The Easter Bunny has been an important part of Easter celebrations all over the world, but Australians have often questioned its suitability for our nation. In Australia feral rabbits are a major environmental problem and in most states it is illegal to own a rabbit.
The reason for the rabbit being a pest goes back to the settlers who brought it over from the Northern hemisphere. Many were released into the wild so that they would breed and then provide food on the dry plains. Unfortunately, no one realised how well the rabbit would breed and adapt to the harsh climate. The huge rabbit population competes against the native fauna for food and so threatens their existence. It also has devastating effects when they feed on our native flora.
The Australian government has gone to major lengths such as the huge Rabbit Proof Fence along the Northern Territory's border to try and control the rabbit population. Things such as bringing in an assortment of viruses and also culling, have been tried, however they remain a major problem.
In recent years the Bilby has been put forward as a new Easter symbol. The Bilby is a native Australian animal that has become endangered. It is a small rodent with a long nose and tail, however it shares one feature with the rabbit, and that is her ears! The Easter Bilby is becoming more common on our supermarket shelves alongside the traditional rabbit and most manufacturers donate some of the proceeds from Bilby sales to saving the Bilby.
So, what does a Bilby look like?
Here she is, cute little critter huh?
Where can I buy achocolate one?
Stores everywhere in Australia are stocking them. If your local shop doesn't, ask them why not? Maybe they will get some in for you.
How can I introduce them to my family?
Ceremonies are being held in some schools where the Easter Bunny has officially handed over her basket of Easter Eggs to the Bilby, announcing the new custom. There are children's books also available on the Easter Bilby, and story tapes to play in the car. Perhaps you can visit a Bilby at the zoo, or even a wildlife park.
Bilbies have a horny spur on the end of their tails, hidden in the white tufty bit. It's as sharp as a roosters foot spur, but nobody knows why the Bilbieshave them!
Bilbies are from the same family as Bandicoots!
A Bilby's large ears act like coolant towers, radiating excess heat out and away from their bodies.
In the wild they get all their water from their food - seeds, insects and fruit - and don't have to drink.
To defend themselves a Bilby can only hide. Their eyesight is bad, but their smell and hearing are good, so if they get wind of a predator they can hide in time. Otherwise...it's curtains.
Find out more athttp://www.easterbilby.com.au
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