Key steps for rabbit control

‘Key Steps’ presents a recipe for success. All steps should be followed if possible, with adaptation to suit individual circumstances. In some cases, that might mean skipping a step.

The keys to effective rabbit control are to:


  • Define the problem. Rabbit damage
  • Measure the problem. Know your target


  • Scope the Plan
  • Develop the Plan

  • Implement selected control options.
    • Knockdown: Reduce numbers
    • Knockout: Destroy burrows to prevent breeding
    • Mop-up: Cleanout remnant rabbits
  • Follow-up: Monitor and Respond

  • Evaluate the Plan
  • Revise and Modify the Plan

Strategies for effective rabbit control are to:

  • Work at the landscape level with neighbours and like-minded organisations.
  • Deal with associated weeds and pests (especially cats and foxes), at the same time.
  • Use a well sequenced mix of biological and physical or chemical controls, (e.g. bio-control, rip, and fumigate). Biological controls will rarely be sufficient on their own.

Strategic pest management

Effective pest management is about fixing a problem. It is not about the quantum of pests removed. It involves specifying the problem, understanding the cause of the problem, and finding solutions that resolve the problem. As examples of similar problems with different solutions, destruction of planted seedlings by rabbits in a regeneration area may be overcome by using tree guards, but destruction of naturally regenerating seedlings by rabbits in a nature reserve will require the elimination of rabbits, at least until regenerating plants are well above rabbit grazing height.

In pest management, immediate problems may be solved by controlling a target species (removing the immediate cause), but longer-term solutions often require broader, more integrated, solutions to prevent a recurrence of the problem. It might mean dealing with several different pest species at once, changing management to remove the cause of the problem, and working with neighbours and resource management agencies. Ideally pest control becomes an integral part of the ongoing cycle of property management.

Adaptive management framework

An ’adaptive management framework’ is recommended practice for pest control.

It is based on a ‘plan – do – review’ approach that involves thoughtful development and implementation of a plan, along with its review and ongoing refinement in a process of continual improvement.

A Template of Questions is available as a guide through the process.

Useful resources:

pestSMART website

Rabbit Control Plan – Template