The Good Life: Protecting the Babbits

Rabbits have long since been considered a pest in Australia. I mean, the longest unbroken fence in the world was built in the country to keep the rabbits out of precious farming territory.

bilby

The Greater Bilby, endangered in Queensland.  Photo courtesy of DHP

Besides, there’s well documented evidence that the introduction of rabbits can vastly alter the ecosystem. Heck, the adorable little rabbit is believed to be responsible for the decline of several Australian native species such as the Greater Bilby through habitat destruction.

It is no surprise that the Australian government works to control the feral rabbit population through regular releases of biological agents like the Calicivirus[1] (aka Rabbit Haemorrhagic Diseases). In fact, a planned release of the virus is happening across 1,000 sites across Australia as we speak!

For those of you not in the know, the Calicivirus is a very nasty killer. It basically makes your rabbit bleed out internally, until it finally dies from the stress. BUT! A vaccination for this horrible disease does exist and is available at most local vet clinics! Both Bonnie and Clyde are regularly vaccinated against Calicivirus, so they’re covered in the event of a planned release.

img_3739

Bonnie and Clyde after being vaccinated.  They’re very upset about the whole situation, but it’s for their own good!

That being said, it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions to protect the rabbits from the dangers of horrible diseases. Both Calicivirus and Myxamatosis are spread by flies and mosquitoes, so you should take steps to insect-proof any rabbit play areas.

To protect our precious bunnies, The Boobook and I lined Bonnie and Clyde’s outdoor hutch with UV protected mosquito netting. It’s a little bit expensive, but at least it’ll keep them safe.  Plus, we’ve lined the bottom with thick gauge chicken wire so that they can’t dig their way to freedom and get themselves hurt.

IMG_3428.JPG

Mosquito-proofed babbit home!

So, now our babbits are free to dance and play in the sun and are safe from the virus come rain or shine!  If you’d like more information on how to protect your rabbits during this viral release, RSPCA Australia has some very useful information and advice available.


[1]Calicivirus is pronounced Khaleesi-virus, but doesn’t have anything to do with dragons, unless you count the fact that it kills kinda messily.

Advertisements

Howe to Kille Insects

I have a fruit fly problem.  Ever since I planted the strawberries, my balcony has been inundated with a never-ending stream of the little monsters.  To make matters worse, I’ve got a mosquito in my bedroom as well, which has been keeping me and my poor little rats up at night every night for the past three months at least.  I’m currently averaging at one mosquito slapped to death every three days.

Since I have pet rats, I’m not a particular fan of insect sprays a most of them are pretty bad for the environment and humans too.  Ultrasonic mosquito botherers are also right out of the question since they tend to drive animals crazy with their high-pitched whining and apparently don’t have a very good track record.  Citronella oil has a pretty good success rate at driving mosquitoes away, but has to be reapplied quite often.

No, I’m in the market for a more permanent solution to my flying insect blues.  Thus, the plan.

Step 1: Penny

Penny Dreadful.  I would have named her Audrey, but she's no Venus Flytrap

Penny Dreadful. I would have named her Audrey, but she’s no Venus Flytrap

This is Penny.  Penny is a very hungry and very thirsty little pitcher plant that I purchased from Newtown Garden Market.  Right now, practically all her pitchers are filled with a combination of drowning fruit flies and some sort of insect slurry, which is good because it means that Penny is eating well.

When choosing a carnivorous plant, I really wanted to go for quantity over quality, and pitcher plants really have one of the highest fruit fly killing rates.  Being a swamp plant, they’re very thirsty and also need plenty of shade, but are otherwise ridiculously easy to care for – just mix up some peat and sphagnum moss, stick them in a self-watering pot and Bob’s your uncle.  As a plus, there are also pitcher plants native to Australia, though Penny isn’t one of them, which is unfortunate.

Step 2: The Dip

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Dip is a nasty greenish mix of turpentine, benzene and acetone guaranteed to kill any toon that it touches[1].  On my balcony, the dip is a mixture of apple cider vinegar, soap and water placed in a wide-brimmed container.  This mixture is guaranteed to drown fruit flies in the tens of thousands.

Death... DEATH DEAAAAATTTHHH Mwhahahahaha

Death… DEATH DEAAAAATTTHHH Mwhahahahaha

Fruit flies are attracted to the dip because of the apple cider vinegar, which basically smells of fermented fruit.  However, landing on the dip results in instant fruit fly death as the decreased surface tension of the water causes them to sink right into the mixture, drowning horribly while I cackle in glee.

For best results, use a lemony soap, but don’t overdo it on the vinegar or the mixture won’t work.

Step 3: Electrical Mosquito Sucky Trap Thing

Mosquito Sucky Death Trap of Doom and Doominess.

Mosquito Sucky Death Trap of Doom and Doominess.

This electronic marvel comes to me courtesy of Droo, who discovered it on the Jaycar website and brought it to my attention.

This fantastic device comprises of a fan, several UV lights and a titanium dioxide ring.  Titanium dioxide reacts to UV by breaking down organic matter like bacteria into water and carbon dioxide.  The lights create a small amount of heat.  The heat, water and carbon dioxide attracts passing mosquitoes, who being weak and slow flyers, are sucked into the device by the spinning fan.

Once inside the device, they can NEVER escape again, and will spend the rest of their (brief) lives in the bottom of the device being swirled about by the cruel crosswinds of fate until they die from dehydration.  Mwahahaha.

Seeing as there’s about 10 mosquito corpses in the thing, I do believe it actually works.


[1] RIP little shoe guy. You didn’t deserve your fate.