The World's Worst Invasive Mammals
Animals as common as goats, deer, rabbits or mice can have a devastating effect on other wildlife
- By Jess Righthand
- Smithsonian.com, December 20, 2010
Four European rabbits sitting in the snow (© Juniors Bildarchiv / Alamy)
Popular pets and a source of meat, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are native to the Iberian Peninsula. Phoenician traders introduced them to the wider Mediterranean, and rabbit populations have since become established in Africa, Australia and the Americas, where their persistent burrowing and overgrazing erodes soils and threatens native species. Rabbits are especially a problem on the 800 islands where they were introduced as food sources or tourist attractions, such as New Zealand’s South Island. If populations aren’t controlled on these islands, the rabbits have the power to wipe out every last bit of vegetation.