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Control

There are a variety of methods employed to control rabbits, from gassing to snaring, netting and shooting.  But for the householder that is troubled by occasional rabbits rather than the landowner who may employ professional controllers the simplest methods is trapping.

Cage traps are effective where:

  • Where burrows are difficult or impossible to access.
  • Where pets and other animals may be at risk from other methods of control.
  • Cage trapping is particularly appropriate where a small number of rabbits are causing damage to high value crops.
  • In a garden situation where 5 to 10 rabbits are causing a problem, set a minimum of four traps.
  • Traps should be about 10 paces apart and parallel to the harbourage from which the rabbits are coming.
  • Make sure the trap is firmly sitting on level ground
  • If the ground is sloping, face the trap door downhill.
  • Carrots are the best bait but apple and turnip are also effective if you need an alternative.
  • In order to quickly and cleanly dispatch the rabbit, hold it up by its rear legs so its head is facing down towards the ground, and using a heavy stick, strike the back if its head with a firm and hard blow. That should kill it instantly, but follow this up with a second blow to make certain.
  • Description

    Rabbits are not rodents as many believe, they belong to the order Lagomorpha. They are native to the Mediterranean area, and were only introduced to Britain in the 12th or 13th century.

    They live in a system of burrows, known as a warren, but will also live under sheds, in rubble and in piles of dead tree roots and branches. They eat a wide range of herbage and are attracted to agricultural crops that are nutritious and plentiful.

    The main breeding season is January to August but autumnal breeding is becoming more common with the arrival of warmer winters. Females start to breed at three to four months. Gestation is 28-30 days and females produce four to five litters a year. Breeding success is lower in high density populations and higher in low density, so a reproductive explosion can be expected following a period of control.

  • Buck rabbits are about 48cm long; does are slightly smaller with a smaller head.
  • Greyish brown fur with orange tinge at the nape of the neck.
  • Short tail, black on the top, white underneath.
  • Long ears but unlike the Hare, no black tips.
  • Black and ginger rabbits are common in large well established colonies.
  • Lifecycle

  • Rabbits can breed all year round, but the normal breeding season lasts from February to August.
  • The doe digs a special burrow away from the main colony and lines it with grass and fur pulled from her own belly.
  • The young are born naked and blind.
  • They grow quickly and after 3-4 weeks they leave the burrow and fend for themselves.
  • Each female can produce 3 to 6 litters per year of about 5 kits in each litter.
  • Predation is very high and fewer than 10% reach adulthood.
  • Wild adults seldom survive for more than 18 months.
  • Habitat

  • Rabbits are grassland feeders and cause considerable damage to farmland arable and grass crops in Britain.
  • They graze closer to the ground than sheep and consequently areas subject to intensive cropping by rabbits becomes unavailable for sheep to graze.
  • They feed mainly during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk, but adults also feed throughout the night.
  • Rabbits live in established underground warrens, in colonies from 2 or 3 individuals up to massive colonies of several hundred individuals.
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