Did you know... the rabbits at Landguard are the Nature Reserve's equivalent of livestock!
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are abundant on the Nature Reserve and their grazing habits form an essential part of the sites management. Whilst rabbits may be considered bothersome in some environments, here at Landguard, they contribute to the management of the Reserve. Other Nature Reserves and land managers may use livestock such as sheep, ponies, or cattle to help maintain their grasslands but here we rely on the rabbits.
They are in fact a 'keystone' species, they are natural ecosystem engineers, and they provide a very valuable service by creating and maintaining microhabitats that benefit plants, birds and insects.
Throughout the year they spend much of their time grazing grass, eating leafy plants, stripping bark and digging for roots. These seasonal foraging behaviours help to maintain areas of
open habitat by keeping the grassland short, reducing invasive plant species, and creating patches of bare earth.
They promote plant diversity by dispersing seed, creating conditions for seed germination, and maintaining microhabitats that enable lichens, mosses, and fungi to thrive. In addition, with greater plant and habitat diversity many opportunities for birds and invertebrates are created.
Without rabbits, the Nature Reserve would look very different. Rabbits play a crucial role in sustaining Landguard and enhancing the enjoyment and wellbeing of visitors. However, much like nesting birds and resting seals, they are sensitive to disturbance by people and dogs, so please help us keep the Nature Reserve special and unique by appreciating the skills of these mini munching gardeners and letting them work undisturbed.