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The Rabbit in Australia

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The story of the European rabbit in Australia must surely be one of the most amazing examples of an animal's ability to colonise a new land. Just how and why this happened makes a fascinating study.

This film traces the history of the rabbit from its evolutionary home in the Mediterranean through to its introduction into Australia as a source of food and sport and as a reminder of the English countryside. The rabbit population explosion began about 1860, and within 30 years, rabbit numbers had reached plague proportions over large parts of southern Australia. The long battle to control the rabbit had begun.

With the introduction of Myxomatosis in 1950 came the start of a big research effort aimed at a complete understanding of rabbit behaviour and ecology. Not many animals have ever been studied in such detail, so that we now have a much better understanding of how rabbits feed, breed and survive in different parts of Australia.

The film shows some aspects of social behaviour, reproduction and predation. It shows that, while rabbits were ideally suited to Australia's temperate areas, they have also adapted to living in arid country and even in alpine regions.

Produced in 1979.

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00:01:37 | Night - headlights, spotlight, rabbit hunters shoot at rabbits
00:02:03 | Title over rabbit hunters shooting rabbit
00:02:15 | Rabbits in field amongst thistles
00:02:39 | Spanish village, outdoor markets, hilly treed landscape, rabbitin sandy soil, imperial eagle, wolf, European lynx.
00:04:28 | Stills - historical, rabbit hunters, Norman boats
00:04:45 | English rural landscape, warrener's store house, constructedmounds, pub signs
00:05:26 | Rabbit in hutch, 2 Beatrix Potter rabbit books and illustrations
00:05:39 | Stills - Early settlers arriving in Australia, colonial scenes,Record of Acclimatisation society of Victoria
00:06:05 | Graphics - map of Australia, Still - clipper 'Lightning'
00:06:22 | Property near Geelong - Thomas Austin, drawings rabbit shooting,map - rabbit distribution
00:07:02 | B/W - Mounted drover releases pair of rabbits in bush
00:07:27 | Rabbits on land stripped of cover
00:07:38 | B/W stills - rural landscape, rabbit drive
00:07:56 | Rabbit fence in arid landscape
00:08:05 | Print - government reward offered, map - Sth. America, stills SAresearchers, rabbits, diseased rabbits
00:09:03 | Stills - boy with dead rabbits, trappers, fences of dead rabbits
00:09:16 | Begg's rabbit drive in 1948,
00:09:48 | Still - injecting rabbit, print headlines
00:10:18 | Rabbits feeding around warren
00:10:48 | Researcher watching rabbits from observation site, tagged rabbits,various activities, droppings, rabbits chinning soil, fighting
00:13:47 | Inside burrow, female carrying dry grass to nest, rabbit fur linesnest, birth of young, grooming young
00:14:53 | 2 kittens, hand held, 10 days old, 21 days old
00:15:09 | Young rabbits on study site, brown hawk with rabbit, observer, rabbitnibbling grass
00:16:00 | Sheep in field, rural landscape, sheep in dry grass, rabbit eatinggrass
00:16:30 | Feral black cat stalking and leaving warren with struggling rabbit,fox chasing rabbit, bird of prey with rabbit
00:17:42 | Rabbits on snow covered hill
00:18:11 | Rabbits in sparse vegetation in mountain area
00:18:40 | Salt impregnated pegs, rabbit licking peg
00:18:58 | Arid sandy inland area burrow in sand, man pulls nest lining fromraided burrow
00:19:31 | Burrow in stony ground, dingo, bird of prey, rabbit on stony ground,no vegetation
00:20:06 | Mudlark wading at edge of pool of water, rabbits on stony soil,new vegetation
00:20:19 | Researcher in office with plan of arid area
00:20:34 | Graphics - soil types, warren positions found in different years
00:21:07 | Ripping up burrows in arid area with tractor
00:21:34 | Rabbits infected with myxomatosis, mosquito on rabbit fur
00:22:10 | Rabbit in cage, CU ear showing rabbit flea
00:22:36 | 1080 Poison Notice on tree, poison being laid in field from Landrovertowed trailer, dead rabbit
00:23:21 | Rabbit sitting up, observer, rabbits feeding, running
00:24:16 | End