ORLANDO, Fla. – With an army of volunteers and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for support, an Orlando rescue group evicted almost two dozen rabbits last week from an Azalea Park neighborhood that was overrun with domesticated bunnies.
Forty volunteers from Orlando Rabbit Care and Adoptions captured 23 rabbits Friday, ranging in age from just a few weeks old to adults. They believe at least two of the female rabbits are expecting.
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Residents believe the rabbit colony grew from rabbits dumped by people who couldn’t take care of them. When News 6 first reported the story in March, it was believed there were 30 to 50 rabbits roaming the neighborhood. ORCA says neighbors told them that several were killed by suspected poisoning. They also heard that breeders came to the neighborhood to trap some rabbits for themselves.
Rabbit rescues across Florida have been inundated with rabbits given up or dumped by owners unable to care for them. The problem is domesticated rabbits cannot survive in the wild. Wild rabbits are bigger and slimmer and know how to burrow or hide to escape prey and the elements. Domesticated rabbits do not.
OCSO Deputy Justin Sorrell (left) and Corporal Evan Avila (right) were on hand Friday night for a bunny rescue in Azalea Park organized by the Orlando Rabbit Care & Adoptions. Since last year, the east Orange County neighborhood has seen a huge influx of rabbits. pic.twitter.com/ZekWk7RpBa— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) April 4, 2022
In the first two months of 2022, ORCA received requests to rescue 130 rabbits. ORCA is the only rabbit rescue in the area. Orange County Animal Services and Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando do not take in rabbits.
ORCA has set up a temporary space to house the rabbits and is getting them medical attention. The space is not air-conditioned, however, and the group is still hunting for a more long-term space as well as foster homes for the rabbits.
Orlando Rabbit Care and Rescue is asking for help finding that long-term space. If you can help, email the rescue at info@OrlandoRabbit.org.
If you would like to learn how to foster a rabbit, head to the Orlando Rabbit Care and Adoptions website and learn what it takes.
ORCA says getting a rabbit is a 10-year commitment that can be expensive to care for. With Easter coming up, many people will buy rabbits for children, but the rescue says rabbits are not a “starter pet” and are not very good pets for children. If you are interested in getting a rabbit, ORCA prefers you contact them and learn more about rabbits and fostering first.