How to legalise an outlaw rabbit?
November 29, 2010 1:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm seeking community advice on the legality and costs involved in keeping a pet rabbit in Brisbane, Australia. Perhaps ostensibly for use in magic acts.

I have a friend who has been keeping a pet albino bunny rabbit. This started as a favour to another friend, but (for reasons beyond the scope of this question) she is now feeling some obligation to keep the bunny permanently.

The only way that we're aware of that this can be done legally is by obtaining a permit to "keep a declared pest for public display in magic acts," for which this is the application form.

We have a number of concerns about this approach:
(1) Apparently the fine for keeping a pest animal in QLD is in the region of $30,000. If an application is made at this point, would there be a risk of being charged for such an offence, even as a consequence of trying to legitimise the situation?
(2) To what extent would the state authority go to in order to verify that the animal was actually be used in a magic act? My friend is (coincidentally) a stage performer, but by no means a magician. Is there a risk that this approach will lead to hijinx in which she will need to moonlight as one?
(3) It will also be necessary to desex and obtain public liability insurance to cover the bunny. Even approximate costs of these have been difficult to find online - does anyone know a ballpark figure for either?

Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. I've never had to familiarise myself with the legal issues involved in owning a magic bunny before, but it's been turning out to be a reasonably interesting topic!
posted by chmmr to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps it's different in qld... But in victoria it's perfectly legal to keep a pet rabbit. Keeping a wild rabbit as a pet (different breed, for a start) would be somewhat more contentious and less fun. As for the magic, you're on tour own there.
posted by jojobobo at 2:52 AM on November 29, 2010

On your own. No tour.
posted by jojobobo at 2:53 AM on November 29, 2010

Response by poster: Nah, no pet rabbits in QLD. This magic act thing is the only loophole I know of.

Shame of it is, I'm moving back to VIC in a week, but my friend isn't! (And I don't want a pet rabbit.)
posted by chmmr at 3:15 AM on November 29, 2010

Judging by what was easily available on the net, your facts are current: you cannot keep a pet rabbit, the fine can be up to $30,000, and the exceptions are limited to research and certain forms of entertainment such as stage magicians.

I would suggest that they are not likely to issue you a special permit based on some shaky "I'm a magician! I just never work anywhere!" claim, and they probably wouldn't be happy to issue a special permit even if you were a verifiable working magician in these days of animal-free circuses and high public awareness of the environmental dangers of invasive species.

But contact current Australian rabbit owners at the addresses to be found here and here, and see if they can find a way for your friend to keep the rabbit or give it to a current owner who knows how to take care of the regulatory stuff.
posted by pracowity at 3:24 AM on November 29, 2010

...and think about a magic kitty to pull out of your hat. I was going to suggest a ferret, then I discovered they are also mega illegal to keep in Queensland.

Guinea pig?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 3:32 AM on November 29, 2010

If it's illegal to keep, I'd guess you're also going to have trouble getting the rabbit's annual vaccinations (scroll down) done in Qld.

My feeling about the possible fines is that a magistrate is unlikely to hit you with the full 30k for looking after someone else's pet rabbit. But I'm not a lawyer.
posted by Ahab at 5:58 AM on November 29, 2010

Best answer: I haven't been an active member for several years, but you may want to try asking this question on Etherbun -- largest online community of pet rabbit owners in existence, AFAIK. And I know there were Australian bunny folks on there when I was an active member, so there probably are still some.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:20 AM on November 29, 2010

One of my kid's friends had a bunny in Brisbane. The vets called it a "Long-eared guinea pig" and still gave it the medical care it required.
posted by b33j at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your replies guys, those pointers have been really helpful. Ultimately the decision's been made to pass her on to a friend who's bound for a more bunny-friendly state.

How such a cute little creature can be considered a dangerous pest is beyond me, but I guess when you've got a million or two of them to deal with...
posted by chmmr at 7:10 PM on November 29, 2010

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