Florida neighborhood hopping with lionhead rabbit invasion | Florida [wafact]

Dozens of feral rabbits are driving some residents of a Florida neighborhood hopping mad after the furry creatures that were let loose are taking over the streets and are multiplying like – rabbits.

In the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, there’s a new “invasive species” to contend with in a state all too familiar with the destructive habits of non-native animals. These include Burmese pythons and the iguanas that can voraciously consume their way to local wildlife dominance, as well as lionfish and giant African snails.

The rabbits of Jenada Isles, an 81-home community in Wilton Manors on the outskirts of the south Florida city are also voracious, apparently, when it comes to chewing on outdoor wiring and similar unwelcome targets, as well as the food fed to them by locals trying to deal with the small-scale invasion.

The estimated 60 to 100 rabbits are descendants of a group a backyard breeder illegally let loose when she moved away two years ago and they are lionhead rabbits, named after the furry flowing mane around their heads.

Jenada Isles resident Alicia Griggs is spearheading efforts to raise the thousands it would cost for a rescue group to capture, neuter, vaccinate, shelter and then give the bunnies away to good homes.

They otherwise face running the gauntlet of cars, cats, hawks, oppressive Florida heat – and possibly government-hired exterminators.

Whichever way, the runaway rabbits are not an easy problem to solve. “People don’t realize they’re exotic pets and they’re complicated. They have a complicated digestive system and they have to eat a special diet,” said Griggs, a real estate agent. “You can’t just throw any table scraps at them.”

The city commission voted in April to exterminate the visitors after receiving an $8,000 estimate from a trapping company, but that has not happened yet.

The vote came after some residents complained the lionheads dig holes, chew outdoor wiring and leave droppings on sidewalks and driveways.

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City commissioners also feared the rabbits could spread into neighboring communities and cities and become a traffic hazard if they ventured onto major streets.

The problem remains under discussion.

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