RAB005: Diffusion fumigation of rabbit warrens

Fumigation of rabbit warrens is used to minimise the impact of the introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on agricultural production and the environment. Other rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren and harbour destruction, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis.

Fumigation involves the introduction of toxic fumes into a warren where it is inhaled by rabbits leading to their death. There are two types of fumigation: pressure fumigation, in which the fumigant gases or vapours are generated outside the warren and forced into the warren under pressure, usually from a pump and; diffusion fumigation, where tablets are placed in active burrows and the gas generated is allowed to diffuse through the warren.

Diffusion fumigation is commonly carried out using phosphine gas. Warrens are treated with aluminium phoshide tablets which liberate phosphine gas on exposure to atmospheric or soil moisture. Phosphine is a systemic poison which depresses the central nervous system and respiratory function. It is highly toxic to humans; therefore operators performing warren fumigation must take adequate precautions to safeguard against accidental exposure.

This standard operating procedure (SOP) is a guide only; it does not replace or override the legislation that applies in the relevant State or Territory jurisdiction. The SOP should only be used subject to the applicable legal requirements (including OH&S) operating in the relevant jurisdiction.

Author Sharp, T.
Year 2012
Pages 6
Notes RAB005
Control method Fumigation
Region Australia - national
Documents RAB005: Diffusion fumigation of rabbit warrens  [560 kb PDF]
Secondary title Standard Operating Procedure