Rabbits might be cute and cuddly rodents anywhere else, but when they’ve invaded your yard and garden, they quickly go from adorable to nuisance. There’s no need to fret over these rodents, though! There are lots of ways to protect your garden from nibbling pests or convince these cute grazers to go elsewhere. It’s possible to deter and prevent rabbit damage in ways that are safe and humane for your local wildlife and your home.
Spotting Rabbit Damage
You might not always catch rabbits in the act, but the telltale damage they leave behind will be a sure warning that you’ve got a rabbit problem. If you’re spotting green sprouts nibbled to the ground or see their small pellet-shaped droppings on the ground you’ll know that you have rabbits frequenting your home. Rabbits also have a destructive habit of gnawing, working away on the bark of trees and branches, and even things like garden hoses, furniture, or shoes.
While many other pests will gnaw away at your yard and eat tender plants down to the soil, finding rabbit droppings is the key way to know that you have a rabbit problem.
How to Keep Rabbits Out
If watching cartoons with Bugs Bunny taught us anything, its that rabbits are smarter and craftier critters than we give them credit for! Trying to keep rabbits out of the yard without resorting to nasty chemicals can be a challenge, but is definitely possible.
Chicken wire is a very basic but extremely effective defence against your local rabbits. After all if they can’t get to your garden, they can’t cause damage and might choose to start looking elsewhere.
Chicken wire is easy to use, and should measure at least 2 feet high to prevent bunnies from hopping over and should be set at least 6 inches below ground level to discourage burrowing underneath. Choose a wire that is ½ to 1 inch mesh.
Poultry netting can also be effective to protect vulnerable shrubs and trees, especially when they are young and at their most tempting to rabbits. Keep the netting a few inches away from the plant to prevent pushing the fence in to catch a nibble and follow the same height and depth guidelines as a fence.
Making your garden less appealing to rabbits is a great way to try to make sure that they choose somewhere else to feed. Reduce natural nesting options like low lying shrubs and dense vegetation that will make them feel more comfortable. Also consider cleaning up any wood or debris piles and tidying along fence lines to give these rodents less places to hide. Finally, seal up any spot under buildings where bunnies might try to make a home.
Chemical repellents can be applied to specific areas in your garden and yard that you want rabbits to stay away from as a last resort. These repellents use an unpleasant odor, taste, or stickiness to convince rabbits to go elsewhere. Because of their harsh chemical nature, these aren’t suitable for use on edible garden plants that you’ll be consuming later. Keep in mind that repellents only work for a limited time and will need to be reapplied frequently to maintain effectiveness.
Natural predators can be useful to keep rabbits away. While it might be hard to imagine getting a coyote to take up residence around your home, simply not discouraging natural predators of rabbits like hawks, owls, or foxes, can do a lot to keep bunnies out of your area.
What Doesn’t Work to Repel Rabbits
Keep in mind these snakeoil solutions so that you can be sure to choose methods that will be effective.
Don’t rely on noisemakers or lights. While they might keep rabbits away for a few hours, anything that makes noise or light as a deterrent is easy for rabbits to eventually ignore and still wreck havoc on your garden.
Don’t rely on scarecrows. Fake predators are often sold as rabbit deterrents even though they certainly don’t work.
Don’t use pesticides or poison. There are no certified and reliable poisons or baits that can be used on rabbits reliably, and using other rodent poisons outside is more likely to harm neighbourhood pets than the target pests. Stick to repellents instead if you want to take a chemical option.
Rabbits are cute to look at but homeowners quickly learn how much of a nuisance they can be when they start to nibble away at all of your plants. Convincing these pests to go elsewhere is the perfect first line of defence to keep your garden lush and humane.