Controlling Rabbits

Rabbits can do considerable damage to valuable plants in your garden. Wild rabbits will eat your flowers and vegetables and can inflict serious harm on trees and shrubs of all sizes by clipping stems, eating buds and branches or by removing the bark on large trees and girdling them.

A wild rabbit will live an average of about 2 years and when fully grown will weigh between 2 and 3 lbs and be less than 12 inches long.

In the early spring rabbits begin to reproduce. A female rabbit can produce three or four litters per year with four to six babies in each litter. Over a period of five years, a single pair of rabbits and their offspring would number about 350,000; hence the phrase "breeding like rabbits”.

Rabbits can be active throughout the day, but are most active at dawn and dusk. A prime habitat for rabbits is one that has a lot of natural cover in which to hide, nest and eat.

Rabbits are vegetarians, with their diet consisting of about 90% grass. A rabbit will eat almost any type of vegetable during the summer and during the winter will eat mainly tree buds, twigs and bark.

Rabbit tracks can easily be identified because rabbits have five toes on their front paws and only four on the rear.

There are a number of methods to control the damage done by rabbits including rabbit repellents and live animal catch traps.

Q: I have a live catch rabbit trap. What should I use as bait for the rabbit?

A: Place the bait at the end of the traps. Baits that work well include brussels sprouts, carrots, lettuce, and apples. Alternatively, spray the inside of the trap with apple cider.

Q: I have a rabbit that has been eating all the spring buds off a small tree. What can I do to stop the rabbit from eating and killing my tree?

A: If you are looking to stop a rabbit from eating either plants or trees, there are two different sprays that you can use. Deer Away works on a number of animals including deer, rabbits and squirrels by tricking the animal into thinking that the food in the area is rancid. Deer Away gives off a slight smell that animals can sense, but humans cannot. It is not harmful for the animals – it discourages feeding on the plants and trees that have been spayed. Deer Away is unique because it binds directly to the plant and does not get washed off in the rain. Normally it lasts about 2 months before it needs to be replenished.

The other spray that can be used is called PlantSkydd. It was developed by the Swedish forestry service and uses both taste and smell repellency. Plantskydd tricks the animal into thinking that there is a predator in the area and encourages them to leave and find another area in which to forage for food. Plantskydd comes in a spray version as well as a new granular format that can be sprinkled on the ground around plants that are being eaten by rabbits.

Q: How can I stop rabbits from nesting under my front porch?

A: To keep rabbits from nesting under your porch, it is best to use either a scare tactic such as fox urine to get them to leave the area or fencing which physically prevents them from getting under the porch.

Q: Can fencing or netting be used to keep rabbits out of my garden?

A: Yes, fencing or netting can be used to discourage rabbits from eating vegetables and other garden plants. However, the fencing has to be very securely put into place as rabbits can squeeze through very small openings. It also need to buried into the ground to prevent rabbits from burrowing under the fence.

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