In Australia rabbits have been considered ‘pests’. For this reason, wild rabbits, including companions dumped by humans, are subjected to forms of biological and chemical warfare. This commonly takes the form of developing, introducing and spreading diseases such as Myxomatosis. People who have seen poisoned or diseased animals are often extremely distressed. Chemicals commonly used include Pindone. After ingesting, rabbits can take over two agonising weeks to die (6).
Since the release of these viruses and poisons most rabbit meat is purpose bred and intensively farmed (1). Game rabbit is still killed and sold, but there is no way of detecting if the wild rabbit had been poisoned with Pindone baits, or is affected with Calicivirus, or Myxomatosis. The consumption of these animals could be detrimental to human health.
Myxomatosis can also affect battery caged rabbits. It is illegal to vaccinate any rabbit in Australia against Myxomatosis. Intensive farms are required to insect proof their facilities to ensure outbreaks of the virus do not occur (1). However, investigations by Animal Liberation revealed that many farms have no insect proofing and that insects regularly resided inside the sheds. Insect numbers were high as they are likely attracted by the amount of faecal matter build up.