European rabbit

European rabbits are Australia’s most widespread and destructive environmental and agricultural vertebrate pest.

First arriving in Australia with the First Fleet, then deliberately released for hunting in the 1800’s, the rate of spread of the rabbit in Australia was the fastest of any colonising mammal anywhere in the world. They are now found in all states and territories, including several offshore islands.

Rabbits graze on native and introduced vegetation, crops and pastures. Rabbit grazing can prevent seedlings from regenerating and reduce crop yields, as well as increase competition for feed with livestock. Rabbits damage native plants and directly compete 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.

There are at least 304 Australian threatened species that may be adversely affected by competition and land degradation by rabbits.

 

Boosting rabbit biocontrol: RHDV K5 national release    arrow-right


Learn More arrow-right

Act

STEP 1

Identify rabbits and their impacts

STEP 2

Plan your strategy

STEP 3

Effective rabbit control

STEP 4

Monitor and evaluate

Best practice rabbit management is more than just controlling  rabbits. It requires a structured and consistent strategic plan of  action using the range of tools available to achieve long-term and  cost-effective outcomes.

  • RabbitHistorical Historical and current impacts of rabbits – a farmers perspective - David Lord discusses the historical and current impacts of rabbits on farms, how important it is to act and how rabbit biological controls have played an important role.
  • RabbitCommunity Community led integrated rabbit management - Michael Reid, National Rabbit Facilitator, talks about the importance of community-led integrated rabbit management to protect productive landscapes.
  • Image: Rick Nash Decision Support Systems for rabbit management - Tools to support decisions on funding allocation for rabbit management in public lands, & cost-benefits of alternative control protocols on primary production land
  • Rabbits_web Vertebrate Pesticides: An Australian Guide - This project has produced a publication containing relevant information on all the currently registered vertebrate pesticides in Australia
  • rabbit-placeholder Planning landscape-scale rabbit control - Covers important factors to consider in developing community-based rabbit control programs within the framework of natural resource management boards and their equivalents
  • RabbitGBG_cover Glovebox Guide for Managing Rabbits - Current information on best practice rabbit management for land managers, pest animal officers and others involved in the management of rabbits
  • Lisa-Thomas-rabbit-fumigate Fumigation for rabbit control - Fumigation is a valuable tool in successful rabbit management programs.
  • WarrenRippingVid Warren ripping for rabbit control - Video demonstrating warren ripping using a single tyne ripper for rabbit control.
  • rippers on Cat D5 with winged points Warren and harbour destruction - Introduction A strategic rabbit control program that features warren and harbour destruction is the most cost-effective way to reduce rabbit populations and prevent ongoing damage, particularly when applied over large, semi-arid areas. Rabbits can survive by building extensive underground warrens or using above-ground shelter, such as lantana or blackberry bushes. With good planning and coordination, […]
  • 57 1080 dyed carrot rabbit bait contrast with undyed David Croft Poison baiting for rabbit control - Introduction Poison baiting is often a logical first step in an integrated program of rabbit management. However, if used alone, baiting provides only short-term control and is therefore best used as a means of reducing rabbit numbers before carrying out other controls such as warren destruction1. In some situations baiting may be the only immediately feasible solution to a problem, such as […]
  • Glen Elgin RHD release Using RHDV for rabbit control - Introduction Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), previously known as calicivirus or rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD), has been highly effective in reducing rabbit populations across most of Australia. The virus that causes RHD (called rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus or RHDV) is spread through rabbit-to-rabbit contact and by insect carriers (eg flies and mosquitoes). In arid and semi-arid […]
  • Competition and land degradation by rabbits – Threat Abatement Plan - This threat abatement plan (TAP) establishes a national framework to guide and coordinate Australia?s response to the impacts of rabbits on biodiversity. It identifies the research, management and other actions needed to ensure the long-term maintenance of native species and ecological communities affected by competition and land degradation caused by rabbits. It replaces the threat […]
  • BRS_Booklet_cover_sm Rabbits: a threat to conservation and natural resource management - Quick assessment method to help you decide if rabbits are a problem and what action you need to take
  • rabbit-placeholder Monitoring techniques for vertebrate pests – Rabbits - The purpose of this manual is to provide details of the techniques available for monitoring rabbits in australia. By providing a step-by-step description of each technique, it will be possible to standardise many monitoring programs and make valid comparisons of abundance and damage across the nation. This is becoming increasingly important for the states, territories […]
  • rabbit-placeholder Conventional Rabbit Control: Costs and Tips - Discusses the keys to long term successful rabbit control including warren ripping, costs of warren ripping, poisoning, fumigation, explosives and other control techniques

