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Two types of biological control are used in Queensland to control rabbits:

  • rabbit calicivirus disease and
  • myxomatosis.

Rabbit calicivirus disease

Rabbit calicivirus disease (also known as rabbit haemorrhagic disease) is a virus specific to rabbits that first appeared in domestic rabbit farming enterprises in China in 1984. The virus is fast-acting and is spread by contact with infected rabbits and through insect vectors.

Biological control of rabbits with rabbit calicivirus disease is a cost-effective method of dealing with a large infestation. However, other methods such as harbour destruction and baiting should be incorporated in a control program to maximise success and to prevent the problem of emerging disease immunity.


The myxoma virus was first discovered in rabbits in South America in the 1890s. The introduction of the myxoma virus to Australia in the early 1950s resulted in a spectacular reduction in the rabbit plague. However, landholders generally failed to take other physical and chemical action to maximize control, which resulted in the development of immunity in surviving rabbit populations. The virus is no longer produced commercially but still exists in most rabbit populations as mild recurring strains.

Last updated 01 July 2016