Fast breeders

2019-03-06 08:18:08

By Debora MacKenzie CLIMATE change could spread a lethal plague that would wreak havoc among Britain’s rabbit population. The disease is already common in southern Europe. Rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) was first recognised in China in 1984, after arriving in imported German angoras. It then wiped out 140 million domestic rabbits in China. The virus probably originated in Central Europe and spread across the continent. Italy lost 64 million farmed rabbits to the virus in 1986, while Spain now imports wild rabbits to provide targets for hunters. In 1995, the virus was let loose—probably deliberately—in Australia and New Zealand,