UTAH

Humane Society saw uptick in rabbit hoarding in 2022

Dec 29, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: 4:26 pm
A bunch of rabbits were reported in the Butterfield Canyon area near Herriman, Salt Lake County Ser...
A bunch of rabbits were reported in the Butterfield Canyon area near Herriman, Salt Lake County Services says that it looks like someone just left them there. October 11, 2006 (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Humane Society of Utah reported a large number of rabbit hoarding in 2022. The shelter said rabbit hoarding has major consequences for rabbits living in that environment.

The Humane Society said the average case of rabbit surrendering involves up to four rabbits, but the shelter has seen several cases involving up to 20 at a time.

Humane Society Director of Marketing and Communications Guinn Shuster said that rabbit hoarding is often not intentional.

Rabbit breeding habits make hoarding more likely

Rabbits have fast reproducing habits that make them an easy but unintentional target for animal hoarding.

Rabbits can start reproducing at five months, with a gestation period of only about a month, where they can have up to 12 offspring in one litter.

With that high population growth rate, hoarding is a slippery slope. It can begin unintentionally but end with the animals suffering from illness, starvation and death.

“The excessive amount of rabbits is really what has been concerning for us,” Shuster said.

Rabbits adopted from pet stores or fairs are often not accurately sexed, spayed or neutered, leading to an uncontrollable amount of offspring. 

Why rabbit hoarding is dangerous

Unsterilized rabbits and unmonitored breeding can increase health risks for the animals as well.

And, separating a rabbit from its mother and litter too early can cause health issues. 

“They can develop bone problems if their diet is switched at too early of an age,” Shuster said.

And, younger rabbits can develop behavioral issues as well, making it harder for them to get adopted. 

“They can become stressed really easily and go into shock by something that might scare them that wouldn’t do so if they were older.”

Shuster said rabbit hoarding often comes from families overwhelmed with pets.

Best practices

Shuster recommended that anyone interested in adopting a rabbit, go through the Humane Society or a shelter that spays, neuters, microchips and vaccinates all pets.

And, Shuster said, the Humane Society welcomes anyone to ask questions on how to properly care for pet rabbits.

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Humane Society saw uptick in rabbit hoarding in 2022