A couple were forced to call in the RSPCA after their three rampant rabbits produced nearly 60 babies – in less than a year.
Stunned Sarah and Andrew Allen introduced their randy male Snowy to females Jess and Sparkles in February last year because he was looking ”lonely”.
They were delighted when they began producing litters and dutifully looked after the brood – until it multiplied to 50 within months.
Their back garden in Cheltenham, Glos., was overrun with hutches and the pets were munching their way through 75kg of food every week and using #90 of straw.
But when the numbers peaked at 60 in nine litters, Sarah and Andrew, 28, realised they needed help and called in the RSPCA.
It took two vans and a car to transport most of the litter to a Cheltenham vet surgery, where they are all due to undergo a mass neutering session.
Sarah, 23, said the couple were devastated to give their grey and white pets away but could not cope with looking after so many bunnies.
She said: ”We knew rabbits breed, well, like rabbits, but we had no idea there would be so many.
”We first got Jess and Sparkles for Snowy because he was looking lonely and we thought he needed some friends.
”It was a nice surprise after the first litter but then more and more babies kept being born. It was very hard work looking after them all.
”It’s obviously upsetting because they were all our pets at the end of the day and we loved them all dearly.
”But it is going to be a lot easier to care for them and bring the costs down, which will help us.”
The couple now have just 14 rabbits left – as 46 have been taken by the charity – and look after them along with their two goldfish and two guinea pigs.
The breeding season for most rabbits last for nine months from February to October, and the normal gestation period is just 30 days.
A female rabbit, or doe, is ready to breed aged around six months, while a male rabbit, or buck, can reproduce from seven months.
Dating and mating for rabbits lasts just 30 seconds and they produce between four and 12 babies in each litter.
RSPCA Cheltenham chairman Lorraine Kirkham said it was unusual for rabbits to breed so quickly in such a short amount of time.
She said: ”They came to us for help and we organised a rescue mission.
”It’s unusual as far as we are aware for this many rabbits to breed this quickly, but we don’t know how many people are out there trying to cope with a situation like this.”
”They haven’t done anything wrong, the circumstances just ran away from them.
”All the rabbits are in good condition, they have looked after them well – they just needed more space.
”They just couldn’t cope. Nobody could cope with that many rabbits.”
Anyone who is having problems with out-of-control breeding in their domestic rabbits can call Cheltenham RSPCA for help and advice on 01242 239919.