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Rabbits are usually grey-brown in colour, with other colour varieties occasionally occurring in the wild. They may live in communal warrens (underground tunnels with multiple entrances) or above-ground where sufficient cover exists. Rabbits prefer habitats with free draining soils and open grassland with adjacent taller vegetation, such as scrub, for cover. As suchm they are a problem in pasture-land.
Rabbits breed rapidly and populations can recover quickly after being reduced by disease, control pressures or environmental changes. They eat a variety of plant matter including grasses (they compete directly with stock for grazing and can sour pasture by eating out the most palatable species of grass), seedlings of trees and crops. This can be a serious problem for native plant regeneration and farm or lifestyle block owners.
Rabbits can breed rapidly. Females may be pregnant for 70% of a year and can produce a total of 20 – 50 young each. They are also capable of adjusting litter-sizes to food supply so rabbit populations are capable of rebounding quickly from natural disasters or control pressures. Some wild rabbits may live up to seven years but life spans are generally much shorter.
A successful night shoot can reduce a rabbit population by about 30 percent with two or three shoots necessary to gain good control. It is important to effectively cover all areas as any rabbits that have been missed become wary of a spotlight or the sound of a gun.
You must have a licence before using a firearm. Use a gun with extreme care, especially where there are likely to be people or animals nearby.
Poisoning is the most cost-effective method of controlling rabbits. Poison is most effective from March to September, outside the main breeding season, when the young are likely to survive in burrows and re-infest an area. Rabbit poisons can affect all warm-blooded animals including humans. Read the instructions carefully before use.
Pindone is an anticoagulant which uses the same principle as rat poisons. A controlled substance licence (CSL) is not required to use pindone in pellet form, which may be laid around buildings and residential areas if treated with the same caution as rat poison. Keep away from children and pets and follow label directions.
Magtoxin is available as a small tablet which releases the toxic gas phosphine when exposed to moisture. Phosphine is a colourless gas with a garlic smell.
Typically 2-3 tablets down a rabbit burrow will be enough to kill any animals in it. When fumigating, make sure all burrow entrances are blocked. A small amount of water can be used to make the Magtoxin react if the soil is dry.
Fumigation is a good follow-up method to shooting or poisoning and will kill young rabbits that may otherwise survive.