Wild and Domesticated Rabbits in Australia

On Monday I presented you with some photographs of our long weekend in northern New South Wales. As you will have seen from those pictures, we spent a lot of our time on the local beaches of which there were many.

Mrs Bob and I are not really beachy people, but our 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth is and so are her two friends of the same age who came with us. But there was something else they were interested in on this trip…

Bunny rabbits

Cartoon RabbitA long time ago I wrote a post called It’s Easter Bunny Time in Australia in which I claimed “It’s illegal to own a rabbit in many Australian states.

Not so.

Seems like I got it wrong. Looking at it now it appears that it’s only Queensland that has an out and out ban on the bunny rabbit here. And our trio of 10-year-olds had heard that rabbits were allowed in New South Wales and they were very keen to spot one when we got there.

Rabbit hunting

The girls didn’t want us to refer to it as rabbit hunting, that implied shooting the things when we found them. So they preferred the term “bunny chasing”. So we decided we would go bunny chasing at some point. But first, we wanted to check out the local beach which was just about 300 to 400 metres from our apartment.

On the way, we passed this empty plot of land on the right.

wild rabbits in australia (1)Can you spot anything unusual in there? Like a black thing with pointy ears and big feet? If you look really carefully at the photograph, to the corner of the upper balcony, you will notice a large beige coloured dog staring straight at this black thing with pointy ears and big feet.

So without even trying and within around 15 minutes of arriving at our destination, we had seen our very first wild rabbit.

And that was just the beginning, further sightings followed one after another after another…

wild rabbits in australia (2)

wild rabbits in australia (3)

If you look carefully, there’s actually three rabbits in this photograph…

wild rabbits in australia (4)

Rabbit 5White rabbits, black rabbits, brown rabbits, we saw rabbits everywhere. Turns out that the place we were staying, Casuarina, is kind of known for its wild rabbits. We’ve been to New South Wales on many occasions, never seen a wild rabbit. In this place they were everywhere.

As Chas and Dave would have said “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

What our girls really wanted to do though was not just see these rabbits, but go up to them and stroke them. The rabbits weren’t interested in that though, they would run away. It wasn’t going to happen.

There was only one solution.

Off to the pet shop

So we went to a New South Wales pet shop which is allowed to sell rabbits and the girls were able to touch them through the bars of the cage.

pet rabbitsThey couldn’t actually hold them, that was against the pet shops policy.

Smuggling a rabbit into Queensland

How much are the rabbits?” We asked.

$20-$70” we were told.

We are from Queensland” we said, “can we take one of these pet rabbits across the border?

No we couldn’t. We could get into big trouble if we did. How big?

$44,000 fine or six months in prison!

Wow, Queensland really doesn’t like rabbits. This state has the toughest anti-rabbit laws in the world with penalties of $44,000 and six months in prison.

We could apply for a special license to own a rabbit in Queensland if we wanted to, but they are only granted to certain people. The example we were given was a magician.

This didn’t make sense to me. If you’re a magician and you want a rabbit, don’t you just pull one out of a hat? And if the authorities call and accuse you of owning a rabbit in Queensland, couldn’t you just make it disappear?

magician rabbitDidn’t make sense to me. Anyway, we didn’t buy a rabbit.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Adelaide girl January 23, 2015, 11:41 pm | Link

    While I can’t be certain about current rabbit proof fences in Qld, there’s several in WA still, which date back to the 1900s.

    Google rabbit proof fence and Qld and it seems like there used to be several and may still be some, according to Wikipedia.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit-proof_fence
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbits_in_Australia

    And, don’t forget, theres still the dog fence to keep out the dingoes.

    If only fences worked on cane toads….

    • BobinOz January 27, 2015, 4:07 pm | Link

      Interesting stuff, I didn’t know some of those fences were still around. And why don’t they work on cane toads? Do they climb over them or something? Or I suppose the small baby ones can just jump through. Should have made it with bricks 🙂

      • Hilary February 9, 2015, 10:35 pm | Link

        Yes, I’ve seen part of the old rabbit proof fence in WA. It has quite a history. Also don’t forget the book called The Rabbit Proof Fence, very moving true story of how things used to be in parts of this land. They made it into a film, tough watching.

        • BobinOz February 10, 2015, 7:41 pm | Link

          Yes, I’ve seen the film, it is tough viewing for sure.

  • Steve January 22, 2015, 8:02 pm | Link

    $44k or 6 months imprisonment… I can just picture a 30cm fenced border around Queensland just to keep the rabbits out!

    • BobinOz January 23, 2015, 8:42 pm | Link

      If I find that fence, I’ll take a picture 🙂

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