Australians will spend $157 million on chocolate this Easter, with rabbits topping the list of our Easter favourites.

Given rabbits cause extensive damage to our landscape and wildlife and cost governments billions of dollars to manage each year, it really doesn’t make economic or ecological sense to promote the purchase of bunnies.

Celebrate Bilbies rather than Bunnies this Easter (and every Easter) and help conserve this unique Australian marsupial.

A little bit about the Bilby

The Bilby is a burrowing bandicoot and is now largely restricted to the drier regions of Australia.

It has distinctive long rabbit like ears, a long pointed snout and slender tongue. The Bilby has soft hair that is silky and blue/grey in colour, a white belly and a tail that is black at the base, changing abruptly to white. The underneath of the tail is furless while the top has a ridge of longer fur. The tip of the tail is also furless and has a spur at the end.

The Bilby has strong forelimbs which it uses to dig for food and to dig the burrows in which it lives. Bilbies remain in their burrow during the day and leave when it is dark. They use their acute sense of smell and hearing to locate food as their vision is quite poor.

In the early 1900s the Bilby was quite common throughout most of the Australian mainland however its range has been contracting at a rapid rate since then. Predation on the Bilby by cats and foxes has greatly reduced its numbers, as has grazing by rabbits and livestock and the fragmentation of its territory by land clearing. Now classified as vulnerable on the national status register, the fate of the Greater Bilby is hanging in the balance (source).

A relative of the Greater Bilby, the Lesser Bilby is now extinct despite being considered to be common in its range at the beginning of the 1900s.

Here are 3 reasons why you should choose Bilbies over Bunnies this Easter:

1) Your purchase helps conservation efforts to protect our Bilbies
There are several organisations in Australia working tirelessly to conserve Bilbies. Most manufacturers of chocolate Easter Bilbies donate proceeds of the sale to organisations focussed on Bilby conservation.

A portion of every sale of chocolate bilbies with the ‘Save the Bilby’ logo is donated to the Save the Bilby Fund. The Fund receives 30 cents from the larger bilbies and 30c from a pack of ten.

This year South Australia’s iconic Haigh’s Chocolates celebrates its 20th anniversary of the Haigh’s chocolate Easter Bilby. Proceeds from the sale of every Haigh’s Easter Bilby are donated to the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia (RFA).

2) Your purchase promotes education about wildlife conservation
Gifting an Easter Bilby helps raise the profile of this vulnerable marsupial. The more aware people become of its plight, the more people are willing to help.

3) Your purchase increases national pride in our wildlife.
Australia is home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world, yet we also have the worst record for extinction. Easter Bilbies not only raise awareness of the vulnerable state of our wildlife, they help everyday Australians, many who rarely escape their city dwellings, take national pride in our wildlife.

Not a chocolate fan? You can still get on board!

Adopt a real live Greater Bilby here this Easter and every cent you donate will go directly to the Arid Recovery Project in South Australia to conserve the Greater Bilby. This project is just up the road from where I live and I can personally recommend the quality of work they do to undertake research and conserve our arid wildlife. They have won countless awards over the past twenty years and are recognised as a national leader in wildlife conservation.

Save the Bilby Fund also runs a Bilby Buddy program where you can adopt a Bilby. Click here for details.