Rabbits in Queensland: Friend or Foe? Essay

Rabbits should be brought back to Australia but only known as pets as long as the animal has been dissected. Since 1859 rabbits were known as pests throughout Australia. Thomas Austin introduced these animals for sporting hunters, but with no natural predators and rabbits breeding five or more babies, seven times a year; there for a rabbit plague. Nothing was done to prevent this disaster until the 1950’s when CSIRO introduced Myxomatosis which is a diseased formed by the virus called Myxoma.

This killed millions of rabbits until 1995; when the rabbits became resistant to the disease. By 1995, there was an estimate of three million rabbits, still healthy and breeding. CSIRO where determined to find another solution to the plague. In March 1995, a quarantine station as set up off the coast of South Australia to test rabbit calicivirus, which had kept rabbit populations down in Europe. The virus was due for release in 1998 but after 6 months, it escaped from the island most likely carried by insects.

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As the rabbits disappeared from Australia, the barren landscape flourished once again. Since the rabbit plague, no rabbits have been allowed in Queensland and even though the plague was widely spread throughout Australia; Queensland has been the only state that still abandons rabbits today. This is due to rabbits having a major impact on the environment as a whole and Australia’s native flora and fauna.

Research in recent years has shown that children that are brought up with pets (such as rabbits) are less likely to become asthmatic, more likely to be kind to others and more likely to have a healthy self-esteem. Research has also revealed more benefits, claiming that interaction with pets (such as rabbits) can positively influence children’s physical and emotional development, even their scholastic achievement. These findings were presented at an international conference hosted by the Society for Companion Animal Studies, (SCAS) in Leicester.

Dr. June McNicholas; a health psychologist and senior research fellow did an experiment with 338 children and stated that 85 percent viewed their pets as a playmate and over half watched television with the pet beside them. Another presenter at the SCAS, Sue Dawson presented a detraumatization project and her studies showed that having empathy towards animals helped children who has experienced trauma. As rabbits do need quite a lot of attention and affection from their owners, rabbits would also help the children learn responsibility, develop iscipline and handle life situation, such as emergencies, illness and even death. Children even communicate with their companion animal more freely than with humans in their lives because the animal (such as rabbits) eliminates the fear of rejection. According to Elizabeth Ormerod, chair of SCAS, children tend to form special bonds to their companion animal, making their relationship a vital part of their life. “For many years, the valuable role of pets in children’s development has been recognized.

But recently, the positive health, educational and therapeutic benefits of pets have been scientifically investigated and acknowledged,” Ormerod said. The SCAS was formed in 1979 by a group of doctors, social workers and veterinary surgeons from Britain and USA to promote interest in human-companion animal relationships. Even though rabbits have done a lot of damage in the past life throughout Australia; having a furry “bunny” as pet that is dissected (so there will be no breeding) would be a healthy and realistic idea. Queensland should not be the only state in Australia that still bans rabbits today.