Australian man gathers snakes, uses them to catch invasive rabbits

YouTube/Screen capture

Not long after rabbits were first introduced to Australia - where they are an invasive species - and began decimating farmlands, the government offered a reward to anyone who could devise a way to exterminate them. But over 150 years later, after countless attempts to thin their numbers with bullets, poisons, and bombs, hungry rabbits continue to do millions of dollars in damages to croplands.

But one brazen conservationist is proving that firepower and toxic chemicals aren't the only way to bag the problem bunnies -- instead, he's enlisting the help of some of the deadliest snakes on Earth.

Environmental science graduate Andrew Ucles, in a video recently uploaded to YouTube, demonstrates his ballsy technique for catching rabbits, one that taps into the natural relationship between predator and prey.

"Now there's a little bit of a trick that I'm going to be showing youse today," says Ucles. "It's how to catch rabbits, using snakes. It's a bit tricky but I'm going to show you how."

Here's the video; it's a little long at 6:53, but well worth watching:

All told, Ucles manages to capture four snakes, by the handful, to flush out a rabbit holed up in a burrow network: three red-bellied black snakes, and a tiger snake -- both which quite venomous. After depositing the serpents into the bunny's hideout, the invasive pest was eventually driven to the surface, captured, and later released.

"I told you it was a possible technique," says a gleeful Ucles as he hoists his catch. "I told you it was."

Although this method for catching rabbits is obviously quite dangerous and time-intensive, it's certainly an interesting approach to combat invasive species with the help of native ones -- which, in light of the occasionally bloody and inhumane alternatives used in the past, seems more in line with how a balanced ecosystem might keep wildlife populations in check.

And considering that Australia's rabbit problem was actually human-caused, it's nice to see that a more naturally-minded approach could be used to help solve it.

Tags: Animals | Australia | Conservation