Warren modification, or ripping, is the total destruction and collapsing of rabbit warrens. Warren modification stops rabbits readily accessing burrows for shelter and breeding and can significantly reduce rabbit impacts and suppress rabbit population for long periods (up to 10-15 years).

Warren modification is best used as part of a broader program of best practice rabbit management, following baiting to reduce your rabbit population by 90-98 per cent.

Large and powerful tracked machinery such as bulldozers, excavators and log-skidders are used in a rabbit control program, enabling land managers to achieve exceptional efficiency and efficacy.

There is a wide choice of machinery available for warren destruction (Figure 1):

  • heavy earth moving machinery, e.g. 150-200 HP (D6) to 300 HP (D8) bulldozers
  • medium-sized machinery, e.g. 20-30 tonne excavators
  • modified machinery, e.g. 200 HP articulated log-skidders.
A warren modification program is best undertaken in late summer and early autumn, following a baiting program. At this time rabbit breeding has ceased, food availability is low, and the dry soil can increase burrow collapse.
Fumigate and close any re-opened warren entrances.

Effective long-term control can be achieved if ripping leaves the warren unsuitable for re-colonisation. Large numbers of warrens can be treated effectively and weeds can be controlled at same time. However, it is costly if not done properly the first time.

Legal obligations: Landholders must be careful to avoid further damage to the environment (including waterways) and Aboriginal cultural heritage sites when using machinery.

Be aware of your legal obligations and obtain the necessary permits. If you are unsure, seek advice from Agriculture Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Aboriginal Victoria or your local council.

Dial before you Dig: Ensure underground services such as telephone, power, gas and water are not in areas to be ripped.

Neighbours: Rabbits won’t stop at your property boundary. Aim to coordinate a local ripping program with your neighbours to reduce costs, reduce reinvasion of rabbit populations and achieve long-term results.

Manage woody weeds: Remove weeds as part of your program; this will limit harbour for rabbits to shelter under.

Warrens depths: Knowing the depth of burrows within a warren can help determine what combinations of ripping practice could be implemented. By digging a trench through the centre of several warrens within different soil types, the warren profiles become visible (Figures 2, 3 and 4).

Soil types: Soil type and moisture are important factors affecting the collapse of warrens. It is important to carry out ripping when soils are dried out in late summer before the autumn rain, which is aligned with the optimal time to control rabbits.


For more resources and information on controlling rabbits:

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Cultural Heritage Awareness

Landholders must be careful to avoid further damage to the environment (including waterways) and Aboriginal cultural heritage sites when using machinery. Be aware of your legal obligations and obtain the necessary permits. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage may be found during works at any time, at any place. If suspected heritage is discovered, work is to cease and a Preliminary Report Form must be completed and sent to If you are unsure, seek advice from Agriculture VictoriaDepartment of Environment, Land, Water and PlanningFirst Peoples – State Relations (formerly Aboriginal Victoria) or your local council.

More Rabbit Control Methods

The information provided by this website is intended for general information only and should not be relied on or used as a substitute for professional advice for your particular situation.

Before undertaking any weed or rabbit management, always obtain advice from a qualified expert, with respect to your own situation. Always read and follow the label before using any of the products mentioned and ensure that you are undertaking weed and rabbit management in the appropriate conditions and in the appropriate manner.

We do not guarantee this website is without flaw of any kind, or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes, and therefore disclaim all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information contained on the website for any purpose.

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