Rabbit control in urban and semi-urban areas

Page last updated: Friday, 11 May 2018 - 1:53pm

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Live-capture cage traps may be used to catch rabbits when their numbers are relatively few and they are restricted to a relatively small area. (Note: the use of steel jaw traps to capture rabbits is illegal.) Diced carrot (1cm cubes), oats or apple are effective in attracting rabbits to traps depending on seasonal conditions.

Captured rabbits must be killed humanely in accordance with the animal welfare legislation. Acceptable techniques include cervical fracture for young rabbits, and if permissible, shooting. Non-target animals must be released unharmed at site of capture.

Some authorities (for example local councils) loan wire cage traps to landholders for the removal of rabbits.


Pindone oat bait

Where circumstances allow, poisoning rabbits may be an option. The most suitable rabbit poison in urban areas is the anticoagulant, pindone. Pindone is similar in action to the anticoagulant poisons used to control rats and mice (for example warfarin, bromadiolone). To be effective, pindone bait needs to be ingested by rabbits over several nights of feeding.

Because there is an effective antidote (Vitamin K1, phytomenadione), pindone can be used in more closely settled areas where 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) poison cannot be used due to the potential risk of poisoning domestic livestock and pets. The antidote for pindone is available from veterinarians either as an injection or as a tablet.

As pindone poses some potential risk to native animals such as kangaroos, birds of prey and bandicoots, an assessment of these risks needs to be undertaken before pindone-baiting can be undertaken. Pindone should not be used where these non-target species are likely to be exposed to the bait, or considered to be at risk.

Ready-to-use pindone bait is available through farm supply stores. Licensed Pest Management Technicians (LPMTs) are also able to lay pindone bait on your behalf. However, pindone cannot be used on properties smaller than 1000m².

The form of pindone in these baits is the sodium salt which is water-soluble, degradable and non-residual. Because of its water-soluble nature, pindone-baiting should not take place if rain is expected.

Rabbits need to be encouraged to feed on the bait by free-feeding with unpoisoned oats before poison-baiting can commence. Free-feeding should continue until the rabbits are feeding consistently; this will usually take two to three nights. Once rabbits are feeding well on the unpoisoned oats remove all remaining grain and apply the poisoned oats.

Pindone oats should be applied as three applications approximately four days apart over a 10-12 day period in accordance with the label directions regarding their safe handling and use. This includes notifying all your neighbours that poisoning is to take place and the disposal of any poisoned rabbits found. Any carcasses found should be destroyed either by incineration or by deep burial (>0.5m).

Bait stations can be used to restrict non-target species from accessing the bait. The best method for presenting bait is to place it on plastic saucers (about 40cm diameter) secured with a brick or something similar in the centre of the saucer. The saucers with bait are best put out at night and retrieved early the next morning, as this reduces the potential non-target risks.

To further reduce the potential risk to non-target species, or if rain/heavy dew is likely, the saucers should be covered with a plastic 200L drum cut in half lengthways with small holes cut out at each end to allow access by rabbits. Alternatively, a raised concrete slab (60x60cm on house bricks) can be used but this design does allow greater access to non-target animals such as birds.

Reductions in rabbit numbers achieved with pindone in bait stations can be highly variable and rabbits may take a considerable time to become accustomed to their presence.

1080 one-shot oat bait

Under most circumstances, and mainly due to safety concerns, 1080 poison cannot be used for rabbit control in urban areas. However, under special circumstances 1080 one-shot oat bait may be supplied to landholders for agriculture protection or conservation purposes, provided that associated potential risks are manageable. Authorised landholders are able to purchase and lay baits containing 1080, but these products are only available from licensed commercial S7 retail outlets and a permit required before baits can be purchased.

A 1080 Baiting Application Form must be submitted to an inspector at the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia who will then conduct a risk assessment for the baiting proposal. If approved, a 1080 Authorisation Permit will be issued. Inspectors will also provide training in the safe use and security of 1080, as only suitably trained persons are permitted to handle or lay baits.

Contact information

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