Rabbit control in urban and semi-urban areas

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

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.


Many rabbits live above-ground and shelter amongst suitable vegetation. However, if rabbits are using warrens as their main refuge then fumigation may be a satisfactory means for reducing rabbit numbers. Fumigant tablets can be obtained from farm supply stores. The pellets are positioned in the burrows, and all burrow entrances sealed which allows the released phosphine gas to permeate through the warren.

Extreme caution must be exercised when using this method, particularly with regard to operator safety, as phosphine is lethal to most life-forms. Read the label and follow the instructions carefully. Warren entrances should be checked for rabbit activity several days after fumigation to determine if rabbits are still present, and the warrens re-treated if necessary.


One way of reducing or eliminating a rabbit problem is to keep them off your property or away from high-value plants or crops. Fencing can be a permanent cost-effective solution and may be the only viable option available in certain situations, particularly in urban and semi urban areas.

Rabbit-proof netting

Rabbit-proof netting (prefabricated wire netting) has been available for many years and has proved to be an effective, long-term control option when properly installed and maintained. It can be an almost impenetrable barrier excluding all but the most persistent and agile rabbits.

Care must be taken to repair any breaches as soon as they are noticed to ensure long-term control is maintained. Any gates or entry/exit points within the fence should also be made as rabbit-proof as practicable.

A disadvantage of this technique is the high initial capital outlay. However, these costs can soon be recouped, particularly where high-value products are protected. Costs may also be reduced if there is an existing fence on which to attach the rabbit netting.

Tree guards

Tree guards are a simple but effective method of reducing rabbit damage to individual plants. There are various types of guards suitable for either temporary or semi-permanent applications. These include plastic mesh netting (polyethylene or polypropylene available in rolls of various lengths) and rigid plastic tubes or cylindrical sleeves.

Most of these guards will also need stakes for support. Irrespective of what material is used, all tree guards should have a minimum height of 40cm to be effective against rabbits. A maximum mesh size of 3.5x3.5cm is recommended to prevent rabbits accessing plants through the netting.

Cheaper home-made solutions such as old tyres, milk cartons (plasticised cardboard lasts about one year) and soft drink bottles may also be used but these may be less effective.

Harbourage removal/modification

Make your property less attractive to rabbits by removing all available rabbit harbour. For example, where practical, destroy any rabbit warrens, remove rock piles or wood heaps, and keep your garden, and its surrounds, tidy.


A small number of products are registered for use as animal and bird repellents in Australia, however none have been developed specifically to repel rabbits. This may change in the future. Most repellents will need repeated application and are generally only suited to relatively small areas (for example garden beds), with a small number of rabbits.

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