In the Ottawa neighbourhood where I live, it is not uncommon to have regular rabbit sightings in the early morning and at dusk. And while such innocent and natural sightings can be awe inspiring, these diminutive, cute and furry animals can become serious nuisance pests when they tear up your garden or lawn.
Rabbits are native to forests, meadows, and secluded grassy areas but they have become very comfortable in cities as well. Female rabbits dig warrens in the ground: underground tunnel systems which also contain burrows or small rooms where the kittens (baby rabbits) are raised.
Because wild rabbits normally live about seven to eight years, once you find rabbits living in your yard you can assume they will be keeping you company for a long time to come unless you change the living arrangements.
Here are some humane tips for keeping rabbits and their large extended families at bay:
Use dried blood meal throughout your garden. This natural remedy is a dry, inert powder made from blood, as a by-product of abattoirs. The smell is so distasteful to rabbits that they will not go near your precious produce. Blood meal is high in nitrogen, making it a particularly effective fertilizer for all plants, supporting good leaf development. Therefore, using blood meal in your vegetable garden will fuel the growth of lettuces and other leafy greens. Your local garden centre or hardware store will carry blood meal.
Note that blood meal is also good for deterring squirrels from digging up flower bulbs in your garden!
Keep your yard uninviting to rabbits. By simply mowing your lawn regularly and tidying up any plant debris, leaf accumulation or tall grasses, you reduce favoured spots where rabbits like to hide.
Set up fencing around your vegetable garden, such a simple chicken wire. You will want to ensure 2 things when using garden fencing to deter any animals: that it is high enough for rabbits not to hop over it and that it is buried deep enough to deter them from digging it up. Three feet above the ground and ten inches into the ground should be sufficient to protect your garden.
Other all natural options include scattering ingredients that work well as repellents such as garlic, lavender, and catnip. Also try using monkshood and foxglove, two types of poisonous herbs, around your vegetable garden. Avoid this trick if you have children or household pets, for obvious reasons. You might also choose to grow some of these as attractive additions to your garden – and they’re perennial.
If your rabbit visitors are still persistent and overstaying their welcome in your gardens and lawn, a chemical rabbit repellent is also available and found in garden shops. Keep in mind that it must be reapplied every time after a rainfall. Lastly, you might try the more expensive but natural option of fox urine. You can find this product in sporting goods stores. Predator urine is a good final solution and will deter coyotes, deer, mice, rats and other animals that are causing great damage to gardens, shrubs, trees, homes, attics, basements, cars, and RV's.
In the end, you may just have to try a few of these solutions in combination to really discourage rabbits who have decided to share your yard.