After rabbits were seen running loose around an Albuquerque neighborhood and neighbors reported them, the owners surrendered 169 rabbits to Bernalillo County Animal Control on Feb. 1; 11 of them ended up at Moriarty Animal Control and will be ready for adoption in the near future.
Earlier in the week, a few posts were circulating around Facebook about a large number of rabbits needing help at Bernalillo County Animal Control. “We have a Facebook group that is for animal control groups around the state, and Bernalillo County reached out for help online,” said Moriarty Animal Control Officer Chelsea Worley.
Worley said Bernalillo County was called to a house in Albuquerque that had an outdoor pen for the rabbits, which started out as four rabbits but got out of control because the males and females were penned together.
Worley said Moriarty ended up with more rabbits than they had initially planned because there were two pregnant rabbits that needed assistance, as well as babies. They are all doing OK, she said. “My hope for them is adoption.”
Worley said the rabbits need to go to their first veterinarian appointment this week, and then they will be able to assess when they will be ready for adoption.
She said many rabbits have injuries, mostly on the ears, but will heal in time. She also said most vets don’t spay or neuter rabbits, including the veterinarian that Moriarty Animal Control normally uses.
Dr. Vickie Averhoff from the Vista Larga Animal Hospital in Edgewood will spay and neuter the rabbits for the Moriarty Animal Control.
She also said East Mountain Companion Animal Project has a fundraiser set up to help cover the cost of the surgeries for the rabbits on their Facebook page, @emcompanionanimalproject.
Worley said all of the rabbits are very well adjusted considering the circumstances. She said they are friendly and not scared of people. “They are curious,” she said, adding, “I am really surprised. I would expect them to be feral since they were in an outdoor setting with little access to food and water.”
She said this was the first time that the Moriarty Animal Control has ever adopted out rabbits and they will be using the same standard as cats, meaning the rabbits will be vaccinated, and will be spayed or neutered with a pet adoption fee of $30. She said there will be an application process.
Interested persons can email Animal Control and will get the paperwork forwarded to them. She said that any person who wants to adopt one of the rabbits must understand that they may not legally breed them and the importance of that. She said they will also prioritize people who are interested as keeping them as indoor pets.
According to Larry Gallegos, spokesperson for Bernalillo County Animal Control, the rabbits were surrendered and its was “not necessarily a hoard situation.”
Gallegos said, “The neighbors reported them because there were rabbits running loose,” adding, “they had breeding rabbits that got out of control. Rabbits breed fast and have large litters. They are also very territorial and will fight if they are in an enclosed space.”
Domestic rabbits tend to wean when their young are about 21 days old and in the wild, rabbits often leave the nest around 14 days old. The doe can begin breeding immediately after weaning. One pair of rabbits can result in 250 rabbits in three generations, in a few months time.
Gallegos said the county seized over 100 rabbits and approximately 30 of them had to euthanized due to injuries that were likely from fighting. He said the county is planning to do adoptions soon and the rabbits will be spayed and neutered.
The New Mexico House Rabbit Society is accepting donations via email to help Bernalillo County keep the rabbits comfortable while they wait to be spayed, neutered and adopted. They are in need of newspaper, timothy hay, pellets, enrichment items and toys. For more information visit newmexicohrs.org or visit their Facebook page and to send a donation email email@example.com.
Rabbits have short gestation periods which last approximately 30 days. They can reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 months old and smaller breeds can reach sexual maturity as early as 4 months old. They typically have 6-12 babies per litter.