protecting the garden from rabbits.

slowpoke_gardenerAugust 1, 2013

I need help controlling rabbits. At one time I did pretty well shooting them, but getting older has made that more difficult. I have a live trap but have no idea what to bait it with. They are chewing my pumpkin vines into, and I don't intend to tolerate that. I don't have a fence around any of my gardens, and don't want one

I have seen spray at the Farmers Co-op and at Walmart, but have never heard if it works.

Thanks, Larry.

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If you know someone with a shaggy dog, dog hair is somewhat effective. My daughter has an Alaskan Malamute and he is both shaggy and stinky. (I put the hair in the trunk when I bring it home.) I have used the repellent sprays with some success. You have to reapply it after a rain. Your dog is probably too little o catch many rabbits, but between them my two large outdoor dogs--both collie mixes--have caught a dozen rabbits this spring, all but two young ones.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

All that works for me is good fencing. Our dogs sleep indoors at night, so they aren't outside when the bunnies come out to eat. I cannot leave them outside in their dog yard because of all the wildlife that roams our property at night. We've had our dogs tangle with coyotes once and that's an experience I hope we never go through again.

I love seeing the little rabbits hopping and playing out in the fields or even in the yard as long as they aren't eating my plants. I even feed them hen scratch and find that as long as I scatter a little of it in their favorite feeding spot every evening, they eat it and leave the plants alone. They essentially become trained to come to those spots to eat and those feeding spots are not close to the plants in our actual yard that aren't fenced in. They are kind of close to both gardens, but the fencing keeps the rabbits out of the gardens. All our garden fencing has 1" chicken wire attached to the lower two feet of fencing and that pretty much keeps the rabbits out of the garden. All bets are off, though, if I leave a gate open because the rabbits will take advantage of that open gate to go into the garden and eat bean and pea plants as well as Armenian cuke foliage.

We have one dog that was a stray when we took her in who was a good hunter. You could tell Honey had been fending for herself because she'd catch rabbits, kill them, eat them and leave the rabbit head on the front porch welcome mat sort of like a trophy. She's been here 8 years now and has gotten old, lazy and spoiled and hasn't killed a rabbit in about 5 years. She thinks we are torturing her when we put her outdoors in the dog yard for more than 10 minutes in anything other than perfectly mild weather.

Some repellents work and some don't, but you have to reapply them after rain and that can get tedious....and, if you forget to reapply it, the rabbits will make you sorry you forgot.

When our fencing was less sturdy, we had rabbits infiltrate it a lot. They are really good at creepimg through impossibly small in that tiny area between the ground and the bottom of the gate where you'd think not even a mouse could squeeze under the gate. Usually by August the coyotes are starting to bring the rabbit population under control, but so far this year, the coyotes are mostly no-shows so our rabbit population is huge.

Larry, A few weeks ago I had deer and/or rabbits eating the Armenian cucumber foliage they could access outside the garden fence, since the plants were growing on the fence. They were eating it down all the way to the fence, so that on the exterior side of the fence all you saw was bare stems. I put our oldest dog, Sam, on a leash and took him outside to that garden and walked him along the fence as he marked his territory. A few days of that, and the deer and rabbits haven't been back to nibble at the plants that are growing on the fence or through the fence.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Have you considered putting a scope on your gun? With a scope and a good means to rest the gun, I bet you'd be good to go for at least another 10 years.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Thanks to all of you. Madge is at town now, I will call her and have her pick some rabbit repellant .

George, I had to go to a scope 28 years ago. They really help when the bifocals won't let you see the front and rear sight at the same time. I am now planning on a laser to mount to my scope for shooting night critters.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 4:37PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

Larry, I can send you all the shaggy, stinky dog hair you could possibly need.
Krista and her old, smelly bird bog Bridger

