Management of rabbits in rural areas

Oryctolagus cuniculus

Pest rabbit

Image credit: Scott Jennings 

Rabbits are a serious invasive pest in Australia causing millions of dollars in damage to crops and the natural environment.

It is a landowner’s legal responsibility to control rabbits on their property under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (NRM Act).

Impacts

  • rabbits cause extensive damage to crops, pastures and native vegetation
  • they are difficult to control and will quickly reinvade, so they need constant management
  • deep burrows enable them to survive most environmental conditions
  • they adapt to a variety of food and can graze plants to ground level.

Planning a control program

  • plan and prepare your control program in advance so you can implement the control methods at the right time and in the best sequence
  • try to work in collaboration with your neighbours, this can achieve more widespread and successful results
  • look for signs where rabbits have been active, such as burrows, fresh scratches in the soil, scattered or piled dung and damage to vegetation
  • they also take refuge above ground, in areas such as plant beds or wood heaps
  • rabbits are territorial, generally staying within 200 metres of burrows and shelter and feeding mainly at 25 to 50 metres
  • the best time to do rabbit control work is in late summer or autumn.

How to control this animal

  • there are a number of methods for rabbit control, it is best to use an ongoing combination of them
  • start by estimating the total area the rabbits are using – this is where your control program will need to concentrate
  • control methods include any or all of the following: 
    • removing above-ground refuge
    • destroying warrens and burrows
    • baiting
    • fumigation
    • trapping
    • ferreting 
    • exclusion fencing.

Declarations

The following sections of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 apply to Wild Rabbits in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region:

  • 175 (1) Cannot bring the animal into the region
  • 175 (3) Cannot spread animals to areas where it doesn’t already exist
  • 176 (1a) Cannot keep a declared animal
  • 177 Cannot sell the animal
  • 179 Must not release the animal in the region
  • 182 (2) Landowner must control and keep controlled wild rabbits
  • 185 (1) The NRM authority may recover costs for control of pest animals on road reserves from owners of adjoining land

More information

For more detailed information download the fact sheet.

Please contact us for advice and assistance with controlling rabbits.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges