rabbits are eating everything...help

bluebirdbabe(z5 MI)April 24, 2006

I planted alot of bushes, trees and plants for the birds. I lost my beloved yellow lab march 12 and the rabbits have taken over my yard. Alex (my dog) kept the rabbits out of the yard and they seem to know he is no longer around.

I think the rabbits are even nesting under one of the bushes. I don't want to harm them, but I want them out of my yard. I spend hunderds of dollars making my yard bird friendly and the rabbits have eaten everything! They ate the bark off of the grey dogwood, ate the beauty berries, all of the nanny berry bushes, the highbush cranberry, and every other plant, or bush I planted.

Please don't suggest getting another dog, it is not possible right now. I sprayed liquid fence and that didn't seem to bother them. Any ideas are appreciated.



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terryr(z5a IL)

Karen, I'm so sorry you lost your beloved companion Alex.

I've done a lot of planting last year and this year, just moving into this house last year. On the things that are the most susceptible, I've put chicken wire around them. I was told to do this with some of my plants for at least the first 3 yrs. After that, the guy told me the plants would be safe. And no, it doesn't look the best right now, but if it keeps the rabbits away, then so be it. On the plants you listed, they all should put out new growth. I wish you luck!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 4:28PM
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Wow - that's a lot of damage to happen since March! You must have a LOT of rabbits. I very rarely get rabbit damage. They did eat some aronias down so low I could barely see them, but they came back to my surprise. Watch for regrowth on your plants and protect at least your favorites with chicken wire. Maybe you can keep the rabbits away until you can get another dog. Sometimes I put large rocks around seedlings so the rabbits can't get to the stems as easily. The bottom part of the plant is the most important part. If they leave enough it will regrow.
I have some natural predators, black snakes, king snakes, and an occasional hawk but I think my neighbors dogs running loose and the ferral cat that I've seen going under my shed help too. Not that I WANT my neighbors to let their dogs run loose and I'm wondering if I have ferrel KITTENS under my shed which is not good but at least my shrubs will get a chance to grow and hold their own before they get eaten.
Sorry to hear about your dog and your plants. Hang in there.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 2:31PM
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bluebirdbabe(z5 MI)

It sure is alot of damage. I think they ate the grey dogwood this winter and since March, they ate all of the bushes I have in the fenced in area. I saw 3 rabbits in my yard yesterday morning. That's alot of bunnies to me.

Christie, I think I would rather have the rabbits than the big black snake and the king snake. They can eat a rabbit? Yikes!!! That is a good idea about the rocks. At least they won't be able to get the whole plant. I will put chicken wire around as many plants as I can. I have about 25 viburnum. Will they survive with the bark gone?

Thank you both for the kind words about Alex. I miss him so much.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 4:01PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi Karen,
I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is a very difficult thing. I'm glad you had each other for the time you did.
About the rabbits. I'm sorry to say that a physical barrier is the only thing that's going to work. We finally put a fence up around our yard (a utility wire fence, but had to line the bottom with chicken wire since those rabbits can get through the smallest spaces. Outside the fence, I have chicken wire around those shrubs and trees that the rabbits (and deer) like to munch on. Sorry....but it's not easy protecting things from rabbits! Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 6:42AM
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I think the snakes would just eat the babies while they're still in the nest.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:57AM
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putzer(z4 WI)

This is what works for me and it is worth a shot for you to try. I mix two egg yolks with a dash of dish soap into about a quart of water. Then I spray my plants with it, making sure that you wet the leaves to the point of runoff. It works especially well in warmer sunny weather and you have to reapply after rain.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 3:26PM
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led_zep_rules(5 WI)

In my vegie garden I always have trouble with rabbits eating my beets. One year I grew beets inside a ring of marigolds and for once I actually got some beets. So you could try that in a small area around little plants, the smell of the marigolds (tagetes, dwarf French is what I grow) repels them.

Otherwise we have a lot of rabbits, but they don't bother my bushes much. Hubby and I were actually discussing that this morning. I think it is because we have so much other stuff for them to eat. Tall wild grasses, wildflowers, red clover, lawn grass with lots of white clover in it, and everything is organic. Maybe if you had some extra wild stuff the rabbits wouldn't eat all your favorite things so much? I have prairie areas and lots of fruit trees, shrubs everywhere, and they rarely touch anything except to desperately eat a little bark on branches on the ground sometimes in the winter. I see rabbits a lot so I know I have them, and we have no pets either. Good luck.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 9:15PM
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FurryCritterFan(5a WI)

Bingo (Marcia)!! Plant for the rabbits, such as white and red clover, and nuture the natural grasses, let a few dandelions sprout, and chicken wire your scrumptious vegetables, berries, and nutritious greens.

Chicken wire your garden high and low with some nice tall stakes. Can you tape a $100 bill atop a car roof at a shopping center and expect it to stay there??? You're setting old gold for the eastern cottontails to graze on. We love to plant blackberry, raspberry, clover, and have a little weedy area goin', specifically so we can watch the peaceful buns or rabbits. Yup, with feral cats, snakes, free-roaming dogs, hawks, domestic cats let loose by irresponsible owners, ... the little buns in the nest and newly hopping around babes will get killed or eaten.

Get creative with your garden-proofing measures and everyone who drives by, and owns a rabbit and loves cottontails, will smile from your handiwork. :)

Had housecats, have a dog, have bunnies, FCF

Gosh, i'm so envious of anyone who has a few e/cottontail rabbits or little ones in your yard.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 11:59PM
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jillhudock(z7 PA)

Another option besides chicken wire is the mesh which I believe they call bird mesh or deer mesh. IT is black and wispy looking (gets tangled easily). If you wind some around the base of each plant, they should not harm them.

The 3 year test is because once the bark gets touch, it is not so yummy anymore. It is a general rule - just look for tougher bark than what is on the tips of shoots.

Leave all plants in, sometimes they will rebound, if they appear dead for over a month you probably lost them.

One other method - tubex - which are plastic reusable tubes to place around single stem plants. Does not work with bushy plants, but they are OH so handy for seedling trees.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 1:46PM
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prairiegal(4/5 NW Iowa)


I moved out into the country in NW Iowa two years ago, and excitedly bought "wildlife" bundles from my state forestry department. Dh and I planted over 200 little shrubs, trees, etc...we were so hopeful (and soooo naive!) By Spring the rabbits had decimated nearly every little tree, eaten my rosebushes to nubs, and so forth.

Well, not learning my lesson, I spent a small fortune on larger shrubs and trees the next year; they were chomped on, too. You should have seen my "mad and angry dance" last Spring, as I discovered the damage. :-)

Well, I'm older and wiser, now. My shrubs nearly all live in their *rabbit wire* cages (it's sooo ugly but a lot less infuriating) and I'm not sure when I'll have the courage to remove them. Rabbit wire--sold at my local hardware store--is a bit more expensive than regular chicken wire, but it's sturdier and makes tidier cylinders. It's heavier gauge, has small openings in the botton and larger openings toward the top (so the shrubs can grow through the wire) and I'll never plant without it, again!

By the way, I have EIGHT cats and even though we've hardened our hearts and stopped rescuing the screaming, pitiful baby rabbits that they cull in the Spring (my daughters still scream in horror, though.) it doesn't seem to have cut down the rabbit population very much.

My husband *does* go out in the dark of night and "mark his territory" (need I explain further? ;-) around the perimeter of our vegetable garden, and that seems to cut down on the predation in there...However, unless I force-fed him a keg of beer every night, I doubt he could do the same for all the shrubs, trees, and flowers on the property. LOL!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 11:35PM
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flowerpower326(z6 nj)

I also have a bunny problem. We gave away our Springer Spaniel last fall- kids didn't take care of him.Now I have something in my front and back garden-I see the tracks and yesterday I found the suspect siting in the pot with my trop. hibs. Isn't there some type of repellant that won't harm the plants? I usually have the nesting duck problem- I don't mind her so much- she doesn't eat my flowers.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 8:11AM
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I too have lots of Rabbitts this year and there are some predators but I do not want to harm them. Amonia is supposed to keep them away but has to be reapplied after each rain. Blood meal does work but is expensive when you have a large area to protect.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:11PM
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