To many people, the image that comes to mind at the mention of a rabbit is a soft, fluffy cute bunny; for children, the image may be caricature of a rabbit carrying a basket of eggs or even of the cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. But for those who have and love their gardens, the image that comes to mind may be of a destructive wild rabbit that eats up their gardens. Although all are strong images, the one we addressed here is that of the destructive pest.
There is no doubt – rabbits are cute, fuzzy and soft, but not when they are in your garden. If you walk out into your favorite yard or garden one morning and see that it looks like someone snipped off the stems of your plants with angled cuts and mowed your plants and lettuces, your property has likely been visited by a bunny or two.
Signs of rabbit activity
These furry critters tend to feed at night. While you may not spot rabbits in your garden, you will see evidence that they’ve been there:
- Look for pea-sized droppings in small piles or scattered around the garden.
- Inspect shrubs and outbuildings for signs of digging, bedding down, or tufts of fur caught on branches or buildings.
- Examine chewed plants. Rabbits have both upper and lower incisors, so when they feed, they create a clean cut. Vegetation almost looks like it’s been trimmed with hand clippers.
- Suspect rabbits when plants completely disappear overnight, especially when they’re young, tender shoots, such as pea, Swiss chard, or pepper seedlings.
Natural methods of prevention
Frankly speaking, there is no season of the year when the appetites of these destructive animals don’t cause some problems. In spring and summer, rabbits eat flower gardens and plants of vegetables. In fall and winter they damage valuable woody plants. Do rabbits dig holes? Yes. They do. What’s more these destructive animals can cause serious damage to your buildings by digging under the foundation. Rabbits can even cause problems in town cemeteries by burrowing beneath gravesites. Getting rid of rabbits can be a difficult undertaking. The best means of controlling damage is by discouraging rabbits’ presence and preventing their access to plants. Remember, complete extermination of rabbits is not desirable. Individual plant protection and professional rabbit control will help you to outwit rabbits without doing them harm.
If you have witnessed the damage caused by pest rabbits, you are probably ready to try these methods of rabbit prevention:
- Ensure that your garden is not rabbit friendly
The first tool of prevention is to minimize multiple hiding spots in your garden. If you have a vegetable garden, ensure no woodpiles or gardening equipment is present. Eliminate dense shrubs, brush of wood and stands of tall weeds. Making the habitat less pest-rabbit-friendly will surely keep pests out of your property.
- Scare them away with the scent of predators
Strong scent of a predator – this can instantly drive pesky rabbits away from your garden plants. You can sprinkle pet or human hair, dried blood meal or cat litter in a defensive circle around shrubs, garden beds or trees. A tip to consider: Replace sprinkled deterrents every week or whenever it rains.
Chemical and mechanical methods of prevention
- Use chemicals
Place soaked-in-ammonia rags around your garden. Odor repellents containing potassium salts, naphthalene or ammonium are very effective if you want to prevent rabbits eating grass or plants in your yard. However they shouldn’t be used around pets. So we suggest only using these repellents labelled for garden use.
Keep in mind: Repellents can lose effectiveness and need to be renewed periodically. Reapply them after watering or after it rains.
- Fence them out
When it comes to the first stage of making your property rabbit – free, fencing is the best option. It works well if you want to exclude rabbits from a certain area. Fencing is impractical over large areas but very good for small areas – like home gardens, hay sheds and high value crops. Though fencing method is often expensive, it has such advantages as: Fencing is a human method of rabbit control; Fencing can provide a rabbit-free area. If you don’t want your grass to turn into mud pit and spend hundreds of dollars on several liquids we suggest installing fence.
Keep in mind: Rabbits can easily dig under your fence. To prevent them from doing this, the wire mesh component of the fence should be buried at least seven to ten inches in the ground.
- Use garden fabric (targeted coverage)
If you have a distinct plant of shrub that you want to keep safe from rabbits, you can cover them up using a garden fabric as this can be used as a barrier from pests.
- Use repellents
Repellents have offensive-to-rabbits smell and taste. Garlic Clips, granular repellents or fish emulsion will encourage pesky rabbits to leave your favorite garden and forage elsewhere. Repellents will be ineffective if there is nothing tempting nearby. Most repellents – especially liquid ones – need to be reapplied after heavy rains. Pellet or powder-forms repellents should be scattered across areas that bunnies regularly travel. Most repellents must be re-applied. However there are some commercial repellent formulas that withstand rain.
- Set traps
When used alone, trapping is not considered an effective method of rabbit control. Why? The population of rabbits will quickly recover and you will need to repeat trapping year after year. We suggest using trapping in combination with other methods of rabbit control. Traps should be placed on a flat surface. A live rabbit trap should be large enough that the majority of the rabbit’s body can fit inside – not including the tail – before reaching the trigger plate. Again, rabbit’s trap should be small enough – without too much extra space – so the animal won’t move around.
- Scare them away
A predator – real or fake – will help any gardener to deter rabbits from the garden. If you don’t have a backyard dog, purchase a decoy animal predator. Permitting natural predators, such as hawks, foxes, snakes, and owls, to remain active in your yard or neighborhood can help control rabbits. A pet cat can help, too, especially against young rabbits.
- Use loud noises or unexpected movement
Loud noises or unexpected movement can drive rabbits away. You can use motion activated sprinklers, fake owls, etc.
- Electronic Repellents
Being the newest innovation in human rabbit control, electronic repellents provide convenient ways of rabbit control in the yard/garden. Electronic repellents are versatile and can repel a wide variety of pest animals including rabbits. They save you money. Although electronic repellents are expensive they help you to save a great amount of money. You don’t need to reapply the products, and fewer repellents are required to repel nuisance animals in your garden. They are safe. No need to apply poison and harmful chemicals.
- Individual plant protection
Use 1/4- to 1/2-inch-mesh poultry netting to create cylinders to protect new trees, shrubs or vines. Again, the fencing should be buried to prevent burrowing and the cylinder should be at least 2 to 4 inches greater than the diameter of the plant and braced away from it to prevent rabbits from pushing the netting and reaching through to nibble.
- Habitat modification
If you have found evidence of rabbit nesting, remove it, and modify or block off the area to keep them from coming back in. Proactively reduce nesting options by removing low shrubbery branches that provide harborage for rabbits; eliminating tall, dense vegetation and wood and debris piles; controlling vegetation along fence rows; and sealing spaces beneath buildings.
- Plant selection
Just like people, rabbits prefer certain foods over others. By growing plants they dislike, or placing such plants next to the ones they do like, you may discourage feeding. Plants rabbits tend to avoid include:
- Vegetables: asparagus, leeks, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes
- Flowers: cleomes, geraniums, vincas, wax begonias
- Herbs: basil, mint, oregano, parsley, tarragon
If the information you have found here has helped, feel free to read more about rabbits on: Information about Rabbits and How to get rid of Rabbits.