process, the rabbits will still be able to get to know each other. One side of this pen will also provide an extra space for a single rabbit looking for a home, as we will have the ability to switch singles between kennels.
There is a specific reason that I have listed our new builds in the above order. It's the order in which we need to build them due to their position and the space allowed. So our quarantine unit needs to go up first and our bonding unit last.
Our other building project for the year is to create a vitally needed hay store. At present we can store a week's worth of hay, 3 bales, in our little tin storage shed. This is all fine and well until we have another hay shortage as a result of poor weather. We've scrapped through in previous years, and at times I was so panicked that we simply wouldn't be able to find any hay for the rabbits. We all know that hay is vital for rabbits and being able to buy in bulk at the end of the summer will ensure we have plenty stored away for late spring and early summer when supplies become low. It will also allow me to sleep well at night knowing that the rabbits won't run out!!!
With all this work planned we really will need to recruit further animal care volunteers, prior to starting the work. Although myself and Abigail are able to cover the weekly animal care duties without volunteers, it doesn't leave any time to be building new housing. Our goal is to start in March when the weather begins to improve and be finished by August before the weather turns again. Added to this, with our new builds in place and ready to accept rabbits, our overall numbers at the rescue will increase. More rabbits equals more work and increases our need for regular volunteers. By the time we've completed our builds we will require 2 volunteers and one member of staff on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, just to get through the cleaning duties.
Rabbit Care Guide
Back in 2015, we created a rabbit care guide, available as a printed booklet and a downloadable PDF. This now urgently needs updating and reprinting to bring it up to date. We will be working on this throughout the year and hope to have it available by the beginning of winter. It's a huge amount of work and to cover the cost of printing we need to sell advertising space. This enables us to make it freely available to anyone interested in learning more about basic rabbit care and welfare. We hope to inspire owners into improving welfare for their rabbits and help those interested in rabbit ownership to fully understand what modern day rabbit ownership entails.
With the addition of covering salaries and increasing the number of rabbits we can cater for, our running costs for 2021 and beyond have skyrocketed. It wasn't an easy decision to bring paid staff into the equation, but we've been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Without enough manpower, Nibbles cannot function, and most importantly the animals are the ones which suffer. Although our top priority has always been to ensure they receive the day-to-day care they require, this means we don't handle adoption enquiries quickly and efficiently. In turn, the animals miss out on homes and the next rabbit waiting for a space doesn't get one. This is just one example of the mess we end up in without enough manpower. Our primary goal at Nibbles is to offer safe, secure and knowledgeable rescue placements to unwanted, neglected and abandoned rabbits and rodents and to provide them with the correct care and veterinary attention they need, until a new suitable home can be found. To achieve this goal we have reached the stage where paid staff are vital. If we can't raise sufficient funds to cover salaries, we'll have no option but to close Nibbles and dissolve the charity at the end of the year. I've given 6 years to Nibbles to date, and I've seen first hand the difference we've made to the animals we've been able to help. We still remain the only specialist rabbit and rodent rescue in West Wales and one of only two rescues able to correctly cater for these animals. Without Nibbles, unwanted rabbits and rodents face the uncertain future of the free ads trading site lottery, where we'll never know if they found a better home or an even worse one. Nibbles provides these animals with a secure future for life, not only in finding them suitable new homes, but also providing a backup for life policy, requiring adopters to return any animal in the event that circumstances change and they are unable to continue to care for them. The fact that we have reached the stage where we need to employ staff to care for the animals, shows just how many rabbits and rodents need help in West Wales.
It's going to be our biggest challenge to date to meet our running cost for 2022, with at least £10,000 needed by the end of this year, allowing us to head into the next. So with this in mind we're hoping to organise a number of events throughout the year. These will be lots of fun to organise and run, and we're super excited to share them with you all in due time. We hope that you will all get involved and help us raise the funds we need to keep helping rabbits and rodents for many years to come.
Get Involved with Nibbles
We really can't do what we do without your regular support. With all the changes we are making this year, that support is now more vital than ever. There are so many ways you can become a vital part of creating a brighter and happier future for an unwanted rabbit or rodent.
If you are looking for a free way to help, then you can sign up to Amazonsmile and EasyFundraising. These platforms generate free donations for Nibbles while you shop online. With so many of us now being forced to shop online, there couldn't be a better time to sign up and make a real difference, just by clicking on a different link to shop. So please please sign up!
Sign up to EasyFundraising at: https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/nibbles/
If you would like to provide a practical donation for the animals at the rescue, we have an Amazon WishList! We keep this updated each month with items running low in our store room. These donations make a huge difference to the animals and the rescue as a whole. By purchasing an item from our wish list we are able to use other funds to pay for vet fees for both routine and non routine treatment. You can always find this list at: The rabbits and rodents love to receive your gifts!