Rabbit Island

A small island off the coast of Japan became famous after videos of visitors being swarmed by rabbits were released online. These videos of dozens of rabbits on this island quickly went viral and begun a long list of rumors to how the rabbits first came to the island. Some say a British couple brought them decades ago, others say the rabbits are offspring of animals that used to be on the island for chemical weapon testing, although experts insists those animals were all euthanized. Although how the rabbits got to the island may be in question, they have managed to increase their population by over 30% in the last 11 years.

The fame of these rabbits brought tourists from all around the world to the island. In 2005 the island had 136,000 visitors which increased to 254,000 in 2015. This is an average increase of 11,800 tourists per year.

In general, the population keeps growing, but in the article I read by national geographic, individual rabbits are suffering. The rabbits are depending greatly on the humans to feed them, however the food tourists usually bring is actually harmful to rabbits in large quantities, like cabbage. Rabbits are also frequently run over by the vehicles on the island and suffer health issues related to human contact.

However, because the people on the island have been able to coexist with these rabbits, Takashi Seki at the Ministry of the Environment says that artificial intervention with these rabbits is “undesirable,” although it will be interesting to see how the increasing rabbit population affects the ecosystem of the island in the next few years.

4 thoughts on “Rabbit Island

  1. Fun and interesting post. I was unaware that there was a rabbit island in Japan but I looked it up and was not disappointed. It’s strange how no one really knows how the rabbits got there, or why there are so many of them. I understand the issue of them getting used to eating tourists’ food and then not being able to find their own food. Hopefully the rabbit population stays stable in the coming years.

  2. I have heard of similar instances with other animals inhabiting an island without a predatorily species to keep them in check. In a vacuum I think this is not a pressing issue but if this were to infest a larger area of land I think the ecosystem could be negatively affected. I do also find it interesting that there is a correlation of human visitors increasing and rabbits increasing.

  3. I honestly had never heard of mass amounts of one animal inhabiting small islands. It makes sense if there are no predators around and a constant flow of food coming in from humans that the species would be able to sustain themselves. Hopefully some regulations can be put in to limit the types of food humans can feed the rabbits in the years to come.

  4. Similar to Alastair’s post, I was excited to see an animal population change with a growth factor rather than a decay factor. However, it is still sad to see that individual rabbits are suffering. Seeing how this is a constant with a vast majority of species on our planet, I see this as a further call for an increase in sustainable practices and positive environmental change.

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