Flopsy now without licence

23 Feb, 2001 10:00 PM

PERMITS are no longer required to keep domestic and commercial rabbit breeds.

The Agriculture Protection Board (APB) has changed the classification of domestic pet and commercial rabbits to enable them to be kept by households without restrictions.

However, keeping wild rabbits is still prohibited.

Agriculture WA animal pests project manager Marion Massam said the deregulation of domestic rabbit keeping requirements was a more practical arrangement.

"These changes mean that people no longer require permits, inspection approvals or audits to keep domestic pet rabbits or breeding rabbits," she said.

"People have been allowed to keep pet rabbits since 1986 and there has been very little evidence of domestic breeds establishing in the wild and having an impact on agriculture and the environment."

Ms Massam said there was little risk that pet or commercial rabbits vaccinated against rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) would result in resistant populations in the wild.

"The vaccine used for RCD cannot reproduce in the host and therefore cannot spread to other rabbits," she said.

"The level of protection against RCD from the vaccine may also wane over time, which is why pet owners and breeders use annual boosters. The offspring of vaccinated rabbits also become susceptible to RCD at about 10 weeks of age, like the offspring of non-vaccinated rabbits."

Ms Massam recommended that people continue to contain their pet rabbits in escape-proof, insect-proof hutches to ensure that the rabbits do not cause damage in their own or their neighbours' yards, which would also reduce the chances of their pets catching myxomatosis or RCD.

The WA Rabbit Council has welcomed the deregulation of rabbit keeping.

Council secretary Jenny Buckingham said the body promoted responsible rabbit ownership and with deregulation the Council would be better placed to continue its educational role.

"We feel that local laws and the new Animal Welfare Bill will ensure that domestic rabbit keeping is adequately controlled and yet allow our members to continue to participate in their chosen hobby," she said.


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