Keep rabbits from eating the landscape
Rabbits live about two years in the wild, but during that time, may breed a dozen or more bunnies. They are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Aside from grass, they’ll munch on young, tender veggies, annuals and perennials and the stems of low-growing shrubs and young, thin-barked trees.
In the vegetable garden, rabbits tend to favor green beans, peas and lettuces. They are less likely to eat corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, although if rabbits are very hungry, they may eat these too.
Here are some tips to protect your gardens:
- Key to control is removing a rabbit’s habitat, such as tall grass or weeds along fencerows and piles of brush. Rabbits are not particularly smart about where they build their nests. In early spring, they frequently build them in tall grasses in the yard, where they can be found and destroyed by the pet dog.
- Apply a rabbit repellent, available at garden centers, hardware stores and online retailers. Some repellents contain the urine of coyotes or other predators, and can have a strong smell. They might need to be reapplied after every rain. Repellents may be applied directly on the plants or on the soil surface surrounding individual plants or along the perimeter of the vegetable garden or flower bed. Always read and follow the label directions.
- A live trap captures the animals without harming them so they can be released elsewhere. This works best when the trap is placed where rabbits feed and when it is camouflaged with a dark cloth. In winter, be sure the trap faces away from prevailing winds. Bait the trap with apples, carrots or other vegetables.
- The most effective control is a fence around plants or gardens. A 2-foot tall fence made of chicken wire or hardware cloth will do the trick. It can be installed as a permanent feature or as a seasonal barrier.
For more information about controlling rabbits in your area, check with your county extension agent. You can find a local extension office online at: www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/