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 4:54PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I have lots of rabbits this year. I have two dogs and they haven't caught any lately. Beau even has a couple holes in the garden trying to get cool. I hadn't seen any damage until lately. I think some of the bites out of tomatoes are rabbits. It is hard to tell with all the bug holes but these were clean bites. The %$X@# striped blister beetles that also eat tomatoes leave a mess. My rabbits don't seem to be very afraid of dogs or me. They just sit there like the copperheads until I get too close.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Dang all I have to do is look at that thing to remember how stinkin bad that hurt!! But I really do have to admit they really are pretty when they are copper color. The one that bit me was an ugly brown. I should not say this I'm sure but I just dont see them much in my yard. I have acreage around me and have seen a few before and then of course the one I didnt see till it bit me but for some reason they just dont seem to come on in the yard. I've almost gotten on them on the right of ways chasing cows but just dont see them even in the woods much. Now water moccasins thats a different story. See them in the creek behind us quite a bit. But not in the yard. Thank goodness. I'll take that as a blessing.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 12:30AM
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Helen, after seeing your picture I have changed my mind. I love my rabbits. I have a few King snakes and black snakes around, but I kill every Copperhead I can.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 8:57AM
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I didn't take a pic of the copperhead that I almost stepped on in the yard Tuesday evening about dusk. If it had stayed still, I wouldn't have known I walked within 3 feet of it. But just as I passed it, it crawled quickly behind me to cross the path. I heard it and whipped around just in time to see it disappear into the brush pile a few feet from the path in the edge of the woods. DH and I got up early Wednesday morning to burn the pile. When it was 3/4 burned, I said it must have left already and I took the matches inside. DH stayed to watch. A couple minutes later, he hollered at me that he had got it. As I stepped off the porch to come look at it, I heard him say, "Whoa, there's another one!" as he brought his long heavy stick down just 3 feet away from where he had been standing. If he had backed up in that direction while killing the first one, the second one would have bit him. That's the first ones this year; hope it is the only ones.

Had another startle this morning. I was picking green beans from the cattle panel trellis when I almost put my hand on the large resident garter snake. He was in the very top of the panel. I suppose he is eating grasshoppers and he can have all he can catch. He's been out there 4 summers now. I hadn't seen him for a couple months and thought maybe the crane that visits the neighbor's pond had caught him. I saw a small one--about a foot long--in the compost pile last week. The big one is over 3 feet long now. I usually see him on the ground; wasn't expecting him to be at the top of a 6 ft trellis.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Larry, I thought of you this morning when I went outside early and there were 4 or 5 bunnies hopping around the yard. Once the bunnies see our rabbit-hunting cat, Tiny Baby (no longer Tiny and no longer a Baby either) with me, they run off. He'll catch a rabbit and carry it around and play with it, but he won't kill it, so I usually can grab him and set a rabbit free if he is just carrying it in his mouth.

It hasn't been too bad of a snake year this year so far. I think all our copperheads are someplace else this year because I've barely seen any at all, but we have lots of garter snakes. Tim sees them more than I do. I think he sees them mostly when he is out jogging or when he's mowing. I see them in the yard and in the garden when I see them.

Today a timber rattler could have bitten me if it had wanted. I had just closed the garden gate around 10:20 a.m. and was going to pick up an item off the ground before heading inside. I heard a rattle and froze in my tracks. I quickly located the snake and backed away a safe distance. (Now, yesterday a little voice in my head told me to carry a gun when I went outside, so I did. Today there was no voice in my head, so I didn't carry my gun out there....).

If there is one thing I've learned about snakes it is that after you see them, if you leave them to go inside and get a gun, they will not be sitting there waiting for you to come back out and shoot them. I did have my cell phone with me, and Tim was at home, so I called him. I called him 6 times and sent him 3 text messages. No response. I knew if I left to come inside the snake would disappear into the garden, so I waited and watched the snake. I knew Tim had to leave the house within 20 or 30 minutes to go to work, so figured eventually he'd either check his phone or come outside to leave for work.

Finally I heard a banging sound in the garage and started yelling his name. Eventually he came down the driveway to see what was wrong. He got a gun and killed the rattlesnake.

I was shaking. That probably is the closest I've come to being bitten in a good 10 years. It was less than a foot from me when it rattled and I froze, located it and backed away. It was coiled up against the garden fence and just drew its head back and rattled, and that saved me. It just as easily could have bitten me. After it all was over and Tim had disposed of the snake, he told me how lucky I was that it was a timber rattler (they are rather shy and non-aggressive) and not a western diamondback rattler, because a more aggressive rattlesnake likely would have bitten me. Timber rattlers are supposed to be somewhat endangered, but we have them all over the place here and I normally see several a year, but not all close up and personal like this one was. The venom can be pretty toxic.

