Status: Completed

Start date: 21 June 2017

Completion date: 21 August 2019

Project code: CT-69

Species: European rabbits


Rabbits have a number of parasites that are specific to them and that can impact their survival through direct mortality, or by impacting on physical condition or potentially exacerbating the impacts of other rabbit diseases such as myxomatosis or rabbit haemorrhagic disease.

This project used genetic testing to assess and validate the distribution of Eimeria intestinalis and Eimeria flavescens – recognised as the most pathogenic rabbit coccidian parasites in Australia – as a new rabbit biocontrol agents.

Eimeria are intestinal parasites and the two most pathogenic species were previously only recorded in a few isolated populations of rabbits.

Key achievements


  • The project sampled the intestines and faeces of wild rabbits from 26 locations across Australia.
  • Genetic analysis found the most pathogenic Eimeria species, E. flavescens and E. intestinalis, were more widely distributed than had been recorded previously, being found at 90 and 50 per cent of locations, respectively.


  • Of the two Eimeria species, E. intestinalis was not as widely distributed, and further work on its utility as a biocontrol agent may be warranted once further sampling is undertaken to validate its distribution.

Project team

Dr David Peacock

Project Lead | PIRSA

John Kovaliski


Adam Croxford

Susan Campbell


Dr Tanja Strive


Dr Tarnya Cox


Project partners

This project was funded through an external research grant separate to Portfolio No. 1 project funding.

Scientific publications & reports

Peacock D, Croxford A, Iannella A, Kovaliski J, Lavazza A, Cooke B, Spratt D, Strive T, Taggart D, Campbell C, Robinson S and Sawyers S (2022) Using genetic analysis to determine the distribution, prevalence and diversity of Eimeria species in pest rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia
Parasitology International 91.