How Rabbits Invaded Australia

The British elites, who were trying to colonize the Australian continent, took rabbits, also called European rabbits, with them to the lands they traveled to. These bunnies caused one of the greatest invasions of all time.

Biologically speaking, a species that extends over an area that is not its natural habitat. invader is called. The greatest invasion of land mammals in history involves a much smaller and more endearing species, despite our species’ great interest in spreading and exhausting all resources: in rabbits.

An English nobleman who took part in the colonial movements passion for huntingHaving little knowledge of rabbits, no knowledge of the habitat of the Australian continent, and perhaps an inability to solve the problem of exponential growth, caused a serious rabbit problem that persists to this day. How so? Let’s examine it together.

British settlers went to Australia with rabbits: why?

When we look at the history of the world, we see that from time to time countries have entered into a fight against various animals. Once upon a time, China waged war on sparrows and Australia waged war on ostriches and lost. The heaviest defeat is probably Between Australia and rabbits came into the fight.

about the world today 65 countries He gained independence from British captivity. A semester British Empire succeeded in spreading all over the world. It is a known fact that they try to establish their own culture wherever they go.

One of Britain’s greatest hobbies is hunting, which makes people call it a hobby. The settlers want to continue hunting wherever they go. For this reason, in the 1800s, Thomas Austin thought to himself 13 european rabbits He wants to be sent. He spends his time hunting rabbits that he releases in his vast fields.

The number of rabbits is increasing exponentially

european rabbit

The most told story about exponential growth is, chessboard and wheat is the story. In the story, a sultan wants to give someone a prize, he asks the person who will receive the prize what he wants. The person who will receive the prize wants to put twice as many grains of wheat as the previous one on each square of the chessboard, with 1 grain of wheat in the first square. After a while, the wheat stops growing, 1-2-4-8-16… at the end of the job billions of wheat Homework.

Rabbits have a similar situation. first of all 6 pairs of rabbitsif these rabbits have an average of 4 puppies per year and give an average of 3 puppies each time, the number is 72 puppies and 12 adults in one year. go to 84. A year later, the same process is launched, this time with 84 rabbits. I do not tire you to calculate the result: the number of rabbits living on the continent in 1920 over 1 billion arrived. (The exponential calculus logic also explains why the trio of mask, distance and hygiene matters in the pandemic, but that’s for another article.)

The rabbit invasion begins across the continent…

rabbit infestation

By keeping rabbits in your garden to hunt in huge fields later let the rabbits roam not the same thing. Rabbits suddenly spread from one backyard to the entire continent in just 50 years. There are two main reasons for this: they have no natural enemies and they reproduce very quickly.

Many scary creatures live on the Australian continent. Among them giant spiders, snakes, crocodiles There are such types. Come see that most of these creatures don’t know rabbits and rabbits are not part of their diet. There is no other creature controlling the rabbit population that does not have natural enemies.

Another factor is the enormous reproductive potential of rabbits. Rabbits from a young age can reproduce. Since they can reproduce throughout the year, they can reproduce more than 4 times a year. In each litter, 2 to 5 new baby rabbits are born.

There is no more harvest in the fields:


The rabbit crisis is getting so bad that settlers against rabbits and the locals start an all-out war. Although millions of rabbits perish every year, the general rabbit population is almost unaffected.

overgrazed rabbits for the plants to grow and he began to prevent them from producing crops. Moreover, their damage was not only that, they also endangered the native plant and animal species of the continent. wild rabbits to dry land was the cause.

Even the longest fence in the world couldn’t stop the rabbits. in 1901 1,837 kilometers of fence The government, which did this, still could not prevent these small rodents. When conventional methods did not work, biological weapons were used against rabbits.

Biological weapon?


Although the European rabbit was taken to other countries, it did not survive on all continents. For example to south africa The rabbits that were taken had problems with the myxoma virus. This virus, unique to rabbits, was a very effective rabbit enemy.

Australian authorities, in the 1950s began to release the rabbits, they injected this virus into the wild. More than 90% of the members of the species have perished because of this virus. In addition, farmers destroyed rabbit holes and tunnels they found, as they do today. With this event, for the first time, a virus was deliberately directed towards the species for the control of an animal species.


First Tasmanian Devil born in Australia after 3,000 years

The remaining 9% of the small rabbit population are against this disease. developed immunity. They could then reproduce so much that they represented 40% of the endangered population of the species. In addition to this, another virus RHDV used. This virus was carried by flies. Although it is a virus that acts very quickly, especially in arid regions, it could not cling to places where flies do not live and in rainy regions.

Even today, everywhere on the continent to fight rabbits. viruses, poisons, weapons, various materials is being used. Yet it would be too ambitious at this point to say that Australia has won this war.

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