An animal welfare charity has warned of consequences for anyone found to have abandoned an animal after six domestic rabbits were found within the space of a week in Moray.
The Scottish SPCA was alerted to four rabbits on April 14 at the side of the road in Mulben, which were caught over the following two days.
It comes after a further two rabbits were found on Monday, not far from the first location.
Scottish SPCA chief inspector Alison Simpson said: “We’d like to thank the members of the public who alerted us to these animals.
“Although we’ve been able to successfully catch the first group of rabbits, unfortunately, we have so far been unable to catch the second two that were most recently spotted.
“The first group of rabbits are now safe in the care of one of our animal rescue and rehoming centres.
“One of the does was found to be pregnant when caught and she started to give birth in the van on the journey to the centre.
“Sadly, all the babies passed away. This is very likely to have been caused by the stress of the situation the animals were found in and has directly contributed to the death of these kits.”
She added: “To dump a pregnant animal this close to giving birth is extremely callous and gives us major concerns for the wellbeing of any remaining rabbits in the area.
“We appreciate that the owners may think they are doing the best thing for the rabbits by setting them free, but these are domesticated animals who cannot fend for themselves.
“This is not the correct procedure to follow if you wish to give up an animal for rehoming.
“Leaving the rabbits out here exposed to the elements and predators is not only cruel but also illegal.”
The public is urged to contact the Scottish SPCA helpline on 03000 999 999 if anyone has any information about the rabbits left in the area.