While they are cute and cuddly, rabbits can also be a pest. In other places of the world, rabbits are notorious for their destruction of gardens, ranches, farms, and native habitats. Allowing rabbits to create a stable wild population can quickly escalate into a wide range of problems for Hawaii.
When rabbits were first introduced to Australia in the 1850s, they quickly spread across the entire continent. The first introduction started with only 13 rabbits, but today Australia has a population of over 200 million rabbits. They were the cause of the extinction of many ground dwelling mammals and plants in Australia. Besides just destroying crops, rabbits ring trees and eat any seedlings trying to sprout, causing loss of vegetation and soil erosion.
While rabbits make cute pets, they become a huge nuisance when they are released into the wild. Since 2016, more and more rabbits are being sighted on Hawaii island – and we’re asking all of our residents to keep an eye out and report loose rabbit sightings.
It is not illegal to keep a pet rabbit in Hawaii as long as it is done properly. By law, rabbits must be kept in a hutch raised above the ground. They are great escape artists so keeping them fenced in on the ground is not good enough. Failure to keep pet rabbits in a secure raised hutch can lead to a fine. If you no longer want your pet rabbit, do not release it: your local animal shelter will accept and rehome pet rabbits.
Female rabbits can start reproducing at 3 months old and can have six litters a year with up to 8 kits (baby rabbits) per litter. That’s a lot of rabbits. It’s easy to see how the population can get out of control very quickly. Rabbits aren’t native to Hawaii and can add further pressure to our already threatened ecosystems along with becoming an agricultural pest.
Download an informational rack card on keeping rabbits.
Keep your rabbits contained properly and alert us to any loose rabbit sightings!!
Contact BIISC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 933-3340 to report a loose rabbit. (Be as precise as possible with location, please!) On other islands, report loose rabbits to 643pest.org.