Bunny Issues

keilamarie(z5 Mass)June 2, 2006

Hello,

I have a family of bunnies that live in the woods behind my house. I love to watch them and always find myself smiling when they run or play but....of course they eat my garden! I certainly love it when they eat a dandiloin or clover but my morning glories are practically a no show for the second season.

I'm stuck between enjoying them and wanting to build my garden which was barren a year ago in March when we moved in. Most of what I planted last year is gone...either because of voles, bunnies, or that strange winter we had in New England.

Is there a way to exist together? I love my wildlife but love to garden is that an impossible combo?

Thank you for any help,

Keilamarie

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ericwi

We have rabbits, too. When we grow swiss chard, from seed, we have to put a floating row cover over the garden, until the chard is maybe 6 or 8 inches high. The bunnies are less interested in mature chard, they seem to prefer seedlings. I had a similar problem with raspberry seedlings. It took me several years to get the patch established, due to rabbit damage. Now, we have an extensive raspberry patch, and I see little or no rabbit damage. Our lawn is essentialy organic, free of herbicide and insecticide. It could be that the bunnies are getting their fill of fresh grass, and leaving the garden alone. Or, it could be that they are raiding the neighbors garden....

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 9:37AM
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vonyon

Keila, where are you in Massachusetts? I am in northeastern Mass. Just curious.

I agree with Eric. I have to "fence" things when they are small or bunnies will eat everything down to the dirt. I do this with small cylinders of fencing material for tomatoes. I have never had them eat Swiss chard, but I'm not sure why. Maybe they haven't found it. You can try getting some 2' fencing material and making small cylinders by wrapping short wire around the ends. Then just put them over the seedlings (push them down into the dirt a bit) and remove them when the plants are a bit bigger. Some people enjoy the bunnies so much that they plant marigolds specifically for them. If you enjoy the bunnies, why don't you try that and fence what you don't want them to eat?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 9:10PM
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axeman(7)

I have a 2' fence around my vegetable patch, but not around any of my other plants. I even have some vegetables and herbs outside of the fence.

I dont really have many problems with rabbits even though they're all over. Sometimes a crocus patch or tulips get taken down to the ground, or they'll chew on some hosta leaves. It may be that I have a large yard with lots of things to eat that they dont have to eat much from my favorite plants. I do leave some of the broadleaf weeds to grow in spots, since they seem to like those. If you kill all the weeds, what else are they going to eat besides what's left growing?

I have more problems with squirrels and chipmunks uprooting my plantings. They seem to be sure there's some treasure to be found underneath.

I have used some of the capcaisin sprays on my tulips and other plants which can be at hazzard, and that may help.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 3:05PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

I just figure I live out here where they were first so I plant way more of everyting than I need so there is plenty for me and them! ;)!
Lisa

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 8:24PM
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ellix(augusta ga)

I have seen 2 running in the back yard but they haven't stoped to eat anything yet. Got carrots to feed but 4th day they are still there. I have read they like Timothy hay so will get some and see if they will like that. I love the little critters and know they need all the food they can get (with all their babies and all) but as well they are not eating any of my flowers either. Maybe nextdoor they are feasting and just having my yard to go through?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 10:47PM
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papa_doc

I have had 2 bunnies at the same time, one an orphaned Cottontail, the other a domestic bunny we got from a shelter. If you want to watch them go crazy of greenery, get some cilantro. It is by far the favorite of my bunnies. Small pieces of banana are also a favorite, along with cheerios.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 5:48AM
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envirocop

So that's what's wrong with my cilantro! Until I read the response from papa doc I was about to respond to say I have rabbits around but their grazing has been barely noticeable. But my cilantro is staying mowed down...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 5:02PM
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nnsgarden

I know this is 4 months late, but I'll post anyway! My aunt and grandmother have both recommended to me that I put down fox urine around the areas that I want to keep rabbits out of. They said to just soak a cotton ball or two in it, and put them in a little dish in whatever areas I want to keep rabbit free. They said you can buy it in the hunting sections of outdoor stores, (but some only carry it according to the hunting seasons when it's in highest demand.) I haven't tried it personally, but they both seem to think it works. I guess the rabbits smell it and think a predator is near, so they go elsewhere.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 5:01PM
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tosser

Since the bunnyrabbits were declared the winners in The Battle for the Garden last season, I'm going to fence with chicken wire this year. Ugly, but gee, I'd like some vegetables, too! I've got lots of narrow beds, and will be planting a cabbage at the end of each bed. When the cabbages are partially grown, I plan on moving the fencing so that the cabbages are on the outside of the fence and let the rabbits have at'em. Bunnies love their cabbage and I'm hoping they'll stick with it and leave everything else alone when I eventually take down the fencing.

After reading this thread, I'll be adding cilantro all over, as well - thanks for the tip! Luckily, I already have a huge amount started in milk jugs.

In all my years of gardening I'd never had a single problem with rabbits eating anything but cabbage. Last summer they ate the bell peppers, chile peppers, tomatoes, beets, radishes, zucchini, nasturtiums (flowers only), marigolds, nibbled on the onions & garlic, taste-tested the cukes, devoured the pineapple sage, and completely wiped out every trace of the turnips. The lettuce seedlings made it less than 24 hours.

