Spotlight counts, site fidelity and migration of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Regardless of their sex and age, the persistence of 76 rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) translocated onto 5 different sites with relatively low rabbit densities was identical to that of resident rabbits. Emigration and exploratory movements by rabbits from 12 discrete populations were positively correlated with rabbit density and mainly undertaken by adult rabbits. Adult males moved significantly more often and further than adult females. Two peaks in immigration were observed; a large peak (usually in January) immediately following the breeding season, and a second but smaller peak in March which preceded the start of the next breeding season. Again, significantly more adult males than females immigrated. The proportion of rabbits seen in spotlight counts was positively correlated with rabbit density, which suggests that biases in population estimates could result in some situations. No clear patterns on the effects of a variety of weather variables on spotlight counts could be established, but increasing rainfall, wind speed and moonlight may have reduced rabbit activity.

Author Twigg, L. E., Lowe, T. L., Gray, G. S., Martin, G. R., Wheeler, A. G. and Barker, W.
Year 1998
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 25
Number 2
Pages 113-122
Region NSW