SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The visage of a rabbit suffering from papilloma can be quite shocking, with growths sprouting from the animal’s face and head. Those who see such a creature may react with horror or sympathy, but that leaves the question, what should they do?
According to Sioux Falls Police Animal Control Supervisor Julie Lindstrom, there isn’t really much to do.
“If someone sees a rabbit with the black tumors on its head or neck it is not a concern for Animal Control unless the animal doesn’t appear to be able to hop or eat,” Lindstrom said. “There is no rehabilitation for wild rabbits with this disease and unfortunately if the animal is found to be suffering it will be humanely euthanized.”
Some comfort to those put off by the animals should be the fact that this virus cannot transfer to dogs, cats or humans, though Lindstrom advises keeping pet rabbits indoors, as it can spread to domesticated rabbits and jackrabbits, though it is most common in cottontails.
If you encounter a dead rabbit on your property, diseased or not, the disposal method recommended by Lindstrom is surprisingly simple.
“If you find a dead rabbit, whether it has the tumorous growths or not, it is fine to double bag it and throw it in the trash,” Lindstrom said simply. “People should wear disposable gloves when handling live or dead rabbits and wash their hands well when they are done.”
Another source of comfort to everyone should be the fact that this does not appear to be the start of some sort of rabbit virus outbreak. “We receive a few reports of this every year in Sioux Falls,” said Lindstrom. “We haven’t seen any drastic increases or trends in the number of rabbits with the disease.”