By Victoria Dickenson
From Benjamin Bunny to Peter Cottontail, the Velveteen Rabbit to the Flopsy Bunnies, the Rabbit of Caerbannog to insects Bunny and Roger Rabbit, the winsome long-eared animal is an everlasting fixture of our childhoods. we all know rabbits for his or her position in our tales, myths, and legends, and in addition for the way they helped us learn how to tie our sneakers. during this richly illustrated publication, Victoria Dickenson explores the normal and cultural historical past of the main primary of the lagomorphs.
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Cartoon from the Queensland Figaro of 2 August 1884, responding to the suggestion that a rabbit-proof fence should be built. Rabbits at a waterhole, 1938. Echoing the language of wartime propaganda, the breathless narrator warned Australians that there was ‘an army of rabbits heading for the fertile east’. Right-thinking people, not those negligent landlords disinterested in the ‘plague’ that threatened their livelihood, were called on to enlist in the ‘Rabbit War’. Repairing fences, setting traps and poison bait to stem the swarm, gassing and rooting out burrows, and snaring and shooting the vermin were acts of patriotism.
The rabbit was ‘a foe whose battalions are thousands of millions strong despite unceasing slaughter’. ’ Rabbits were vermin, plague, swarming, invading, destroying, ravaging: the enemy at the fence. While fences are no longer considered the front lines of rabbit control in Australia, the language surrounding the ‘rabbit problem’ remains unchanged, despite decreases in the wild 50 population and new tools of extermination ranging from more effective poisons to biological warfare. The rabbit is deﬁned as a ‘pest animal’ throughout Australia, and it is illegal to keep rabbits as pets in Queensland, with Au$40,000 ﬁnes for transporting them across state lines, and for selling or releasing them into the wild.
Its eyes tumorous, swollen. It targets me blindly . . 43 As it turned out ‘myxi’ was also not a particularly effective agent for long-term control. 44 After the ﬁrst epidemic rabbits quickly began to develop an innate resistance to the disease, and mortality rates in some areas of Australia fell from 99 57 to 40 per cent. Increasingly virulent strains were introduced to the population, but the canny rabbit adapted to a modus vivendi with the virus, and populations once again increased in many areas of Australia.