Pest animals are animals that have come to Australia from overseas and cause a significant negative impact on native flora and fauna. Mammals, birds, insects and reptiles can all be pests in the environment.
Foxes and rabbits in particular cause a large amount of damage to our native flora and fauna, including the disappearance of native plants and animals, erosion and land degradation.
A member of the canine family, foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were introduced to Australia in the mid nineteenth century. Two releases in 1871 at Ballarat and Geelong resulted in the establishment of the species. They are now present in all states and territories. Melbourne has the highest density of foxes per hectare of all urban areas worldwide. There may be more than 14 foxes per square kilometre in some urban environments (Department of Primary Industries Landcare note – Foxes: control in urban and urban fringe areas). A vixen (female fox) can give birth to between 1 and 6 cubs and they can breed from 10 months of age.
The fox costs Australia an estimated $228 million per year (2004) in both environmental and agricultural impacts and control.
Foxes are present across the City of Greater Dandenong. Preying on small mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs; nothing is safe from this number one predator. Council has implemented a baiting program in bushland reserves of very high environmental importance and quality.
If you would like to know more about the fox and its control in urban and urban fringe areas download the Department of Primary Industries Landcare note – Foxes: control in urban and urban fringe areas.
Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were introduced from Europe in 1859 and have caused major economic and environmental impacts in Australia. The rabbit problem costs agriculture and the environment millions of dollars each year. In 18 months a single pair of rabbits can multiply to 184 individuals. This high reproduction rate has been disastrous for the natural environment.
Rabbits out-compete native fauna for food and shelter, leading to the dissapearance of many native animals, including the Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) and Pig-footed Bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus). Native plants are very attractive to rabbits at certain stages of their life, and the local extinction of flora species can be directly related to the presence of rabbits.
Rabbits cause erosion through chewing vegetation and during construction of burrows. Rabbits also provide a constant food source for feral cats and foxes.
Rabbits cause a problem in local bushland reserves and parks, feeding on new plants from community planting days; naturally regenerating plants in remnant areas and digging up sports grounds and ovals. Tree guards are used in newly planted areas where rabbits are present to minimise damage and loss of plants. Annual rabbit baiting is also carried out in a number of reserves and parks with in the City of Greater Dandenong. For more information on Council’s rabbit control program call 9797 1757.
Cats are a threat to native fauna. A cat’s native instinct is to hunt and kill. This instinct has seen the cat contribute to the disappearance of many ground dwelling birds and mammals. By keeping your cat indoors at night and providing a collar with a bell you will be helping to protect our precious wildlife as well as keeping your cat safe. Being a responsible pet owner is one way you can look after our native fauna and biodiversity values.
For more information on feral cats download the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts feral cat fact sheet
Bees and wasps
Bees and wasps are dangerous to humans, and also prey on and out compete native bees for hive sites and pollen sources.
If you see bees or wasps in a public area on council property, please call 9239 5100.
Bees and wasps on private property are the owner’s responsibility to manage.
Visit Council’s Bees and wasps webpage for more information.
Indian Mynas (Acridotheres tristis) are listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. In Australia they are a major urban nuisance, especially when they roost in large numbers. Mynas also have a serious negative impact on our biodiversity.
Many native species of fauna use hollows (holes in trees) as nesting sites. The reduction in large old trees due to clearing means that hollows are in short supply. Myna’s compete with native fauna for these hollows and will destroy eggs and chicks to stop native species from breeding. Small mammals such as Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps) and larger birds like the Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) are not immune from harassment.
For more information on the Common Indian Myna.
For more information on pest animals visit the Department of Primary Industries website.