He also promised me he'd carry his phone with him at all times now whether he is in the house or going in and out from the garage to the house or whatever. I thought we had settled that issue back in the year of the cougar sightings, but so many years have passed now and he's gotten bad about leaving his phone lying around in the house. Often it is upstairs and he is downstairs. I generally keep my phone with me all the time, having learned an important lesson about that when one of our neighbors fell and broke her hip on their seldom-traveled private road and laid out there, helpless, by the mailbox for several hours until someone arrived home and found her.

I hate snakes, and I've learned that if I am not carrying a gun, I'd sure better have the phone with me or the venomous snake will get away. They can roam all they want on at least 11 of our 14+ acres, but if they are in the garden, driveway, garage, potting shed, chicken coops or yard, we shoot them.

Dorothy, We had a rough green tree snake that used to hang out in the garden and eat stuff. For some reason, seeing the green ones doesn't freak me out as much as seeing other snakes, so I tolerated his or her presence. Its' favorite place was the top of the shade cloth over the peppers, putting it at just about my eye level. I didn't see it last year or this year, so guess something happened to it and it no longer is here.

Lots of the ranchers here like having a rat snake in their barns to keep the rodents down, but if I knew we had a snake in a building, I'd never step foot in that buildlng.

In an average year, I'll have one or two scary rattlesnake encounters, so I guess that for 2013 this is one down, one to go.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 12:35PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Sorry I highjacked your thread Larry. The snake did act like my rabbits. He was still and that is the strategy my rabbits use. It works very well on the dogs. I saw the snake yesterday just before dark. It stayed there as I walked around figuring out what to do. I went back in and got the camera came back and it was still there. I took the picture put the camera up and it was still there. A big rock fell on the snake-sorry snake lovers- it was in my yard where I walk. I know there are more out there but if I let this one go, I would stay out of that part of my yard.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Helen, Our snakes must know they'd better run off or we'll get them because they don't stay in one place long. This morning's snake sat perfectly still for about 10 minutes while I was trying to get Tim to hear me and come out and shoot it. When he finally heard me, got the gun and was about 30' away from the snake and I, it most have smelled the approaching gun and bullets and tried to take off, but he got it anyway.

Any venomous snakes that put themselves in a place where they can harm us, our guests or our animals gets shot. It is just that simple. Most non-venomous ones are at least tolerated as long as they aren't trying to get our chicken eggs or poultry, unless they persist in hanging out in the garden and scaring me to death. We've only shot 2 or 3 snakes this year and I know there's a whole lot more than that here.

This is the first year in a long time that we haven't had to deal with water moccasins in the lily pond, because we let the pond dry up and we let all the plants die. When the weather cools down, we'll fill in the pond area with soil and turn it into a garden. The lily pond was beautiful and I loved it, but once the recurring droughts dried up all the other water sources and the cottonmouths moved to the lily pond just outside the sunporch, that was the end of it. Those snakes are just too dangerous. Tim shot every one we ever found in the pond, but more just kept coming and it was too risky because the walkway from the house to the detached garage borders the pond.

The absence of the pond is one reason I now fill up the old plastic turtle sandbox and wading pool with drinking water for the wildlife. They got used to drinking from the lily pond because we kept it filled with water. The rabbits still haven't gotten the memo and keep coming to it to drink, but it hasn't had any water in it for several months now.

If anything ever would drive me back to city living, it would be the plethora of venomous snakes here.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:07PM
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seeker1122(7a ok)

What you need is a good cat.
I remember griping a few years on hear about all my cole crops being ate up. i planted them 3 times and my cat of 18 years was too old to work anymore. I resuced a momy cat and I so much havn't had a pest problem. I will personaly deliver a good killer to you I need to jump on the bike and ride anyhoo.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 9:36AM
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Tree, I would love to have a cat. I live on a busy HWY and afraid it would get killed. When I built my shed/shop it left the 2 back doors high enough that cats can get in. I placed a can of cat food on a shelf high enough that a cat could get to it but most other critters could not. There are many stray cat around hear and I hoped that this would be a regular stopping place for them. I see cat tracks on my lawn mower from time to time, and see a black cat running out of the shop every now and then. I may try placing food out more often to increase the visits.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 10:21AM
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I was surprised the bunnies are sharp coming close and, even, teasing the dogs. But the neighborhood and feral cats do the trick for the rabbits.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 11:53AM
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