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Pest animals

Australia's native plants and animals have adapted to life on an isolated continent over millions of years.

Since European settlement native animals have had to compete with a range of introduced animals for habitat, food and shelter. These pressures have also had a major impact on our country's soil, waterways and marine ecosystems.

In Australia, pest animals typically have few natural predators or fatal diseases and some have high reproductive rates. As a result, their populations have not naturally diminished. Pest animals can multiply rapidly if conditions are favourable.

Foxes and feral cats

Foxes and feral cats prey on a number of small to medium sized mammals, birds and reptiles. As a result, they have led to the decline in numbers or disappearance of a number of native species.

The most effective way of decreasing fox predation is through exclusion fencing and large scale baiting. To be effective, baiting must be ongoing and must consider the effects on native animals.

There is currently no effective technique for controlling feral cats on a broad-scale.


Rabbits compete with native animals for food and habitat, damage vegetation and expose soil to erosion. They ringbark trees and shrubs, and prevent regeneration by eating seeds and seedlings. Their impact often increases during drought and immediately after fire when food is scarce and they eat whatever they can.

The ecological changes caused by large numbers of rabbits may have contributed to the extinction of several small ground-dwelling mammals and to the decline in numbers of many native plants and animals.

Rabbits are most effectively managed by integrated programs involving warren ripping, fumigation and poison baiting.

Red-eared Slider Turtle

The Red-eared slider turtle has previously been found in the wild in and around the metropolitan areas of Melbourne. This species competes with native turtles for food, basking sites, nesting sites and suitable habitat. The turtle is classified as a controlled pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

Reports of the red-eared slider are critical to protect Victoria from the establishment of the species. If you think you have found the red-eared slider turtle report it immediately to 136 186 or email With reports of high risk invasive animals, please take a photo and record as much information as possible such as when, where, how the animal was sighted. Go to for further information.

Exotic grazers

Exotic grazers (e.g. feral goats, horses, deer and pigs) are not as widespread as foxes, cats and rabbits. Their impacts on the natural environment are similar to rabbits.

Goats, deer and pig numbers are controlled by shooting. At some locations, programs which aim to eradicate local populations are in place.

More information

Agriculture Victoria: Pests, diseases and weeds