Feral rabbit

Rabbits are Australia's worst pest.

In the Northern Territory (NT) they are found mainly in the arid Central Australian region.

Impacts

The main threats of rabbits are competition and land degradation.

In Central Australia, they have caused economic losses to farmers and huge environmental damage by changing the landscape and competing with native animals for food and shelter.

Rabbits compete with livestock for food by overgrazing and reducing trees and shrubs by killing mature plants and preventing seedling growth. 

They damage soils, causing erosion problems and destroy native plants.

In the NT rabbits are linked to the decline in bilby numbers and the disappearance of the burrowing bettong.

Management

Biological control has been important to rabbit population control. This has included introducing several diseases that only affect rabbits, including myxomatosis, the European rabbit flea, the Spanish rabbit flea and the rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease proved very successful in the NT and has reduced rabbit numbers by more than 80%.

Other control methods used include all of the following:

  • ripping warrens with a bulldozer with ripping tines
  • exclusion fencing
  • trapping
  • poisoning
  • shooting
  • fumigation.

Last updated: 27 June 2017