Heatwaves: How rabbits respond

A future climate with more heatwaves could leave rabbits more exposed to heat stress and predators – that’s one of the insights from a recent study at Arid Recovery’s wildlife reserve in South Australia.

Monitoring collars were fitted to rabbits and bilbies in the reserve to record their location and activity, and the temperature and humidity of their surroundings. Studying their behaviour during heatwaves could indicate how each species will fare under under a warming future climate.

Early results from the study conducted by Katherine Moseby and Jack Bilby (UNSW), show that wild radio-collared rabbits are consistently exposed to higher temperatures and lower humidity than bilbies. It seems that rabbits are coming to the entrances of burrows, or leaving them altogether, to avoid the humidity of warrens; while bilbies remain deeper underground. Further research is now underway to confirm these results and provide additional behavioural information.

See the Project Summary for more information.

Temperatures and humidity experienced by rabbits & bilbies. Source: K Moseby 2023.

Posted in About Rabbits, Research, RFA and tagged , , .