Rabbits may be cute and cuddly but they are Australia’s most destructive introduced pest. Rabbits are listed as an Invasive Biosecurity Matter, which requires landholders to manage this species in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2014 and the Biosecurity Plan for the Brisbane Local Government Area.
Current rabbit numbers are relatively low in South-east Queensland due in part to the Darling Downs-Morton rabbit proof fence and the release of three biological control agents.
It is illegal to keep a rabbit as a pet in Brisbane, rabbits kept for approved purposes such as public entertainment or university research must have an approved permit from Biosecurity Queensland.
- are small, mammals with grey-brown fur with a lighter white-grey belly
- have long ears, large hind legs and short fluffy tails
- move by hopping, using their long and powerful hind legs
- rarely live beyond 6 years in the wild
- can breed from four months of age and are capable of bearing five or more litters a year when there is adequate food supply
- each litter can contain up to five young.
Problems with rabbits
Rabbits can cause land degradation by damaging vegetation through ringbarking trees and shrubs, preventing regeneration by eating seeds and seedlings and grazing on native herbs and grasses.
They also contribute to the decline of native animal's numbers through competition for resources. Their burrows and digging may also cause erosion and increase sedimentation of waterways.
The following tips provide information on how you can manage rabbits successfully.
Monitor your property with a monthly inspection to check for evidence of rabbit activity is recommended. There are two methods:
- a daytime inspection for fresh rabbit droppings, diggings and holes in or under fencing
- a night time inspection for feeding rabbits.
The most effective method of controlling rabbits is to destroy all warrens, otherwise rabbits will recolonise.
When rabbits are found under disused sheds and buildings, remove the flooring to gain burrow access, and also remove nearby piles of rubbish.
If you find evidence of rabbits on your property, report it to Brisbane City Council and talk to your nearest neighbours to discuss a community-wide approach to eradicate rabbits.
Exclusion fencing is an effective method of preventing rabbits from entering the property or excluding them from a part of the property. It should be:
- 50 millimetres wire mesh
- one metre high minimum
- buried into the earth to a depth of at least 300 millimetres, to prevent rabbits burrowing under.
To learn more about the management of rabbits, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.
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