A few years ago I wrote a series about our house in the country and they were recorded by Kim Dodsworth. I thought I might paste some of these notes on this blog.
Last week I sighted a rabbit. Now this may not seem important enough to warrant a report. Except that a warning ran down my spine. A decade ago we were overrun by bunnies that were immune to both calicivirus and myxomotisis. Every so often we’d glimpse a black rabbit. Local lore has it that these black bunnies are a throwback to a European ancestor and that sighting one heralds a plague year. How true we found that to be.
That year our only growth area were rabbit proof fences. This was because our bunnies bred according to Malthusian law… a law which argues that unrestrained reproduction of any species will result in geometrical doubling, tripling ad infinitum. Those hungry rabbits chomped through our veggie patch, dug into our flowerbeds, ravaged our lawns, ringbarked our fruit trees, excavated our driveways and played ‘chicken’ with our car. At dawn and dusk hundreds of buck-toothed bunnies sat around munching and gas-bagging whilst depositing mounds of little black and brown droppings, which I suppose is the rabbit equivalent of dirty plates, used glasses and over-flowing ashtrays.
In previous years our local foxes had dined splendidly on ‘lapin a la chasseur’. Sometimes our foxes extended their menu to include bush rats, possums, echidnas, the odd chook, and any bird, bat, sugar glider or flying fox silly enough to hang around after hours. However in an effort to return this area to its original state, koalas and wombats were released into the bush. When the foxes took to kibbitzing the koalas and worrying the wombats, they had to be destroyed. And with no natural predators to keep their numbers down, our rabbits bred… well, they bred like rabbits.
Only lack of food and bad weather reduced the population to a manageable status and the rabbits on our block either drifted away or died of old age.
But that rabbit I saw last week could herald another plague. Would someone please tell him, or her, that our village is no longer Watership Down, and that he’s definitely unwelcome. Or find me an Australian Pied Piper to lure him away.