Standard Operating Procedures – rabbit control

  • rabbit-placeholder RAB010: Bait delivery of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) - Background Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) 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 destruction, surface harbour removal, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with myxomatosis. RHDV causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), an acute, highly contagious […]
  • PestSmart_logo GEN003: Trapping using soft net traps - Soft net traps consist of a flexible metal frame and netting and/or bag which collapses over the animal when triggered. Soft net traps rely on entanglement to secure and hold the targeted animal, potentially reducing the risk of injury. Soft net traps are used to trap feral and nuisance domestic cats and dogs, foxes, birds […]
  • rabbit-placeholder RAB003: Aerial baiting of rabbits with 1080 - Poisoning with 1080 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 with pindone, warren fumigation, warren and harbourage destruction, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis. Poisoning with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080) […]
  • RAB004: Ground baiting of rabbits with pindone - Poisoning with pindone 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 with 1080, warren destruction, warren fumigation, surface harbour removal, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis. Poisoning with pindone is […]
  • 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 […]
  • RAB006: Rabbit Warren destruction by ripping - Warren destruction by ripping 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 destruction using explosives, warren fumigation, surface harbour removal, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis. In many areas […]
  • RAB007: Rabbit warren destruction using explosives - Warren destruction with explosives 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 destruction using ripping, surface harbour removal, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis. In many areas of Australia, […]
  • RAB008: Trapping of rabbits using padded-jaw traps - The introduced European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has a significant impact on agricultural production and the environment. Rabbit control methods include poisoning, warren fumigation, warren and harbourage destruction, biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis, shooting, trapping and exclusion fencing. Trapping is not considered an effective or efficient rabbit control technique, although it is […]
  • RAB009: Ground shooting of rabbits - The introduced European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has a significant impact on agricultural production and the environment. Rabbit control methods include poisoning, rabbit fumigation, warren and harbourage destruction, biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) and myxomatosis, shooting, trapping and exclusion fencing. Shooting of rabbits is undertaken by government vertebrate pest control officers, landholders and professional […]
  • RAB001: Inoculation of rabbits with rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) - Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) 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 destruction, surface harbour removal, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with myxomatosis. RHDV causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), an acute, highly contagious disease […]
  • RAB002: Ground baiting of rabbits with 1080 - Poisoning with 1080 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 with pindone, warren fumigation, warren and harbour destruction, shooting, trapping, exclusion fencing and biological control with rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and myxomatosis. Poisoning with sodium monofluoroacetate […]
  • HAR001: Ground shooting of hares - The introduced European brown hare (Lepus capensis) is not regarded as a major pest of agriculture and the environment. However, in localised areas it can cause damage by eating crops, destroying seedlings and gnawing the bark off trees and vines in orchards, plantations and vineyards. Shooting is the principle method of control, as hares are […]
  • PestSmart_logo GEN001: Methods of euthanasia - The word euthanasia means an easy death and should be regarded as an act of humane killing with the minimum of pain, fear and distress. Euthanasia of a range of animal species is often necessary during pest animal control programs and occasionally in research involving the capture or restraint of pest animals. Therefore, all researchers […]
  • rabbit-placeholder Model code of practice for the humane control of rabbits - The aim of this code of practice is to provide information and recommendations to vertebrate pest managers responsible for the control of rabbits. It includes advice on how to choose the most humane, target specific, cost effective and efficacious technique for reducing the negative impact of rabbits. This code of practice (COP) is a guide […]

