And we thought our beloved Bugs Bunny of the Looney Tunes fame has a carrot fetish alone! Sadly this is not the case. Rabbits despite their cute reputation as the much loved cartoon character in the form of bugs bunny or peter rabbit, are also a major pest species all over the world. This mammal is largely underestimated by most, but its capabilities to breed as well as, chew, eat and dig through most landscapes is second to none. A small population of rabbits can decimate a colossal amount of crop. It is estimated that rabbits cost the British agricultural industry £100million a year through crop damage.
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagmorpha , found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits. Rabbits live in groups, or rabbit holes. A group of burrows is called a warren. Rabbits have open-rooted teeth that grow continually throughout their lives. In the wild, rabbits chew on a wide variety of items that naturally wear down their teeth. Due to this tendency these animals much like rodents tend to gnaw on whatever it is that they can lay their hands on.
Rabbits are a major source of headache for farmers all over the world. In areas where coppicing takes place and rabbits eat the new growth, the remainder of the tree will die off. Saplings are often targeted as well, meaning they will need to be replaced to provide correct woodland management. Rabbits are also capable of reaching heights of 50 cm plus when stretched out on hind legs and capable of climbing if there is low foliage around. When rabbits attack fruit trees, the next harvest will be a ‘bumper’ crop as it is natures’ way of carrying on by producing extra seeds. This however is short-lived as the trees invariably die. Rabbits cause all sorts of problems in gardens. They love eating plants and flowers, so cause great annoyance to those who like to keep their garden aesthetically pleasing. They have become such a major pest that just 7 to 10 rabbits can eat the same amount of food as one adult sheep, grazing on crops, grassland and young trees. Considering current estimates place the rabbit population at 35 million, growing 2 percent every year, it’s easy to see how they cause millions of dollars in damage to agriculture every year. To make the problem worse, in extreme conditions such as a drought year, rabbits can remove too much vegetation, leading to soil erosion. It is estimated that rabbit grazing will remove more seedlings in one year than would be planted in a decade of land care. Some of the species of plants being endangered due to rabbit grazing are Mulga, sugarwood, black oak, etc. What is more fascinating yet disturbing is the fact that rabbits don’t stop at grazing plants to ground level, they will dig plants up to get to moisture in roots and even ring-bark plants, all of which may cause the death of the plant and contribute to the soil erosion problem. Rabbits have had a catastrophic impact not only on the rangeland plants; but also on the fauna – both directly and indirectly. The effect of rabbits on soil erosion is difficult to measure. The removal of perennial plants by rabbit grazing will cause accelerated erosion, especially during drought. The removal of topsoil results in these areas being unsuitable for the capture and germination of seeds, so they remain bare and subject to further erosion. Even rabbit digging activities can contribute accelerated soil erosion.
Rabbit damage is not restricted to the agricultural sector. Rabbits owing to their ever-growing incisors feel a perennial need to gnaw at every opportunity that they get. This annoying habit of theirs has become a reason for wide caused damage.
Bad habits by bad rabbits cause chaos at Denver airport
on February 16, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Wild rabbits have been wreaking havoc on cars parked at Denver International Airport by eating spark plug cables and other wiring.
DENVER — Who says rabbits love eating carrots?
Bad bunnies in Denver seem to prefer chewing on car parts.
The furry creatures have been wreaking havoc on cars parked at Denver International Airport by eating spark plug cables and other wiring, according to a report by the Associated Press and KCNC-TV.
In an effort to stop the problem, federal wildlife workers are removing at least 100 bunnies a month while parking companies install better fences and build perches for predator hawks and eagles.
KCNC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Denver, says some airport visitors have sustained hundreds of dollars, even thousands, worth of damage to their vehicle
The TV station reports there’s another way to stop the damage that can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Mechanics say coating the wires with fox or coyote urine can rob the rabbits of their appetite. Fox urine can be purchased at many hunting shops.
Airport spokeswoman Laura Coale says that out of 4.3 million parking transactions in 2012, three claims were submitted for rodent or rabbit damage. None was submitted with a claim for towing.
The above incident is not an isolated one. There have been various incidences reported all over the world where rabbits have known to nibble on car wires to keep their incisors in shape.
Given the extent of damage that these creatures cause, necessary steps in the right direction must be taken so as to minimize the impact that their eating habits have on our lives. Killing them is not an option as they are a part of our very diverse eco-system and an integral one at that. A healthy rabbit population is necessary for the preservation of some species and habitats, e.g. rabbit-grazed dunes are needed for the breeding success of the rare natter jack toad, while wild rabbits are beneficial to some species of rare grassland butterflies in controlled grazing conditions. Rabbit grazing also helps prevent the colonization of undesirable species on sand dunes, and so helps sustain that habitat.
Thus a new and unique method needs to be devised to keep these jumpy mischief mongers away from our precious wires as well as garden plants. As we have already established that they are indeed an integral part of our eco-system, killing them is not an option. C Tech Corporation, an Indian company has come up with a novel solution to counteract problems caused by such creatures. They have come up with a range of non-toxic, non-hazardous environmental friendly animal and insect aversive. Their product Rodrepel®™ is a broad spectrum animal aversive majorly designed to be a rodent repellent but highly effective against other animals like rabbits and bears. It works by the action of repellence due to which it will drive away the rabbit from the application to be protected without harming the rabbit. The product is available in the form of polymer masterbatches that can be incorporated in piping for irrigation as also can be incorporated in wires and cables to protect them from rabbits. It is also available in the form of lacquer that can be applied on farm fencing, wood etc to ward off rabbits.