Noun edit. fluffle (plural fluffles). (informal) A group of rabbits.

By Michelle Swanepoel on 16th December 2023

© <a href="">Image by pereslavtseva</a> on Freepik

Rabbits are cute, right? If you're thinking about the soft, furry snuggle bunny variety contained within a rabbit hutch, they may even rank as super on the cuteness chart. And yes, they can purr!

But in the wild, things get a bit hairy. For one, their teeth never stop growing. Though rats also have teeth that keep growing rabbits are not rodents. They are lagomorphs, a species of mammal which comprises the hares, rabbits and pikas. They keep their teeth in check by chewing constantly on grass, roots, ground cover, farm pasture and crops (or your vege patch). 7-10 rabbits consume as much as one ewe, making them a considerable pest for farmers as they compete very effectively with livestock for pasture. In the Waitākere Ranges, this browsing damages our vulnerable native plants.

Then things really get wild. A single pair of rabbits and their subsequent offspring can produce a colony of more than 1,300 rabbits within 18 months. A rabbit has a gestation period of 28-31 days, and can get pregnant almost immediately following birth. It is possible for Does (female rabbits) to have more babies within a month of her previous litter, while still nursing her first litter, meaning that she can be pregnant for 70% of the year.

Their scrapes and burrowing cause extensive damage on erosion-prone soils, so much so, that agricultural land can be rendered useless. Historically, rabbit-infested farms were abandoned because owners could not make a living, and the rabbit problem became the genesis for the worst environmental disaster inflicted on New Zealand, the introduction of stoats, ferrets and weasels (mustelids). These natural enemies of rabbits preferred to eat our native birds, and rabbits became a great fall back for mustelids, giving them a year-round food source, in so doing sustaining weasel, ferret and stoat numbers and their ability to devastate our taonga species.

Keeping on top of rabbit numbers will help our native fauna and flora. The easiest control methods for rabbits includes trapping, shooting or poisoning, Pindone being an effective anticoagulant rabbit poison.

If you're having second thoughts about controlling the bunnies on your front lawn because you appreciate their super cute status, especially when performing 'binkies' (giant happy leaps, kicks and twists in midair), take a moment to consider that they also eat their own poop.

Reference source:

Rabbits. (2019).