Warren ripping and fumigation

Newspaper ad for  'Cynogas' and the 'Buzacott' foot pump blowerThe rabbits preferred burrowing in the light sandy soils and loam of good cropping and pasture paddocks. Huge colonies of rabbits dug out warrens to the depth of about 1.5 metres. They made the paddocks useless for crops, as they caved in if trucks or tractors were driven over them.

Les McNaboe recalls: "They took over all the land, the rabbits. Practically everywhere you went there was rabbits. They made the good ground dangerous - I've had that many spills off horses that I couldn't count, through them falling into rabbit burrows."

Warren ripping was a common method of ridding the land of rabbits. A horse, tractor or truck would pull a plough over the warren to expose and destroy the network of tunnels.

"On the light land, we used a crawler tractor to drive on top of the warrens and spin the tractor around. In the hot dry weather the sand used to go down and suffocate them. It was very successful, but it was a dusty old job," explains Les McNaboe.

Rabbit eradication worked best if farmers cooperated with their neighbours and carried out their control programs at the same time.

Fumigation was another commonly used technique. The entrances to a rabbit warren would be blocked with soil, and poisonous gas would be pumped in. There were many poisons and hand or foot-operated pumps available to make the job easier.

Lyn Broad recalls: "Some farmers, with a small burrow, would just use their vehicle and carbon monoxide - just leave a vehicle idling nearby with a hosepipe from the exhaust into the warren. Of course, that gas is heavy, and it would settle into the bottom of the burrow. That was reasonably effective."