Rabbits

Rabbit “Oryctolagus cuniculus”

Rabbit

Originally from north-west Africa and Iberia, the Rabbit is now found throughout most of Western Europe. Introduced to Britain by the Norman’s in the twelfth century, rabbits are now wide spread in the UK. Although A Rabbit looks cute. It is estimated that they cause £100 million pounds a year in crop damage, to the British Agricultural Industry. Just that industry alone is a lot of money in damaged crops. Rabbits prefer to eat agricultural crops that are nutritious and locally plentiful, hence the amount of damage that they cost the British Agricultural Industry. But as they eat a wide range of herbage, and no crops are available they switch there feeding to whatever is available, including bark from trees. They chew away the bark from the base of the tree in colder weather.

If they chew all the bark off, all the way around the tree, the tree will die making it eventually unsafe waiting for an accident to happen. If only part of the bark is stripped the tree is open to disease or fungi to take hold, whatever the outcome it is not good for our woods. This is yet another cost to the forestry’s and the replacement of trees. One adult Rabbit can consume 0.5Kgs of green food a day, so if you had Rabbits in double, figures. You are looking at severe heavy grazing, and for a farmer that would be an extra cost to cover feed for his farm animals to graze on. When this does happen, you have some areas where the grass has been completely removed, and only moss remains.

This is called “Rabbit lawns” Damage is done through digging and there feeding activities in:

  • Gardens

  • Sports grounds

  • Public Areas

  • Forestry

  • Farmlands

  • Conservation areas

  • Estates

  • Motorway embankments

These are all areas that Rabbits cause a great deal of damage and cost. Rabbits do not respect boundaries so you may find burrows on one owners land, and feeding on another so a joint action would be needed to resolve the problem. There is a legal obligation on occupiers of land to control Rabbits or, if this is not practicable, to prevent them from doing damage on neighbouring land should also be considered. Rabbits will also live under sheds amongst rubble and in piles of dead tree roots and branches. They prefer areas with short grass so beware of you’re nicely cut lawns. They also eat plants and they do not differentiate between a rare plant and a common one. A Rabbits population will only multiply if left unregulated, due to their breeding capabilities. Their main breeding season is between January and August, but due to warmer and drier winters there is evidence that breeding is more common. Winter litters have a very low rate of survival especially if it is a cold and wet winter. A young female Rabbit (Doe) will start to breed around 3-4 months old.

  • The gestation period is 28-30 days

  • The average litter is 5 young

  • 4-5 litters per year

 

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