Image Preparing to skin rabbits, Queensland, c1920s

TLF ID R9215

This black-and-white photograph from about the 1920s shows a young man outdoors preparing to skin five rabbits that hang on a chain suspended between shoulder-high fence posts. The man is sharpening a long knife and is wearing a long wrap-around apron, boater hat and shirt with rolled up sleeves. A rifle stands upright against one of the fence posts.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Rabbit-ohs such as the man in this photograph were an important source of inexpensive meat in Australia from the late 19th century to the 1930s, selling fresh rabbit meat door to door and skinning them while the customer waited. In plague proportions since the mid-19th century, rabbits were so common they were regarded as the food of the poor, selling for sixpence a pair in the 1930s and equalling lamb and mutton exports by 1948.
  • In the 1950s and 60s rabbit meat declined in popularity and thus rabbit plagues became more of a threat. Early efforts to curb the rabbit population included shooting them, fumigating and deep-ripping their warrens, offering bounties for dead rabbits, laying metal traps and poisonous baits, hunting them with ferrets and packs of dogs and building rabbit-proof fences. The most effective means by far have been the diseases myxomatosis (deliberately released by CSIRO in 1950) and calicivirus (accidentally released in 1995).
  • Rabbits, Australia's most destructive introduced species, have caused large-scale losses in agricultural production since their introduction near Geelong in Victoria in the 19th century. They have caused some farmers to abandon their properties due to the permanent degradation of pastures, erosion and reduced land values caused by the rabbits' feeding patterns and their capacity to create massive burrows.
  • While not enough to offset the damage done to agricultural properties, the rabbit-processing industry was of economic importance to the nation in the 1920s and 30s. Valued for their meat and pelts, the plague-proportion rabbits provided employment for trappers on large properties and for workers in rabbit-canning factories, freezing companies and the export trade. The main market for canned rabbit meat was the UK. The pelts were used in the USA for hats.
  • This photograph records an image in a domestic situation, at the time a relatively recent possibility due to the proliferation of new lightweight portable cameras. The new amateur photographer was interested in recording family and social life, sport and leisure. The introduction of simple box cameras and flexible celluloid film, specialist photography shops and developing laboratories meant a sizeable market developed.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements