About Rabbits

European Rabbit – (Oryctolagus Cuniculus)

 

Rabbits are one of Australia’s major agricultural and environmental animal pests costing between $600 million and $1 billion annually. They compete with native animals, destroy the landscape and are a primary cause of soil erosion by preventing regeneration of native vegetation.

Rabbits have played a role in the reduced numbers and extinction of many native animals by competing for food and burrow space. In drought times rabbits climb trees to forage on the foliage and often ringbark trees in their search for moisture.

Rabbits are destroying many of our native plants. They eat seedlings and can kill 2.5 metre to 3.5 metre high shrubs by ring-barking them.
Overgrazing by rabbits removes the plant cover and contributes to soil erosion. The rabbit remains a major pest, constantly threatening to outbreak in plague proportions in response to beneficial climatic and other environmental changes.

The rabbit is a Class 2 declared pest animal and is a prohibited pet in Queensland. It is considered a key threatening process in Australia and, for this reason, the Federal Department of the Environment and Heritage has developed a Threat Abatement Plan for rabbits.

Rabbit warrenThe Importance of the Warren.
Rabbits require green feed and cool temperatures to breed. If the temperature is above 29oC then the females cannot produce sufficient milk for their young.

Rabbits can keep cool in warrens or under things like sheds.

An understanding of the biology of rabbits highlights the importance of warrens. By destroying warrens, rabbit reproduction and survival is much reduced.

Rabbits are a major environmental and agricultural pest. Impact on agricultural production is greatest in drier areas where pasture production is low and rabbits can increase to high densities and compete with stock for grazing pasture. In higher rainfall areas, rabbits can be more easily managed and are seen as a moderately expensive nuisance.

The impact of rabbits on native animals and plants is becoming increasingly recognised, and includes competition with many native animals for food and shelter and damage to native vegetation through ringbarking, grazing and browsing.

The key to the success of the rabbit in Australia is the warren, which provides protection from weather and predators and enables rabbits to inhabit semi-arid and arid country. As rabbits do not dig new warrens readily, the most effective and long-term form of rabbit management is usually through destruction of warren networks with rippers mounted on bulldozers.

Amazing Rabbit Breeding Facts

Rabbits breed from 3-4 months of age,
Rabbits are pregnant for 30 days and give birth to litters of 4-7 young,
A mature female rabbit can be continuously pregnant for between 6-8 months per year under favourable conditions,
A single pair of rabbits can produce 30-40 young per year.

The Darling Downs–Moreton Rabbit Board Fence protects some of the state’s most productive agricultural land from the devastation caused by rabbits.

Further information about the rabbit is available from:

Managing Vertebrate Pests. Rabbits Bureau of Resource Sciences and CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology – 1995 (PDF, 1342 kB)

This publication provides land managers with ‘best practice’ national guidelines for managing the agricultural and environmental damage caused by rabbits.

Rabbit fact sheet (PDF, 97 kB)
Rabbit control in Queensland: A guide for land managers (PDF, 2.59 mB)
Pet rabbits: the most common illegal pet fact sheet (PDF, 84 kB)
Prohibited pets fact sheet (PDF, 246 kB)
History of barrier fences in Queensland fact sheet (PDF, 123 kB)
Rabbit Strategy (PDF, 471 kB)
Queensland Pest Animal Strategy 2002–06 (PDF, 388 kB)
Conventional Rabbit Control – Costs and Tips (PDF, 849kB)
Vertebrate pests of built-up areas pest status assessment (PDF, 376 kB)

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Damage caused by Rabbits.

Rabbit or Hare?

Rabbits and hares are roughly cat-sized animals but with very short tails.
Both are coloured a brindled brown above and white below.
They have long powerful hind legs giving the animals a fast turn of speed.
Their very large ears catch every sound and can move independently from one another which enables them to listen in two directions at once. They also provide a large surface area which catches more sound waves.

Rabbit.

DDMRB - Photo of a Rabbit

How do I spot the difference?

 

Here are some tips to help you tell a rabbit and a hare apart:

Hares are considerably larger than rabbits with a head and body length of 55 cm as opposed to 40 cm for rabbits. Did you know that a hare can weigh twice as much as a rabbit – approximately 6lbs, compared to 3lbs for a rabbit?
Hares are rather more golden-brown in colour, rabbits greyer.
The hind legs of hares are relatively larger and they can run faster than rabbits
Hares have relatively longer ears than rabbits and these have distinct black tips – those of rabbits don’t.
Look at their tails – in both species the upper surface is black, the lower white. When disturbed, hares hold their tails low so that the black upper surface shows but rabbits cock theirs up to show the white under surface as a general alarm signal. These can often be seen when rabbits are scuttling for shelter.
Hares tend to lead solitary lives except when breeding, but rabbits live in groups.

 

Footprints

 

footprint

 

Approximately a quarter of actual size. (Scale 1:4)