Domesticated Rabbits Are Not
Meant For The Wild!
If you ever find yourself
wondering if your rabbit would be "happier" if you turned it loose in
the wild, please bear in mind that a wild
rabbit comes camouflaged to blend in with his habitat. What color is
your rabbit? I actually know someone who used to release her
"extra" rabbits into the wild, without giving any thought
to the fact that a black and white domestic rabbit was going to be
very easily spotted by predators.
What's more, the rabbit's babies
will be a virtual smorgasbord for stray cats, hawks, etc. They will
be more visible than wild rabbits and too small to defend themselves
at all and even too small to be able to cover as much ground as an adult
when running for cover. This same person told me she cried whenever
the neighbors cat killed one of her bunnies. Clearly, this is a case
of someone having good intentions but poor insights.
Need another reason for not
releasing into the wild? Think about the environment you are
releasing the rabbit into. For example, the person mentioned above
was releasing domestic rabbits into an environment inhabited by jack
rabbits. If you've ever watched a jack rabbit, then you know they are
much larger, much better at detecting approaching intruders, and
very, very fast. Domestic rabbits more closely resemble "bush
bunnies" which depend on thickets and dense brush to hide from
predators. Clearly the domestic rabbits were ill suited for the
habitat into which she was releasing them.
Next, consider how you
would cope, released suddenly "into the wild" -- or your
dog or cat. An animal accustomed to being cared for by humans does
not instantly adjust to the dangers and challenges that it's wild
cousins have grown up coping with from birth. (For one thing they
had the advantage of
watching their mother and older siblings example.)
Lastly, there is the
environmental impact of releasing domesticated animals into a wild
habitat. Habitat destruction, competition with native species-- all
may result from introducing a non-native domesticated animal. Just
by turning your domestic rabbit loose in the wild, you could be
contributing to the extinction of native species. Other species
throughout the food web, both plant and animal, predator and prey, will
bear the impact as well.
In short, be a responsible pet
owner. Spay and neuter your pets and/or find responsible loving homes
for their offspring. And if you truly must "get rid" of them, visit
your local animal shelter or humane society. They will treat your
rabbit with tender loving care and put it up for adoption.
And remember, although with
some shelters their is a risk of your animal being "put down"
or "put to sleep" if never adopted,
your rabbit will still have much better odds of survival than if you
release it into the wild. And what's more, being put to sleep is
still a gentler fate than being attacked by wild animals or free roaming