How residents of a small N.S. town have embraced its feral rabbits

·3 min read
Dozens of rabbits have made their home on and around Pleasant Street in Bridgewater, N.S., for years. These two are called Peter and Petra. (Erika Benvie - image credit)
Dozens of rabbits have made their home on and around Pleasant Street in Bridgewater, N.S., for years. These two are called Peter and Petra. (Erika Benvie - image credit)

No one knows for sure when, or why, rabbits started showing up on the streets of Bridgewater, N.S.

Some say a former resident released rabbits many years ago, and, well, the rabbits did what rabbits are known to do — they multiplied.

Now, there are dozens of bunnies living on and around Pleasant Street, a quiet, dead-end road that has since been nicknamed Bunny Street.

Brandy Cole lives nearby and became concerned when her husband spotted a wee rabbit, just about six weeks old, hiding in some bushes on their property while he was mowing the lawn this summer.

"He kind of just gave me a look. And then from there, I knew that we were keeping this bunny," she told the CBC's Mainstreet Halifax.

Brandy Cole
Brandy Cole

Cole's husband built a hutch for that rabbit and second one they found in their yard, and they named them Buster and Scout. Then, Cole learned from a neighbour that they were part of a larger litter but their siblings had been killed, likely by a stray cat.

That's when she decided to go on a mission.

"I know they shouldn't be outside, and I know they deserve a home inside where they can, you know, be happy and cared for and not have to worry about predators and getting hit by a vehicle or poor weather conditions. They kind of just took over my heart."

Cole started Two Tails Feral Rabbit Rescue, and encouraged people to let her know if they found bunnies or burrows, and she would try to find homes for them.

But the rabbits had already won over the hearts of many others in the neighbourhood, too.

Brandy Cole
Brandy Cole

Guy Doucette has been living on Pleasant Street for three years, and said the rabbits are beloved residents who are doted on by seniors and children. People have built shelters for them and give them hay, pellets and water, and Doucette takes the rabbits to the vet if they get sick.

"I'm sure there's a few people that, you know, don't like their hostas being eaten here and there, right, and find them a nuisance. But I would say generally, the street really loves them and they provide a lot of companionship."

Erika Benvie
Erika Benvie

So, when some in the community found out that Cole was planning to find new homes for the rabbits, the bunny backlash began.

"Well, I was not happy," said Erika Benvie, who has been delighted by the rabbits for years. "It stirred up a lot of emotions with everyone."

Some Bridgewater residents spoke with Cole and explained that the rabbits were already well cared for.

Now, Cole is planning to focus her rescue on other areas of the town with feral rabbits, including some babies who were found at an apartment complex.

"We have started to work out some small plans to kind of go forward and educate one another and work with one another just for the livelihood of these rabbits," Cole said.

Doucette said the rabbits just make people happy.

"It's hard to look at a rabbit and not have a smile come to your face, you know, when they're stretched out in the sun or, you know, hopping around playing with each other.

"I think especially here on the street, since they've been here for so long that they're part of the street's history that people … want to protect that and worry about perhaps something that's so, kind of, magical coming to an end."

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