History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Does Australia Really Have A Rabbit Overpopulation Problelm?

 As you might imagine we get asked a lot of rabbit-related questions out here at the ranch.  Anything people want to know about rabbits come our way.  We don’t always have the answer on our finger tips, but we try to get the correct answer as soon as we can.  One question that frequently comes up from visitors who tour the ranch is:  “Does Australia really have a rabbit problem?” The short answer is, "Yes." 

There are many accounts as to why Australia is overpopulated with rabbits. The story we were able to confirm with sources such as Wikipedia goes like this. 

The rabbit overpopulation problem in Australia is said to have originated in 1859 when Thomas Austin - no relation to Steve Austin the bionic man - released a mixture of 24 domestic rabbits and hares into the Australian wild. 

You see while living in his homeland – England – Mr. Austin loved hunting rabbits for sport. When he moved to Australia, he found there were no rabbits; rabbits were not native to his  his new home.  So Austin had his nephew back in England send him rabbits and hares from England. Once the rabbits and hares arrived in Australia  Austin released them into the wild.  They rabbits and hares adapted very well to Australia's climate and vegetation --- but get this ... they had no natural predators in  Australia to keep their population in check.

Austin believed the introduction of a few rabbits would do little harm; all he wanted to do was enjoy his favorite sport  which was hunting" those whywrie  wraskles". The rabbits, however, once set free were extremely prolific and their offspring spread rapidly across the southern continent of the Australia. 

The mild winters allowed the English rabbits to breed all year and the ample food supply was enough to feed countless generations.  With no known predators for the rabbits in Australia the rabbit population exploded.  The over population of rabbits still plaques Australians to this day.

It is estimated that by 1869 (just 10 years after Austin released his 24 rabbits and hares) the rabbit population grew to two million rabbits.  Rabbits shot and trapped each year have no noticeable effect on their population.

Its a fact: the explosion of the Australian rabbit population is the fastest recorded spread of any mammal population on the face of the earth. 

If you have any really good animal trivia you would like to share we would love to hear it.  If we can use it and put it on our blog we will send you one of Ralph's Lucky Rabbit Foot Key Chains.  

Follow @Ralphsranch