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Since arriving in Australia with the First Fleet, then deliberately released for hunting in the 1800s, European rabbits have become Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pest.
Their rate of spread is the fastest of any colonising mammal anywhere in the world. They are now found in all States and Territories, including several offshore islands.
European rabbits impact natural environments and native species as a leading threat to biodiversity. Rabbits damage native plants and compete directly with native wildlife for food and shelter. Their digging and browsing leads to a loss of vegetation cover, which in turn can result in slope instability and soil erosion.
European rabbits impact agricultural activities by reducing productivity across most enterprises, from forestry and revegetation initiatives through to viticulture, grazing and cropping. Their consumption of green feed prevents seedlings from regenerating and reduces crop yields while also reducing the feed available to livestock. Other impacts stem from their ability to damage infrastructure on both farms and peri-urban properties.
European rabbits create a social toll with evidence of psychological stress and trauma to land managers dealing with rabbit infestations on their properties and members of the public finding sick rabbits. Other primary producers may have concerns about the potential for injury to horses from falling in burrows and warrens. Rabbits can also be a threat to sites of cultural significance to First Nations people as they burrow and disturb landscapes.
To learn more you can:
RabbitScan allows you to map and monitor European rabbits, record impacts and document where control has been undertaken. It is a free resource for landholders, Landcare groups, community groups, local Councils, professional pest controllers and biosecurity groups.
You can access RabbitScan via www.rabbitscan.org.au or download the ‘FeralScan’ App and follow the rabbit prompts.
Want a quick and easy digest of management information for rabbits? Click on the thumbnail image below to download and print our glovebox guide free of charge. Use our order form for larger quantities, which can also feature your organisation’s logo. Please note that printing and postage charges will apply to most orders.
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