Connect

MichaelReid_headshotMichael Reid is the National Rabbit Facilitator. Michael’s role is to support strategic research in community engagement and provide advice to facilitate more effective community-led action on rabbit management across Australia.
Michael is based in Wodonga, Vic and can be contacted at:
Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources
1 McKoy St  |  Wodonga, Victoria 3690
Phone:   02 60437975   |  Email: michael.reid@ecodev.vic.gov.au  |    twitter-2 @pestrabbit


Videos

Case studies

Research reports

  • rabbit-placeholder Maximising the potential of improved biological control for rabbits - Project to collect current information on the abundance of rabbits at select sites in WA
  • Rabbits_web Vertebrate Pesticides: An Australian Guide - This project has produced a publication containing relevant information on all the currently registered vertebrate pesticides in Australia
  • Rabbits_WesternNSW Rabbit Resurgence: Minimising Future Economic and Biodiversity Losses - Demonstrations of effective ways of combating rabbits would not only enable land managers to be better prepared to handle problems in the mallee but would also provide advance information for managers in adjoining areas where rabbits could increase in the future.
  • rabbit-placeholder Victorian Rabbit Management Collaboration Initiative - Supports community-led action for more sustainable and effective rabbit management in Victoria
  • rabbit-placeholder RHD-Boost. Import and evaluate new rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) variants to strengthen rabbit biocontrol - The RHD Boost project sought to identify new RHDV variants with superior lethality to rabbits with partial protection from endemic Australian Rabbit Calicivirus (RCV-A1) and immunity and/or genetic resistance to infection with existing Australian Czech 351 derived RHDV variants. Any new RHDV strain with greater lethality in rabbits with RCV-A1 is predicted to result in […]
  • Bengsen&Cox_cover The role of rabbit and other invasive herbivore control in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions - Controlling feral animals such as rabbits, goats and camels could provide a cost-effective contribution to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions targets while also generating important benefits for agricultural productivity, regional communities and the environment.
  • rabbit-placeholder Benefits of Rabbit Biocontrol in Australia - EUROPEAN RABBITS (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are a severe continental-scale threat to Australia’s globally important biodiversity and agriculture. The extreme sensitivity of many native plant species to rabbit damage – as few as one rabbit per hectare can impede natural regeneration – has resulted in 75 nationally threatened plant species and five threatened ecological communities being at […]
  • rabbit-placeholder Planning landscape-scale rabbit control - Covers important factors to consider in developing community-based rabbit control programs within the framework of natural resource management boards and their equivalents
  • Gong_coverimage The economic impacts of vertebrate pests in Australia. - Invasive animal pests have a wide variety of impacts on the economy, the environment and society. There is considerable information on these impacts for individual cases and regions, and McLeod (2004) attempted to value them nationwide for a whole range of pest animals. However, there appear to be no Australia-wide estimates of agricultural losses measured […]
  • Assessing invasive animals in Australia 2008 - Invasive animals cause enormous damage to Australia’s economy, environment and society. Assessing Invasive Animals in Australia 2008 presents, for the first time, consistent national information on the distribution and abundance of significant invasive animals in Australia. This report is the result of collaboration between the National Land & Water Resources Audit, the Invasive Animals Cooperative […]
  • CountingTheCost_cover Counting the cost: impact of invasive animals in Australia, 2004 - Feral animals cost Australia in excess of $720 million per year. They cause catastrophic damage and threaten our landscape, agriculture and industries. This report estimates the economic, environmental and social impacts of 11 introduced pest animal species (fox, feral cats, rabbit, feral pigs, wild dogs, mice, carp, feral goats, cane toads, wild horses and camels). […]
Last updated: June 28, 2016