Rabbits & Rabbit Control
The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) belongs to the order of Lagomorphs and are not rodents. They originate from the Iberian Peninsula and North-West Africa. Introduced by the Normans, rabbits are now widespread after escaping on a continual basis during Victorian times, when rabbits were kept in semi-commercial enclosed warrens for food and fur. A mature rabbit can be up to 40cm long and can weigh up to 2 kg and require about half a kg of green food a day. They prefer agricultural pastures with harbourage sites nearby. Rabbits are increasing again, as some resistance to the disease myxomatosis, which was introduced in 1953 to control rabbit infestations, is apparent. The main reason for rabbit control is for damage caused by them to farm crops, gardens, woodland saplings and and bark stripping of trees. In addition, rabbit warrens present a danger to livestock and can undermine the root structures of woodland trees.
Under Section 1 of the Pests Act 1954 most of England has been declared a rabbit clearance area and occupiers of land in a such an area have a continuing obligation to control rabbits living on, or resorting to, their land and this legislation is still relevant today. Rabbits may raise 5 litters per year and a single pair, along with the offspring can exceed to produce over 100 rabbits in a year!
Rabbit management methods
Rabbits can withstand a high mortality from both natural causes and pest control. In a rural context, even with an effective catch rate, a rabbit-free environment is almost impossible, as re-population will eventually occur from nearby fields. The complete eradication of smaller isolated pockets is achievable but in case of larger numbers, the objective is to employ methods to reduce numbers and manage existing populations so that damage is economically acceptable.
The most effective time for rabbit control is from October to March because:
- Levels have been reduced naturally, by predation and disease
- Catching mature animals means a reduction of the breeding population
- Vegetation is reduced and the access to burrows is easier for rabbit control
Depending on the environment and the population level we can use several rabbit control methods including trapping, shooting and ferreting / longnetting as means of an effective rabbit control regime.
We cover the following districts
WI: Wigan and Leigh, WL: West Lancashire, CL: Chorley, PR: Preston, BL: Bolton, HE: St. Helens, MA: Manchester, WA: Warrington, KN: Knowsley, LP: Liverpool, SE: Sefton, SP: Southport, HT: Halton, SA: Salford; TR: Trafford, SK: Stockport, TS Tameside, BR: Bury, RD: Rochdale, BB, Blackburn, HB: Hyndburn, Fl: Fleetwood, WR: Wirral, CW, CC, CE: Cheshire west, central and east.