Why were rabbits such a menace in Australia?

Why were rabbits such a menace in Australia?Rabbits became a menace in Australia because they breed so quickly and eat almost any vegetable. Three pairs of rabbits were introduced into Australia in the 18th Century. They multiplied so rapidly that, with the addition of others which were brought over, they spread over most of the continent and caused a tremendous amount of damage.

The female rabbit, or doe, produces four to eight litters of five to eight young in a year. They are blind, helpless and nearly naked at birth, but in two weeks are able to run, and in a month can fend for themselves. At the age of six months they are able to breed. It is reckoned that a pair of rabbits, given ideal conditions, could in three years have 13,718,000 descendants.

Many costly attempts to control the rabbits failed in Australia, but in the early 1950s a virus disease called myxamatosis was introduced. The virus is a specific parasite of the rabbit and is transmitted by the mosquito and the rabbit flea. It is so lethal that 80 per cent of the rabbit population had died within three years. However, by 1960, a strain of rabbits resistant to the disease was again becoming a serious pest.

They cause an enormous amount of damage to Australian farmland. But the export of their skins had proved profitable, and Australia is a principle source of the rabbit fur used commercially.

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