Overpopulation wasn’t a worry for Diana Royea when she rescued two neglected rabbits from the Eastern Townships last October.
It wasn’t long, however, before Mummy Bun gave birth to seven bunnies and Marmalade had quintuplets. Now, finding permanent homes for the new bunnies looks like the only option after her pet community peaked three weeks ago at 14 rabbits, two guinea pigs, a cat and a german shepherd.
But Royea isn’t giving them up that easily. “Most of all, I want to see if people are responsible,” said Royea, a Concordia student who has been posting her message on the internet and around the Loyola campus.
“I don’t want [the rabbits] to end up in the same situation as those in the animal shelters – they’d just kill them,” Royea said, lamenting the fact that many shelters, including the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, euthanize homeless pets if they are not claimed in within 60 days.
The spare bedroom of Royea’s four and a half apartment in the South Shore has been turned into a miniature animal sanctuary where the grey, black and white rabbits are currently living in separate wire cages.
“At least two of them are Easter bunnies,” said Royea, stroking and tickling a bunny she held in her arms. “People buy rabbits for Easter and desert them in June or July, but [the bunnies] don’t have the instinct to survive.”
She stressed that adopting a rabbit is a long-term commitment since they have a life span of five to 10 years and adopters should think seriously before making their decision. Even kids may ignore a cuddly bunny after the initial thrill of having a pet wears off.
And if one rabbit is a responsibility, 14 is a real handful. “It’s not bad if you have two, but more than five take a lot of time out of studying,” Royea said.
There’s also more to caring for the rabbits than hours of maintenance. Her monthly bills have doubled since the pet population exploded: $300 a month on pellets, vegetables, hay and litter boxes, as well as occasional veterinary examinations. “I’m a full-time student, and I just can’t afford it,” she said.
Royea stressed that bunnies are not boring pets, and are actually pretty smart. “Rabbits are more interactive than you might expect,” she said. “They’re not as sophisticated as dogs, but you can train them to do lots of stuff.”
She also said that rabbits are cleaner than many other pets, and they don’t need the space that other animals require. “There’s not a whole lot of maintenance with them, they’re kind of like cats. You can train them to use the litter box and let them free in your house or apartment if you want,” she added.
Royea charges a small fee of $10 per rabbit because she fears that some impulsive adopters might neglect to care for them if they are giveaways. She’s also trying to weed out snake breeders, who often take the rabbits as free food.
So far, six bunnies have been adopted and Royea has kept in touch with the adopters via e-mail, providing consultation and receiving updates about them.
“They’re so cute and I’m still attached to them.”
If you’re interested in adopting a bunny, please e-mail Diana Royea at email@example.com