Critter Control: Rabbits
Rabbits love to eat, and they love to breed. They are most active in early morning and late afternoon. They generally stick to a small territory, and rarely venture very far (more than a few acres) from home.
If you've got a rabbit problem, you've got a rabbit problem. It only seems to get worse because they reproduce so rapidly.
Almost any tender garden morsel will do, although they like carrots, peas, beans, beets lettuce, strawberries, many flowers, and even young tulips. Also, wild grass, clover and tree bark. They don't like corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash.
Rabbits nip foliage off cleanly, leaving short, stubby stems standing where tall, healthy foliage once stood proudly. Rabbits chew on the bark of trees at the base of the trunk, similar to mice. The trunk is often scarred with teeth marks, and as a result, it becomes more susceptible to insect and disease damage.
Apply a commercial repellent like Liquid Fence, Shake Away, or Rabbit Scat for effective control. Spray the area to be protected thoroughly with Plant Shampoo first.
Mowing, cutting brush, and general cleanup of overgrown areas will go a long way toward eliminating rabbits.
- Certain planting practices can minimize rabbit damage. Soybeans can be used to lure them from the main crop. Onions and garlic can be interplanted with lettuce, peas or beans to keep them away. Also, tansy, rue, and rosemary interplanted in flower beds are repellents, and may make the area generally undesirable for four-legged visitor.
- There are many materials that can be used as rabbit repellents.
- Paint your young fruit trees with animal fat in the fall. Rabbits are vegetarians, and will not touch this material (the down side - it may attract rodents).
- Rabbits shy away from the odor of dried blood or blood meal, so you can sprinkle a thin line of this material around the edges of the garden to protect it.
- Shake raw ground limestone, wood ashes, ground pepper, chili powder, talcum powder, or Cayenne pepper on plants when they are wet, applying them evenly and lightly with a discarded kitchen flour sifter.
- Tobacco dust is also an effective control, but it must be applied sparingly.
- An effective rabbit repellent can be made by dissolving 7 pounds of tree resin in 1 gallon of denatured alcohol. Let the mixture stand in a warm place for 24 hours, stirring to dissolve the resin. Paint or spray it on dry tree trunks in the fall. Spray trees 2 feet higher than the expected snowfall drift line.
- Protect trees from damage by making hardware cloth guards. Form the cloth into cylinders about 2 inches larger than the diameter of the tree trunk, long enough to protect the tree above the depth of the deepest snow expected. Anchor them in the ground at the base of the tree.
- The best protection from rabbit damage in a garden is a tight chicken wire fence. One-inch mesh wire 30 inches high is adequate if held firmly upright by stakes. Portable chicken wire frames can be used as a temporary measure to protect young cabbage, tomato, and pepper seedlings.
- Live-trap rabbits using carrots, cabbage, lettuce, or apples as bait. Release them in an appropriate area.