The ecology of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in coastal southern Western Australia

Demographic changes in three free-ranging rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) populations were monitored over 4 years in southern Western Australia. Peak densities followed periods of high rainfall and pasture biomass. The breeding season was prolonged, often extending from at least April to November, with some pregnancies occurring outside this period. Fecundity, determined by the autopsy of pregnant offsite rabbits and the known length of each breeding season, appeared to be relatively high, with the potential for 34–39 kittens doe-1 year-1; however, because not all females are pregnant in all months, the overall productivity of these populations was estimated at 25–30 kittens adult female-1 year-1. Exponential rates of increase varied from 0.13 to 0.30 during the breeding periods and –0.05 to –0.14 during the nonbreeding season. Kitten survival was generally low whereas some adults lived for more than 5 years. Two patterns of myxomatosis were observed: annual epizootics of the disease (3 of 4 years) and an epidemic that slowly spread over many months. European rabbit fleas were most abundant during winter–spring and attained highest densities on adult female rabbits.

Author Twigg, L. E., Lowe, T. J., Martin, G. R., Wheeler, A. G., Gray, G. S., Griffin, S. L., O'Reilly, C. M., Butler, T. L., Robinson, D. J. and Hubach, P. H.
Year 1998
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 25
Number 2
Pages 97-111
Region WA