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Rabbits huddled up against wire fence

Rabbits. Photo courtesy of
NSW Department of Primary Industry

Graphic: Rabbit and Hare footprint comparison

Rabbit and hare footprint comparison

The rabbit is Australia's most destructive introduced pest. All varieties, including domestic breeds, are declared pest animals under the Biosecurity Act 2014. It is an offence to keep a rabbit of any variety as a pet (this includes domestic pet rabbits). As at 1 July 2018, the maximum penalty is $65,275.

Rabbits are often confused with the hare. It should be remembered the hare is not a declared pest animal.

Rabbit or hare?

How do I spot the difference?

Here are some tips to help you tell a rabbit and a hare apart.

Rabbit management

There are seven steps to successful rabbit management in urban environments:

Inspection of the property

When inspecting a property you will need to look for suitable habitat areas for rabbit colonies. The following are a good indication that you may have a rabbit problem:

  • fresh rabbit droppings
  • recently excavated patches of soil
  • well worn trails that go into harbourage areas or under fencing

If you find evidence of rabbits on your property, talk to your nearest neighbours to discuss a community-wide approach to effectively eradicate rabbits, especially in areas of small acreage properties.

Destruction of rabbit habitat

The most effective method of controlling rabbits is the destruction of their harbourage areas and warrens, otherwise rabbits will quickly re-colonise.

When rabbits are found under disused sheds and buildings, the only effective way to completely eradicate the rabbits is to remove the flooring to gain access to the burrows. All nearby piles of rubbish need to be removed, as these provide rabbits with alternative safe habitat.

Fumigation of existing warrens

Fumigants are easy to use and are very cost-effective. You can buy them from most agricultural suppliers. Ensure that you read the product label carefully and follow all the instructions provided before using any fumigants A current "material safety data sheet" (MSDS) should be kept at the fumigation site. This is available from the agricultural supplier.

Live capture trapping

The following types of traps are effective and humane:

Soft catch, rubber-jawed, foot-hold traps

You may use soft catch, rubber-jawed, foot-hold traps to catch rabbits. These should be placed at the entrance to the burrow. Before setting the traps check for rabbit tracks and fresh droppings in the loose soil at the burrow's entrance.

Trapping techniques must conform to accepted animal welfare practices and the traps used must be approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Soft catch rubber-jawed traps are designed to firmly hold captured rabbits while practically eliminating trap-induced and self-induced injury.

Drop door cage trap

The drop door cage trap is best suited for covered areas (inside barns and under floorboards of sheds).

10 days before setting the traps establish a feeding pattern by placing a mixture of diced raw carrots, sweet potato or turnips on the ground near the rabbits' burrow. Only then should the attractant be placed in the traps and the traps set.

Exclusion fencing

Exclusion fencing is an effective method of preventing rabbits from entering the property or excluding them from a particular part of the property. It should be:

  • 50 millimetre wire mesh
  • one metre high minimum
  • buried into the earth to a depth of at least 300 millimetres, to prevent rabbits burrowing under.

Regular inspection of your property

A monthly inspection of the property for evidence of rabbit activity is recommended.

There are two methods:

  1. a daytime visual inspection for fresh rabbit droppings, diggings and holes in or under fencing
  2. a night time inspection (at least once a month) for feeding rabbits.

Report rabbits

If you see a rabbit in your area tell your neighbours: a cooperative community approach is necessary to achieve all pest management goals. To report a rabbit sighting, please complete the Darling Downs - Moreton Rabbit Board's Have you seen a rabbit online form or email

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