Common name: Rabbit

Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus

Why are they a pest?

Feral rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are small mammalian herbivores that inhabit grasslands at low altitudes. They were introduced to New Zealand in the early 1800s for meat and hunting, but in the absence of predators they have become a significant pest. Rabbits are a serious threat to our biodiversity, environment, and economy. They graze native seedlings and vegetation, compete with stock for pasture and crops, and cause soil erosion and degradation.

Rabbits reproduce rapidly. Females can be pregnant for 70% of the year and are capable of adjusting their litter size according to food supply, so rabbit populations are capable of rebounding quickly from natural disasters or control pressures. Rabbits as young as five months old can produce up to 50 offspring each year.

How can I control them?

There are really only two options for rabbit control:

Baiting with Pindone: this is a rabbit-specific bait that requires a specific feeder. Pindone is very effective if used in the right conditions but there is the possibility of secondary poisoning if domestic animals scavenge the carcases. Best practice is to collect the dead bodies.

Rabbits are inextricably linked with stoats and ferrets. Stoats especially, feed on young rabbits and the population of the mustelids increases on a ready availability of young rabbits.

Shooting: Shooting is most effective at night with a night-sight and spot light where the rabbits are unaware of the shooter. There are protocols to undertake shooting in semi-rural areas but this can be very effective to reduce a population if undertaken over a few nights.