The largest rabbit populations are found in the Granite Belt, south-western Darling Downs, Maranoa, southern Warrego and the far south-west. Moderate populations are dotted throughout the north-western Darling Downs and north Burnett, and low populations are scattered through much of the remainder of the state.
Rabbits do best where they have established warren systems. Rabbit warrens are most frequently found in deep, well-drained soils. Cracking clay soils are avoided because of waterlogging and the risk of warren collapse.
Where warren building isn’t possible, rabbits can use above-ground harbour such as hollow logs, or dense undergrowth formed by plants like blackberry or lantana. However, due to strict temperature requirements for successful breeding, they don’t thrive in these environments.
Rabbits cost you:
If allowed to get out of control, rabbit damage will cost you dearly—and not just economically. While rabbits can have a profound and obvious impact on your income, the ravages caused to your property can also a? ect its ecological sustainability and viability, as well as your peace of mind and social wellbeing.
While the economic impacts of rabbits are usually pretty easy to measure, the social, emotional and environmental costs are more di? cult to quantify and are frequently overlooked. Nevertheless, all these factors should be considered when making decisions about rabbit control.
Most rabbit-related production losses are the result of competition with livestock for food, and pasture damage. On average, 10 rabbits are capable of eating as much pasture as one sheep, and 100 rabbits as much as one yearling steer. So the cost of even a small rabbit problem can be signi?cant.
Extremely conservative estimates suggest rabbits currently cost the Queensland cattle and sheep industries at least $1 per rabbit per year. This equates to an estimated $150 million per year prior to the introduction of myxomatosis, $5 million per year after the introduction of myxomatosis and $2 million per year following the introduction of RHDV (formerly known as rabbit calicivirus disease—RCD). These estimates are a bare minimum.
The cost to the wool industry alone could be somewhere between $20 million and $70 million per year. It is estimated that rabbits cost Australia between $600 million and $1 billion dollars annually in damage to agricultural industries and the environment.
Rabbits are picky eaters and prefer succulent, actively growing grasses that are high in protein and water. They will selectively graze your best grasses down to root level, causing a change in pasture composition where the preferred grasses are eaten out, making way for less palatable grasses and weeds to spread.
This can mean reduced production of livestock or huge pasture re-establishment costs in the future.
For example, if rabbits eat the buds of wine grapes it will cost the producer 12 months worth of production, whereas in grain crops, they may only damage the outer crop edge.
(Cropedge damage can also be caused by climate and weather conditions and this can make it difficult to determine exactly how much should be attributed to rabbits.)
Rabbits are environmental vandals and the damage they do to the balance of your local ecosystem can have a lasting impact. While it may not be something you can actually see, an ecosystem that functions properly is vital to ensure your property can recover from constant agricultural use.
In times of drought, rabbits will climb trees to forage on the foliage and will often even ringbark trees in their search for moisture. Their grazing and burrowing reduces vegetation coverage, prevents native vegetation from regenerating, and can lead to soil erosion.
The exposed bare soil is then blown or washed away making areas less productive and causing associated water-quality problems. Rabbits have contributed to the localised extinction and decline of many native plant and animal species, including other burrowing animals such as the wombat and bilby.
The loss of vegetation from rabbit grazing and the destruction of new seedlings threaten the survival of native plants as well as the native birds, mammals and insects that rely on the plants for food and shelter.
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