How to report rabbit numbers, disease and dead rabbits

In preparation for the release of RHDV1 K5, landholders and the community are being asked to lend a hand in developing baseline information about rabbit populations before the release, and in reporting any evidence of disease-affected rabbits in their local area. You can get involved in two ways:

  1. Record rabbit activity in your local area in August or September in RabbitScan, preferably after completing a walked or driven spotlight count of rabbit numbers.
  2. Report any evidence of rabbit disease in your local area, such as dead rabbits and rabbits with symptoms of RHD or Myxomatosis, and/or submit tissue samples if you can. 

Photo of the RabbitScan App in use

To get involved in either, visit the RabbitScan website or download the latest version of the FeralScan App (containing RabbitScan) from Apple or Google Play. If you already have the app, make sure you have installed the latest update.

1) How to conduct spotlight counts and submit your spotlight data

Conducting spotlight counts can provide an accurate measure of current rabbit numbers. Anyone can undertake spotlight counts in preparation for the national release of RHDV1 K5, however, it is particularly relevant for anyone that has expressed interest in being involved in the release of RHDV1 K5 to conduct a count in their local area. Spotlight counts should be done during the month of August or September if possible. 

Spotlight counts can be done from a vehicle or on foot using either a handheld spotlight or powerful torch. If using a vehicle, spotlight counts should be done while travelling at a uniform speed (10–15 km per hour). Both driven and walked spotlight counts need to be undertaken over a pre-determined path. The path should cover various parts of your property or area, not just where rabbits are known to occur. Counts are best performed early in the evening, usually 40 minutes after sunset. The spotlight/torch should be swept from side to side (a 180 degree sweep) and all rabbits seen should be counted. The same person should conduct the count in the same manner (walked or driven) over the same path over 3 consecutive evenings, and the total number of rabbits counted should be recorded in RabbitScan.

Once the three counts have been conducted, undertake the following:

  • Open the FeralScan App on your phone and click on the Rabbit icon.
  • Select ‘Record Rabbits’ and select ‘Enter Sighting’. 
  • When asked if this is an official RHDV1 K5 release site, please select YES.
  • Either enter your Site number (if supplied to you separately), or enter your full name in the site number field
  • Enter your 3 spotlight counts and the distance you travelled during the count
  • Then select Submit to complete the process.

Please download the FeralScan free app prior to your spotlight count. The app will not only record your precise GPS location, but will allow you to enter data while in the paddock.

For information about how to use the app to record spotlight counts, download our helpful document.

2) How to record any dead rabbits you find, and submit samples for testing

If you have found a dead rabbit or evidence of rabbit disease in your local area, please report it using the Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker. This website has been developed to enable current trends in rabbit disease to be mapped anywhere in Australia.

Anyone can get involved and you don’t need to be a registered site to report evidence of disease. Open the Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker map, zoom to your local area, click the map to select your precise location, and record your information about rabbit disease at your site.

If you wish to submit a tissue or bone sample from your dead rabbit for testing, please request a sample kit from the ‘Report Disease’ option in RabbitScan. If you request a sample kit, please label and store the sample or rabbit in a freezer until your sample kit and instructions arrive in the post (instructions are also available on the Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker website and within the app).

For information about how to use the app to report evidence of rabbit disease, download our helpful document.

Note: If you happen to be in an area without mobile reception, we recommend you use the FeralScan App. The app will automatically store the information on your phone into the ‘Pending’ folder. When you are back in range, please open this folder and submit your record(s). Alternatively, if you do not have a mobile phone, please enter your data from your desktop computer on the RabbitScan website and click on ‘Report Disease’ and login to report evidence of disease.

Contact the RHD Boost team

If you have any questions or need further information about the above, simply contact rhdboost@invasiveanimals.com