It’s never a good idea to mess with the balance of nature. Australia learned that lesson the hard way, and it all began with such a harmless creature.
In the 1850s, both domestic and wild rabbits were introduced to the isolated country. But the European settlers who imported them had not considered several key factors:
(1) absence of large predators,
(2) plentiful food and
(3) the habits of rabbits.
The rabbits spread across the landscape, from Victoria and New South Wales to the Northern Territory and Western Australia. They ate the countryside clean, destroying vegetation and endangering species like the bilby and bandicoot.
Eventually – and if you’re tender hearted about bunnies, stop reading now – the Australians had to take drastic measures. Over the years, during the 20th Century, they have introduced “biological control agents” to impair the rabbits’ fertility, or spread lethal diseases.
If this seems extreme, consider the numbers: the initial 24 wild European rabbits introduced in 1859 were estimated to have produced the 1920’s population: 10 billion bunnies.
Why “revenge of the rabbits”? The reason they were initially brought to Australia was for the purpose of being hunted.