Rabbits in the Garden: What Do I Do?


| 6/5/2010 10:27:32 AM


Tags: Rabbits, Garden pests, Dogs, Pets,

A photo of Shannon Saia"Now, my dears," said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, "you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor." – Beatrix Potter

Back in the very beginning of April, I went out to check on the state of things in the garden, and I was dismayed to find that something had not only been chomping on the leaves of my strawberry plants, but had also gone fussing through my garlic. It looked as if whatever it was had managed to eat half a dozen of the garlic plants. It had left behind a little cave of straw and a bunch of muddy footprints. My guess was I had rabbits in the garden, because we have them in the yard every year, usually in a burrow under one of our sheds. I poked around the garden fence some and I found the spot where they must have come in, where there was about a two-inch gap between the bottom of the rabbit guard wire and the ground. I plugged it up and went around to inspect the fence perimeter and it all seemed okay. There was no further damage the next night, so I assumed that the buffet was now closed.

Um ... wrong.

Some days later, I was moving some straw around in the garden and I unearthed a rabbit's nest. There were 4 babies and no sign of Mom. I suspect that Mom may not have been around for a few days, since I had plugged up the hole in the fence. I took another walk around the perimeter of the rabbit guard and I didn't see any obvious entrance point, and nothing else had been eaten.

Using a plastic garden shovel and a huge old Tupperware container, I managed to negotiate these rabbit babies out of the garden, and, without touching them, I put them on a bed of straw at the edge of the shed underneath of which is the known rabbit borough. I didn’t want to kill them; but to be honest, I pretty much knew that in disturbing and moving them I was probably sealing their fate. It was kind of a passive aggression. It left open for them a small window of hope. Maybe they would reconnect with their mother. Maybe they would manage to make it on their own.

Or maybe not.

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cindy murphy
6/10/2010 7:15:56 AM

Hey, Shannon - a coincidence, but just yesterday a customer told me what he claims is his very effective remedy for keeping rabbits out of the garden, (there is an "eeeww" factor here, so be prepared). Once a week, he...uhm...(are you ready)...urines in a pump sprayer, dilutes it with water, and sprays the perimeter of his garden. Before you discount this as just completely gross, lemme finish - because you can get the same effect in a less personal way, (and I don't mean commercially sold "predator urines", because my personal feeling is that it is inhumane for these companies to keep contained wild animals just for the purpose of harvesting their urine). I've been recommending cat litter...used cat litter...as an extremely effective way to keep groundhogs out of a garden. And if you can find their burrow, dumping the cat litter down the hole, will cause them to vacate immediately. A friend of mine tried this method, and found it worked just as well on rabbits. It makes sense; a rabbit views the cat as a predator, and will stay out of a freshly marked predator's territory.


s.m.r. saia
6/9/2010 11:56:23 AM

Pam, Hair, huh? Interesting. I've been thinking about going short, ha ha! I'll have to give that some thought. Funny about the cookbook!


pam_6
6/9/2010 10:34:47 AM

Hey Shannon, I just received a nice cookbook from a blog giveaway. Guess what the first recipe was I opened up to? Roasted rabbit cooked in a slow cooker! We have so many rabbits and squirrels around here. One thing I have found that works somewhat with rabbits in the garden is hair. People hair. My husband has always cut his own hair(with a little help from me). I put the hair out around the garden. Of course Jill the Basset Hound and BoDog (the great big hairy dog) help with rabbits too. Good luck with the garden and rabbits. Gafarmwoman Pam


s.m.r. saia
6/9/2010 5:27:44 AM

I figured I wasn't the only one with this problem. MountainWoman, I'm lucky not to have a deer problem. We have tons of deer in the neighborhood, but a six foot privacy fence around our yard pretty much keeps them out. I'm not sure that there is an end to the rabbit problem. Either the gardening season will end with bitter cold and snow, or else one of these early mornings one of my dogs is actually going to catch him as he darts from the garden back to his home....


cindy murphy
6/8/2010 7:19:18 PM

ARGH! Rabbits!!!! I am plagued by them this year.


nebraska dave
6/8/2010 4:37:06 PM

Shannon, I have seen evidence of rabbit nesting in my raised beds. They have not munched on anything that I can see, but I took the cayenne pepper shaker and covered the areas where they were nesting. No more evidence of rabbits in that part of the garden. I really don’t have plants that rabbits would like. Potatoes, onions, peppers, or tomatoes are not a favorite of rabbits. I was surprised to hear that they had eaten onions. Your big issue with rabbits seems to be that you would like to live in unison with rabbits. Just get along with each other as one big happy family. Your attitude through all this has been one of admirable character. I think I’d be with Elmer Fudd about now and saying “Where oh where is that pesky wrabbit?” Your dilemma is an age old one and many have tried ways to keep the critters out of the gardens. Fences both regular and electric, scarecrow, human hair, noise makers, guard dogs, guineas are all attempts to live harmoniously with nature’s creatures. All are somewhat effective. The greatest of these methods is just what you have, the acceptance that there will be some loss due to wild animals even with the best of perimeter methods. Happy gardening. May all your rabbits live long and die fat and your pantries be filled garden produce at the end of summer.


mountain woman
6/8/2010 4:07:33 PM

Ah, the pesky rabbit problem. They are so cute and such a nuisance as well. Here, we have the deer who come to feed on our apple trees and stay and munch everything else. I imagine your Peter will tell another rabbit and so it will go until your strawberries are devoured. Perhaps plant an additional "rabbits only" patch? I did have the Fish and Game warden tell me to put out towels soaked in ammonia for a recent bear intrusion I had. Maybe it would work with rabbits? It's so difficult to deal with cute critters. I am anxiously awaiting the ending to this story.





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