What’s Up, Doc?
Rabbits wind up in shelters more often than you think!
When you think of an animal shelter, what animal comes to mind? A dog wagging his tail? Maybe a cat curled up on her bed? What about a different animal with big ears, an adorable twitching nose and a distinctive hop? You know Roger, Bugs, Peter and Thumper…that’s right, RABBITS.
Over the last several years, rabbits have consistently been the third most prevalent animal brought to the Sacramento SPCA. And the numbers keep increasing: 251 rabbits in 2016, 267 in 2017 and 515 already this year – and we still have four months to go!
But why are rabbits ending up in shelters and humane societies across the country? There are a variety of reasons. Stray rabbits are often brought to the Sacramento SPCA by our animal control partners. We don’t know exactly how the rabbits end up on the streets (we asked them, but they’re not telling!), but we assume it could be a combination between outdoor rabbits escaping their yard and abandonment by their owners. Rabbits are excellent diggers and can easily escape under a fence to run free.
Another reason the bunnies keep increasing? Accidental (and non-accidental) litters! You’ve heard the saying “breeding like rabbits” – well, it’s true! Reaching sexual maturity at around 4 months of age, a female rabbit’s gestation period is only 30 days and she can become pregnant immediately after giving birth. These litters can range from 4 to 12 babies, meaning a pair of bunnies can quickly become a family of 14!
Did you know? A group of rabbits is called a colony or fluffle!
The Sacramento SPCA offers spay and neuter for rabbits in order to help prevent these fluffles from taking over! We also spay and neuter all adoptable rabbits prior to placement (or once they reach maturity if they are too young).
We also see a higher number of rabbits being surrendered to the shelter around Easter, as they are sometimes given as gifts. Although cute and fuzzy, pet rabbits do require daily care and socialization to become happy and healthy members of a family. Once the excitement wears off, families may realize that they aren’t quite ready for this long-term commitment and surrender them to their nearest shelter.