Chapter 5 Mystery
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Rabbits in Australia (Wikipedia)

The Australian Rabbit Problem

Invasive Species (from the US government)

Invasive Species in The Great Lakes


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A Plague of Rabbits

In 1859, an Australian farmer released 24 wild European rabbits from England on his ranch. "A few rabbits" he said, "could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting."

Seven years later, he and his friends shot 14,253 rabbits. In ten years, more than 2 million rabbits were hunted on that farm alone! But the hunters' glee turned into nationwide despair. That "touch of home" was soon covering the countryside like a great gray blanket. Millions of rabbits devoured native plants and pushed native animals to near extinction, impacting the stability of entire ecosystems. The rabbits made life miserable for sheep and cattle ranchers.

These cute, fuzzy creatures weren't a problem in England. Why did they turn into a plague in Australia? Could anything stop them? In this chapter, look for clues to factors that affect population growth. Then, solve the mystery.