While we love our shop bunny, Mr. Velvetini, we aren’t always so fond of his wild cousins. Wild rabbits can wreak havoc on our gardens and cause gardeners no end of frustration and aggravation. Rabbit damage is particularly severe during drought stress and natural population cycles.
Rabbits, along with other wild animals and birds, experience stress when the landscape suffers from drought, as we are undergoing in southeastern Wisconsin in the summer of 2021. Water is necessary for life, and wild rabbits receive much of theirs from the moisture in the greens that they eat. When drought decimates leafy greens, animals turn to the gardens and landscapes with irrigation.
Natural Population Cycles
Some wild animals, including our native Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus), have natural population cycles. Rabbit populations tend to run in roughly ten-year cycles, and it seems that we’re near the peak of that cycle.
What to Do About Rabbits In Your Yard?
Rabbits are prey animals and rely on all their senses to detect danger in their surroundings. When strongly scented animal repellents are applied in the garden, rabbits tend to shy away from the area as they feel vulnerable because they cannot use their sense of smell to perceive danger. Some scent repellents we carry are Bonide Repels-All®, Bobbex-R™ Animal Repellent, and Epic Rabbit Scram™. All are completely natural and not harmful to the environment.
When food resource pressures are high, or when an especially delicious garden plant is particularly tempting, it may take more than scent repellents to deter rabbit feeding. Taste repellents are usually hot pepper-based and can be effective where scent deterrents have failed. Taste repellents we carry are Bonide Go Away™ Deer & Rabbit Repellent and Bobbex-R™ Animal Repellent.
Rabbit Resistant Plants
If you know that you have abundant rabbits on your property and you plan on adding new plantings, it makes sense to consider plants that rabbits are less likely to eat. These include:
Rabbit Resistant Annuals
- Floss Flower (Ageratum)
- Lantana (Lantana)
- Spider Flower (Cleome)
- Pot Marigold (Calendula)
- Annual Geraniums (Pelargonium)
- Snapdragons (Snapdragons)
- Annual Salvia (Salvia)
- Sunflowers (Helianthus)
- Most Herbs