Don’t gift real bunnies this Easter, pleads Cape Town rabbit rescue group

Rabbits are not easy pets, and have a lifespan of up to 10 years, facts many people they are gifted to only realise after Easter, resulting in them being dumped in droves.

Rabbits dumped at Durbanville Cemetery in Cape Town, a problem that becomes increasingly worse after Easter. Picture: Facebook/Durbanville Bunny Rescue

CAPE TOWN - With Easter fast approaching, people are being urged to opt for chocolate and stuffed bunnies, instead of buying and gifting others live rabbits.

The Durbanville Bunny Rescue said this time of year, after Easter festivities have simmered down, they usually see a spike in rabbits being dumped, particularly in that area.

"We have found that around the Easter time, due to the marketing of bunnies, that people do buy live bunnies as gifts. It is concerning, as the responsibility of owning a rabbit is very high. They are not just a pet you can have in the background... they need specific diets and a daily routine that needs to be kept,” said the organisation's Jocelyn Marais.

Marais said rabbits had a lifespan of between eight to ten years, and that a lot of work went into caring for them.

"After the Easter madness has calmed down, people realise that these pets are not an easy animal to have, and so there's a major influx when it comes to the dumping of bunnies. It is quite a large issue... On a regular every second day, we are seeing two to three bunnies being dumped. Owners are not doing research on how to keep a bunny and the maintenance that goes on around them."

Marais said the reason for a large population of bunnies within the vicinity of the Durbanville Cemetery is not yet clear, but it is believed they are being dumped at night.

"I also think that a lot of people have the concept of if you put the bunny in the field, they are going to live a nice long, healthy life there, because they are going to have food and be happy. But at the end of the day, these rabbits are not accustomed to the wildlife and the predators, and the sad reality is that they don't get the healthy food they are supposed to be eating. They get sunburn and broken body parts as they try to escape predators."

Marais says rabbits found in that region are domesticated, with caring dispositions.

"Once we capture them, we find that they they're very interactive with us and they have been in a home before. So, we do regular catching of the rabbits, we neuter them to avoid them breeding and overpopulation, and we try to rehome them as best as possible. We also ask that the local community get involved to assist."

Marais said the organisation can be contacted to assist with the safe rehoming of any unwanted furry friend.

The Durbanville Bunny Rescue is a public group and can be found on Facebook.