European Rabbits

Rabbits were introduced to Tasmania in the 1820s. The first feral populations were recorded in 1827 in south-eastern Tasmania.

Rabbits are widespread and common in Tasmania and occur in a variety of habitats, including urban and coastal areas, agricultural areas, natural forests, planted forests, grasslands and disturbed habitats. They prefer areas of low vegetation with well-drained, deep sandy soils where they can build warrens and where refuge exists, such as scrub, blackberry bushes or fallen logs.

Biosecurity Tasmania manage rabbits in Tasmania – generally by releasing calicivirus.

They are aware of the booming population of rabbits in the south but their last limited release of calicivirus missed the Tasman Municipality – potentially because the conditions weren’t suitable. If calicivirus is released while there are young present the young are not affected and can develop an immunity for the rest of their lives. Also, with a lot of feed around (which there has been for the last couple of years) animals are less likely to take the food laced with the virus. Good feed availability also allows rabbits to breed all year round so young can be present at all times.

Update – April 2024

Environmental conditions are currently suitable for the use of calicivirus however, there is an ongoing Australia-wide shortage of calicivirus. The only laboratory able to manufacture calicivirus in Australia is experiencing supply issues and is unable to produce enough virus for jurisdictions across Australia. This supply challenge, coupled with a short shelf life, means Tasmania currently does not have calicivirus for use and a release cannot occur. Tasmania is currently on a list with other jurisdictions waiting for the supply of calicivirus.

This means it is likely that Biosecurity Tasmania will not be able to release calicivirus in Tasmania until the beginning of 2025, when environmental conditions may once again be favourable.

Here is a link to a page on Biosecurity Tasmania’s website describing the state of their calicivirus release program and other options landowners have: