The Tasmanian Rabbit is, astonishingly, not a rabbit at all but a marsupial donkey, seven or eight times the size of the domestic or homebody rabbit.
The Rabbit, easily identifiable by its large horizontal brown stripes and its piercing, inchoate cry, has proven itself a nuisance to those attempting to convert the island’s harsh and rugged forest into productive paddocks, fields and swards. While it does not pray on crops or livestock – its natural diet is disease-carrying insects snatched from the air and detritus from the soil – the Rabbit annoys Tasmanians aesthetically, cluttering the landscape with unexpected appearances and trampling over bush flower arrangements.
Deacon Pilt of Murrumbidgee, who recently visited what is increasingly becoming known as the ‘beet sugar isle’ due to its prosperous industries soon to rival the cane sugar crops of the Kimberley, writes: ‘I disembarked at Strahan on the 10th, a delightful town marred only by the presence of the radical Country Women’s Association, a group apparently committed to establishing the right of women to form an association which, by its very title, excludes the stronger sex.
‘Whilst walking along the main street, I saw some unusual animals, striped horizontally in brown and otherwise a sandy colour, catching mosquitoes. I inquired of a local larrikin (ill-dressed in dungarees and carpet slippers) the exact nature of the beast, to which he replied, “Them’s the Tasmanian Rabbit, surr. I can sell you some pelts my family has varnished.’ I did not enquire where his kin had varnished to, but instead bundled him into care lest he, too, should varnish.’
The Tasmanian Rabbit doe has up to seven kittens at a litter, and carries them in a pouch below her head for the first twelve months of their life. She nests at ground level in the warm craters that dot the surface of Tasmania, while the male brings her food which he regurgitates from a hollow inside his snout. The kittens are mature at 17 months.
See also: Country Women’s Association, Referendum on; Flower Arrangements; Strahan, Tas