Abandoned rabbits and guinea pigs roaming free in some Perth suburbs were “breeding like rabbits” as the onus was on volunteers to round them up before the numbers got out of hand.
the main points:
- Dozens of domestic rabbits and guinea pigs have been rescued from the outskirts of Perth in recent weeks
- Volunteers say people are throwing away their pets because of the pressures of living costs
- There are concerns that the population will quickly get out of control without intervention
For several months, residents of Karen’s northern suburbs have raised concerns about runaway pet rabbits that live freely on the streets and breed.
The scale of the problem has since become more apparent after a group of volunteers Romeo Rabbit Rescue managed to discover and remove six baby rabbits from the area, including children and pregnant women, who have since given birth to four children.
There is likely to be more, said group founder Andrea White.
“We think the owners just left and left them behind,” she said.
“They usually don’t do a good job of taking care of themselves but with all the plants to hide in and eat, they’ve survived.”
The rescue came just weeks after the group pulled a mother and six baby rabbits from the bottom of a house in Thornley, southeast of Perth.
Ms. White said the situation was not unusual.
“Unfortunately, this is very common. The term breeding like rabbits is not a myth. They can have litter and after a month they have another litter,” she said.
“It can really get out of hand quickly.”
The sex of the trapped rabbits is removed, vaccinated, micro-sifted, and repopulated.
Dumping pocket pets to rise
A guinea pig rescue group in Western Australia has also been making more and more calls about abandoned guinea pigs in recent months.
Founder Claudia Leon said the group has gone from receiving one call every six months to more than 20 in the past three months.
“I would definitely say that the increased cost of living and the rent crunch has largely led to the elimination of pocket pets,” she said.
“People can’t be picky and don’t have time to wait [to surrender them]So sometimes they are very desperate and unfortunately need to get rid of their animals.
The past six months have been difficult.”
The group works to rescue a herd of stray guinea pigs found by a local carer in Barkerville, in the Perth Hills.
Ms Lyons said the animals had taken refuge near a local restaurant and had begun breeding.
“Right now, I think we’ve saved 10 people but I think there are still others out there.”
“[The foster carer] She found babies, both female and male, so we think they were breeding there. So we’re just working on trying to find them all.”
RSPCA says “please don’t release them”
Fast-breeding animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs have long been a problem for pet owners in Perth.
In 2020, the RSPCA WA was called in to handle more than 100 rabbits on a property in Perth, and in April of this year, welfare officials removed 56 guinea pigs from the Wanneroo home.
It’s “very common” for people to end up with unwanted litter because it has been difficult to distinguish between male and female rabbits and guinea pigs, said Hannah Driver, executive director of animal and enforcement at the RSPCA.
“One of the biggest reasons we have for these types of animals to surrender is because they ended up with two of the opposite sex and they ended up with unwanted droppings,” she said.
Ms Driver said pet owners should allow a professional to determine the sex of their animals or spay them.
She warned people not to release any unwanted animals into the streets and said it was “disturbing” to hear about situations where fast-breeding animals live on the street.
“Please don’t release them into the wild,” Mrs. Driver said.
“Once they end up on the streets, they get even more out of control.”
The RSPCA will intervene in situations where there are animal welfare concerns but has urged people to report stray rabbits or guinea pigs to the local council.
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