- Rabbits were introduced into New Zealand from Europe in the 1830's to 1850's to provide fur, meat and game.
- Rabbits prefer short, sparsely composed grass land, especially with areas of bare earth.
- The overgrazing of pasture with horses or sheep helps to create rabbit prone conditions. Rabbits do not thrive consistently where good soils, easy topography and adequate rainfall have allowed quality land development.
Damage Caused by Rabbits
- Rabbits compete with stock for available pasture feed (10-12 rabbits equate to one sheep).
- Rabbits burrow, causing soil erosion and creating a hazard to stock and landowners.
- Rabbits decimate emerging crops or newly planted forest/horticulture seedlings.
- Rabbits girdle young established trees by chewing the trees' bark at ground level.
Repellents & Exclusions
- Repellent and exclusion devices can be used to protect new planting.
- Animal repellents are available that can be sprayed on newly planted tree and shrub seedlings. These repellents will give limited protection dependant on the amount of seasonal rain.
- Hare protector devices are also available. These consist of an expandable synthetic netting tube and pieces of number 8 wire. The wires are pushed into the ground over-topping the seedling to be protected. The netting tube is then slid over the top of the u-bend.
- Rabbits are mainly active at night. Therefore, night-shooting with the use of a spotlight is a good option in rural areas.
- A .22 calibre rimfire rifle or a 12 gauge shot gun are the best firearms to use.
- Some baits available for use without a special licence. An example is PINDONE pellets. This poison in an anticoagulant and will kill rabbits in 7 to 10 days.
- In areas where stock are excluded, place a handful of pellets out on all available sign such as rabbit droppings and scratchings. Ensure that 2-3 days of settled weather is likely as the pellets break down in rain. Repeat application of bait is required every 2-3 days as a single feed is not enough to kill the rabbits.
- Rabbits can be fumigated in their burrows by using MAGTOXIN tablets. MAGTOXIN produces hydrogen phosphide gas on contact with moisture and asphyxiates the rabbits.
- The procedure involves placing 5 tablets right down inside the burrow and then sealing the entrance hole with dirt so the gas is confined to the burrow.
Danger to Humans:
- All anticoagulant pellets are coloured green and are dangerous if eaten. Hydrogen phosphide is dangerous if inhaled. For First Aid and safe use of anticoagulant pellets and Magtoxin, refer to manufacturers' instructions.
Heaps of Rabbits
Rabbit numbers can soar as the spring breeding season gets into full swing. Don't panic if you suddenly see rabbits in spring as only 10% of juveniles will survive disease, predation and periods of wet weather.
This information is reproduced with the kind permission of Wellington Regional Council who produce the pamphlet this information is taken from.