Abandoned pet incidents have hit a stark three-year high in Oxfordshire, the RSPCA has warned.

The animal welfare charity released new data today indicating a spike in abandonments during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

In Oxfordshire, the charity predicts 138 reports of animal abandonment this year, a significant 17 per cent increase from 2020.

So far this year, up to the end of October, the RSPCA has received 17,838 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales.

Projecting the same trend, there could be 21,417 reports by the end of 2023, a 32.9 per cent rise from the 16,118 reports in 2020.

Oxford Mail: Barry the ball python was left in a box next to a binBarry the ball python was left in a box next to a bin (Image: RSPCA)

The situation reflects an uptick compared to the numbers reported in 2021 (17,179) and 2022 (19,645).

Dermot Murphy, who leads the RSPCA frontline rescue teams, said: "The combined effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis has created a perfect storm - and means we expect more animals than ever will need our help this year.

"Abandonment calls to our emergency line are now at a three-year high, as we respond to an increasing number of animals being given up and dumped."

He expressed deep concern regarding the shocking statistics which represent thousands of vulnerable animals, each in urgent need of help.

He added: "We’re desperately concerned about the coming winter months in Oxfordshire.

"Abandonments have soared and many rescue centres are full to bursting, so we are facing an unprecedented winter crisis."

To add to the bleak forecast, the RSPCA expects the rescue teams to have their busiest Christmas, with neglect and abandonment predicted to skyrocket.

Earlier this month, a ball python snake named Barry was found abandoned in Oxford, with information on the box about the animal's breeding and health.

The reptile, found by a bin in Rivermead Nature Park, was then transferred to a specialist exotics centre by an RSPCA inspector.

Abandoned snakes often end up in RSPCA's care as owners fail to cater to their care and health needs.

Mr Dermot emphasised the need for public support.

Oxford Mail: Abandoned guinea pigs at the RSPCA centre Abandoned guinea pigs at the RSPCA centre (Image: RSPCA)

He said: "For nearly 200 years, the RSPCA has been working tirelessly to bring animals to safety and give them the expert treatment and compassion they deserve.

"We’ll continue to do so for as long as we’re needed but we can’t do that without the support of fellow animal lovers."

The RSPCA is asking supporters to help their rescue teams this year, by joining the Christmas Rescue by making donations to reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them.

If you have an animal which needs rehoming, you can contact RSPCA Oxfordshire on 07887 475401 with details of the pet.