Rabbit control options

Page last updated: Thursday, 23 September 2021 - 1:48pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Rabbit-proof fencing

Rabbit-proof fences can be effective in preventing animals moving into or re-infesting an area. Well-maintained fences can provide a permanent solution to rabbit problems. Fencing can also be used to contain rabbits in an area where they can be more efficiently poisoned.

Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

These viruses have been introduced to help reduce rabbit numbers, but may be difficult to manipulate. Following up immediately with other control methods can enhance their benefits. RHD was previously known as calicivirus or rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD).

In March 2017 there was a national release of a Korean strain of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, known as RHDV1 K5 .This is the first time in 20 years that a new rabbit biocontrol agent has been released into Australia. The release of this new rabbit virus strain is part of a 20 year national biocontrol plan for rabbits.

RHDV1 K5 is now available as a commercial product to authorised users. The supply and use of RHDV1 K5 in WA to authorised users was enabled under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Regulations Amendment 2017 (Government Gazette Friday, 3 February 2017). Under the regulations, anyone who will be handling and mixing the liquid suspension virus must complete on-line training to become authorised users of RHDV. RHDV1-K5 Authorisation Training is available from DPIRD’s Client Online Training website.

Coordinated, landscape scale release of rabbit biological control viruses will maximise effectiveness and produce greater results than patchy, individual landholder releases. DPIRD recommends land managers contact their local biosecurity group before applying for the virus to coordinate a release or to determine if a release has already occurred within their area. Biosecurity group contact details are available within the online RHDV1 K5 training package. 

Other methods

Shooting and trapping can be useful additional tools when very few rabbits are present. These methods should be used legally and humanely.

Summary of options for rabbit control


When to use




1080 baiting

Late summer. 
Before seeding, 
planting or 
regeneration efforts.

Most cost-effective 

Large areas covered quickly. 
Most native animals tolerant 
of 1080 but can be affected if baits misused.

Foxes killed by eating poisoned rabbits.

No effective antidote. 
Livestock and pets can be at risk. 
Uneaten baits should be buried or weathered by exposure to rain. 
Dry weather required.


Best late summer. 
Before planting/ 

Moderate cost.

Less hazard to domestic 
Antidote available.

Must not be used in presence of some native animals.


Best late summer. 
Before planting or seeding.

Follow-up to ripping.

Useful if rabbits are 
underground in inaccessible
or scattered areas. 
Follow-up after baiting, 
ripping. Does not cause 

Cannot be used where rabbits live above ground or where warrens cannot be sealed.

Warren ripping

Summer for sandy 
areas. Winter for areas with clay soils. 
Before planting or seeding.


Good for large paddock 
Reduces recolonisation. 
Long-term solution.

Can cause soil erosion. 
Cannot be used in bushland as it destroys native vegetation. 
Cannot be used in some rocky country.


Before planting or seeding.

Little value alone - 
combine with other 

Good follow-up method.

Cannot be used in all situations (e.g. native vegetation).


Before planting or seeding.

Very labour-intensive. 
High initial cost.

Long-term effect, stops 

Needs regular checking.

and RHD

Naturally spread.

No cost.

Effective in reducing numbers before other controls are used.

Timing and effectiveness unpredictable.

Shooting and trapping

Best late summer

Very labour intensive

Must be used with other 
methods, to be useful. Need permit for many trap types.

Only appropriate for low rabbit numbers. Trapping and shooting not suitable in built-up areas.


Further information

For further information on rabbits and rabbit control, search our website, or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service.


Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080