They are cute but … they breed like .. well Rabbits!
As a young boy living in the Natal Midlands, a farming community, I decided to do a bit of my own farming having read somewhere that there was money to be had in raising Chinchillas. The fur of the Chinchilla is particularly soft and was popular for making fur coats and the serial entrepreneur in me saw a chance for a lucrative business.
Short of start-up capital I decided to kick off the business breeding rabbits that were a dime a dozen. Their meat was popular and there had to be a market for the fur and in time I would be able to afford a breeding pair of chinchillas. And so began the nightmare. Rabbits breed, well, rabbits breed like rabbits.
Long before I could establish a market for my new found business my two breeding pairs were doing what they were best at, breeding. And do they breed! But worse than breed, rabbits are the Houdini’s of the animal kingdom. It doesn’t matter what you do to secure their warren or hutch, they will dig, eat, kick , jump or squeeze themselves to freedom. And being free does not diminish their sexual desires for in no time I had more rabbits in our garden than in captivity.
I was reminded of this introduction to the world of rabbits by a post I saw on Facebook recently (yes I do occasionally visit that horrible media format that seems to rule the lives of so many). Jacques Pretorious, from Esprits Doggie Retreat, on the Oyster Bay Road it seems is experiencing my nightmare of 60 years ago. His property has recently been invaded by rabbits and it appears these rabbits are from somewhere in the neighbourhood and were either released or, more likely, demonstrated their Houdini attributes and escaped into the wild.
Jacques, who prides himself on a beautiful garden that he has spent thousands of Rands on, now has half a dozen or more adults and a host of new born bunnies, hopping around, destroying his garden.
This is a ticking time bomb for Jacques has seen other rabbits in the undergrowth in the area.
Whilst we make light of it, it is in fact a serious situation for all one need do is read the history of a few dozen rabbits introduced into Australia in the 18th Century that grew into a population of some 10 billion before a myoxma virus was introduced in the 1950’s that effectively reduced the rabbit population.
St Francis Animal Rescue(SFAR) has now been called in to assist with curtailing the rabbit explosion before it starts. SFAR’s
Sue Rae Fox had this to say. “We have supplied Jaques with a trap to catch the rabbits and Nerine (Aloe Veterinary Clinic) has offered to sterilize them. Our plan was that once sterilized, the rabbits could go to an animal sanctuary. After approaching the six sanctuaries between JBay and Port Elizabeth none were interested in taking our rabbits, sterilized or not. We will thus have other recourse than to trap Jacque’s rabbits and having them euthansed. However, that doesn’t eliminate the problem of all the other rabbits roaming this area for there are not enough predators to control their numbers. Farmers and residents in this area are going to have to work together to resolve what could become a very real feral rabbit problem very soon.”
Far too many people are buying bunnies from pet shops for their kids and then ‘dumping’ rabbits once they are fully grown. Before you think what a cute gift, think full size rabbit and the consequence of caring for it in the future. In short don’t buy these cute bundles of fluff from pet shops or anywhere else. And if you do make sure you have the money to have them sterilised.