In desperation, I got a large canister of ground cayenne pepper and literally dumped it onto the pepper leaves. Early that evening, I stood at the kitchen window and watched while those crazy rabbits happily munched away on this new treat. That's pretty much when I gave up and figured I should be grateful for the cucumbers that were too high up for them to reach. They also left the mints, rosemary, and borage alone, but sure did like the thyme and oregano. Weird, huh?

The two major players hung out here so often (even during the day!) that I named them - Big Boy and Bad Betty. Big Boy was an unusually large fella with a funny white stripe on his flank. Their bunny cohorts kept a respectable distance, but Big Boy & Bad Betty would hop right up to the house (that's where the potted stuff was ). I have to admit that when they abandoned me in mid-October I missed them and have worried about them this winter (lots of coyotes around here). Last night about an hour before dusk the dog jumped up and ran to the door. I figured there were probably deer out in the field she wanted to bark at so I looked out first, and there right in the front yard were Big Boy and Betty! I'm so happy they survived! They both looked sleek and healthy, too, and, true to form, eventually hopped over to where the peppers were planted last year. *sigh*

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 9:09AM
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maifleur01

I don't know for certain it will work with rabbits but helps with squirrels. Place one or more shallow pans of water in areas near shelter. There used to be a cream colored water pans made of some sort of clay that we had in our bunny pens. They were heavy enough that a startled animal would not kick them over.

Animals sometime eat things just for the moisture. Did you have a dry season last year?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 9:15PM
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tosser

Nope, maifleur, it wasn't a dry year. There was plenty of beautiful, chemical-free grass in the yard, too! And I do set out pans of fresh water around the yard for all the wee creatures, plus 2 birdbaths. I think Big Boy, Bad Betty and their gang got a taste of "gourmet" food and just couldn't stay away.

Since the only stuff really growing right now is catnip, German chamomile, mums, and chives (none of which they seem to have a taste for) they've been hanging out under the birdfeeder eating sunflower seeds. They can also chomp up quite a few dandelions when they put their minds to it, which is nice.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 1:02PM
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tweedbunny

I second the post that says bunnies love cilantro and bananas! I have two pet house rabbits and both love cilantro. When I kiss them on the noses after they've devoured a bunch of cilantro, it smells like they've been eating burritos! :) They also LOVE bananas.

As far as protecting my yard from my own bunnies when they go outside, I've put a bunny fence around my garden which totally prevents my veggies from being eaten. I also make cylinder fences IDENTICAL to vonyon to put around the shrubs that are still young and small. Like another post said though, bunnies gotta eat too, so I share. They have free reign to the shrubs over a couple of feet tall that can handle the trimming. I also plant lots of veggie seeds and flower seeds outside the garden that I don't care about them eating. Just make sure you reseach what ones are poisonous for them to eat. :( I also share the greens that I don't use from the garden with the rabbits (mine love radish tops).
Good Luck and thanks for caring about the bunnies!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 5:00AM
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tosser

What kinds of flowers do your bunnyrabbits like best, tweed?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 11:15AM
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tweedbunny

Like you said, they love dandelions. Also mine seem to like alyssum, banks rose vines, morning glory, trumpet vine, clover (i even planted some in my grass so they can munch on it), thyme, lobelia, violets, and a lot of wildflower seed mix but not sure what flowers are in it.
I usually surround the flowers with fence as they are establishing and after they have, I take the fence down to let the rabbits graze on them. My rabbits like to pull down my fence that surrounds my morning glory seedlings to clip them off. >:(

You might try googling it though to see what flowers rabbit like, because I live in a hot desert area and can't get a lot of flowers that rabbits love to grow in my backyard. There are also lots of flowers poisonous to rabbits, so be careful of that too.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 4:54AM
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tosser

Thanks, tweed! I've come up with an idea for the peppers & tomatoes, as those are what I most want to protect and don't have much faith in chicken wire.

I have 4 cats (inside, of course); hence, lots of sturdy, hard-plastic Tidy Cat litter buckets. I've been working at cutting the bottoms out and am going to set them over the plants, pushing the rims into the ground 2-3 inches. Not too attractive, but I'm hoping this will do the trick.

If this works I'll report back.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 5:05PM
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dakster(z6 Cent.CT)

My neighbor has the same issue. What she has done is buy Coyote Urine. There is a shop here in town called Comstock Ferre, they are also available online, and they sell it. It is placed in glass jars with stakes..in the jars is gauze soaked with the urine.. works like a charm snad does not smell.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 9:23AM
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tweedbunny

Here's a pic of my two mower/fertilizers hanging out under the lawn chair and another pic of how I surround new plants with cages. After this morning glory climbs up high enough they can't reach the top, I'll remove the cage. I have several of these cages around my yard. Goooood luck!

By the way, yes, they do eat those leaves that stick out of the cage :) but it doesn't kill the plant and just encourages upward growth...Some cages I make much wider so that NO leaves are sticking out, depending on the plant.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 8:43PM
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tosser

What sweetiepies, Tweed!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 2:25PM
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