The very best approach to eliminating a rabbit problem is to move to a high rise apartment in New York City or Chicago. Rabbits don’t do well with stairs and are not adept at pushing elevator buttons. Too extreme? Keep reading.
Making a Rabbit-Proof Fence
Keeping rabbits away from your outdoor vegetation (including trees – they also eat bark) requires a multi-channel approach for maximum effectiveness: fencing, repellents, live traps, guards, and distractions. If it’s legal in your area and you enjoy the flavor of rabbit stew, you can adopt the “pioneer approach:” sit by your window with a rifle or shotgun and pick them off one-by-one. We’ll start with the fence.
To fence your garden, you will need 36-inch chicken wire of sufficient length to encircle the area. Plan on placing wooden or metal stakes about every four feet and rig up some kind of gate that the long-eared interlopers cannot get through or under. Your local building supply person can give you tips on that. If you have another notorious garden pest in your area, deer, you will need a taller fence made out of something sturdier than inch-mesh chicken wire.
Dig a trench 6-12-inches wide and about four inches deep before placing the stakes. Bend the bottom three or four inches of the chicken wire into an L-shape, with the bottom of the ‘L’ on the ground, stretching away from the fenced area and bury it. This will keep burrowing bunnies from getting through. (More tips on how to build a wooden fence)
To protect trees, wrap quarter-inch hardware cloth around the base of young trees. You can tell when rabbits are attacking your trees, typically in winter when there’s little else to forage, by the marks left by their two large incisors (picture Bugs Bunny biting on a tree trunk).
If you want to get really medieval on Thumper and his buddies, consider installing an electrified fence, which does not have to be buried. The mild electric jolt will send the pests scurrying to your neighbor’s garden.
Even with a fence, it’s a good idea to surround your garden with thing that emit odors that the rabbits hate. The most widely used items are garlic and lavender. They don’t like the odor of catnip, either, so plant a border of the stuff around your garden. Foxglove and monkshood also work because rabbits know they’re poisonous (maybe not a good idea if you have kids, though). These plants also tend to repel deer. Another alternative is to spread a concentrated garlic powder called Pro-Tecs. Camphor is also widely used, but not recommended. Though these animals hate camphor, spreading moth balls or anything similar around your property effectively coats your entire property in poison which can cause problems for you, your pets, your garden, and ground water.
One or two rabbit-hating (or rabbit-loving) dogs on the family estate will also discourage rabbits and deer, but only while the dogs are outside running about. Once the dogs go inside the house, the varmints will be back. Forget about cats. Australia once attempted to get a handle on its out-of-control feral rabbit population by releasing hundreds of cats into the wild. Mice may not have fared well, but the rabbits continued damaging native plants, and thumbing their paws at the cats, until a virus deadly only to rabbits was introduced. It worked, but that is not a control method available to you.
Humane live traps, like the virus used in Australia, may not be legal in your area. Why? Because they present the problem of what to do with the rabbit once it’s trapped. Very few people are crazy about the idea of having new rabbits introduced to their land. But, if humane traps are legal, one could come in handy. Properly baited, you can catch Peter and friends and quietly introduce them to your brother-in-law’s garden across town, where you know they’ll be happier. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the idea of disposing of a four-legged corpse, there are also traps that, Fudd-style, will kill the wabbit.
If you happen to love your wild little visitors and have a live-and-let-live philosophy, why not go ahead and fence off your future fresh food supply but also plant lettuce and the other kinds of food they like outside the fence for the fluff balls to enjoy? Keep in mind, however, that rabbits are voracious. They can level a field of lettuce in days, so you’ll have to continuously set out new plants for them, especially when they begin inviting their extended families – very extended – to join them at your rabbit soup kitchen. Your neighbors will probably stop inviting you over for barbecues too. On the other hand, should you definitely not want the creatures trespassing, clear the grounds of grass and shrubs that would attract them. If you enjoyed reading this article, you’ll surely enjoy learning how to get rid of mongeese.
* You’re sure to catch rabbits with these tips, but what if they’re too adorable, and you want to keep them? Don’t worry, here’s how to build a rabbit hutch where you can keep your new found pet.
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