General Rabbit Facts
Most Common North American Species: Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)
Average Size: 14-19" long; 2-4 lb
Average Lifespan in the Wild: 1-2 years
Identifying Features of a Cottontail: greyish-brownish fur, large ears, strong hind legs, and a short bushy tail with white underside.
- Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open, which protects them from danger in two ways: they appear awake and thus less vulnerable to predators, and they can more readily detect danger when resting.
- Rabbits only breathe through their noses - not their mouths like humans and other animals.
- Some rabbits pad their nests - AKA "forms" - with fur plucked from their bellies.
- Rabbits ingest their excrement through a process called coprophagia in order to absorb nutrients that weren't digested the first time around.
Identify Patterns of Activity
The best rabbit repelling solution depends on where and when your rabbits are causing the most damage. Their habits generally change with the seasons, so you may have to employ multiple repellent solutions according to the time of year. Common rabbit activities include:
- pilfering flower gardens
- eating grass, clover and alfalfa
- damaging tender crops like beans, peas, cabbage and lettuce
- nibbling on young seedlings
- girdling the bark of young trees
- occupying animal burrows
- chewing on woody plants and shrubs
- clipping twigs
Choose the Best Rabbit Repellent
After determining your rabbits' behavioral patterns, you can use the information below to determine the correct repellent solutions for the area of damage you have identified. It's important to not only focus on problem areas but also take preventative measures to ensure that all of your valued landscaping is protected. Rabbits adapt easily to changing environments, and once you repel them from one plant or area, they will move onto unprotected areas.
Liquid Spray Repellents
Best For: Protecting flowers and plant surfaces from direct rabbit damage. Spray liquid repellents to the point of runoff directly onto plants you want to protect. Liquid repellents are great for:
- ground cover
TIP: To deter rabbits from eating vegetation, focus application 2-3 feet from ground level - this area is most vulnerable to rabbit damage.
Rabbit Repellent Stations
Best For: Season-long perimeter or area protection against rabbits. Weatherproof rabbit repellent stations are an ideal solution for larger properties, since they only need to be applied once per growing season to keep your property protected. Apply them in various ways, including:
- Staked throughout vegetable or flower gardens
- Placed in planters or flower pots
- Positioned around the perimeter of your yard
- Hung from trees or fences
TIP: Place stations near where you’ve seen signs of rabbit damage to create a barrier.
Best For: Scaring rabbits away from large areas with eco-friendly bursts of water. Electronic repellents are smart, effective devices that seek out and discourage rabbit activity in almost any area, such as:
- vegetable patches
- pool areas
- brush cover
TIPS: Though electronics are typically pricier than traditional repellents, they are more cost-efficient in the long run, as there is no need to reapply or rebuy season after season. Many consumers find that installing several electronic repellents around their property, hidden nicely in their flowerbeds, is the best method for keeping rabbits out.
Apply as Directed
Correctly applying repellents is critical to achieving effectiveness and longevity. It's extremely important that you follow the label directions on the package to gain the best result. Some critical steps to keep in mind include:
- Reapply your repellents as often as the directions suggest. Most repellents will have to be reapplied after heavy rainfall to maintain repellency.
- Distribute granules at the proper rate, keeping in mind the formula's specific coverage area. For example, if the bottle covers 10 acres, use 1/10th of the bottle to protect 1 acre.
- Spray leaves, stems, flowers and bulbs generously, until they're completely soaked and the liquid begins to run off.
- Position your electronic repellent so the sensor faces the direction of your rabbits' activity, and carefully follow the sensitivity guidelines to ensure your electronic solution reacts properly.
Keep rabbits away by reducing the availability of protective cover, which rabbits need to feel comfortable living and feeding in your yard. Some steps you might take include:
- mowing grass regularly
- raking leaves
- pulling weeds
- trimming back excess vegetation
- covering and filling in abandoned animal burrows
- cleaning up debris, woodpiles and brush
- Rabbits favor tender, new growth. Keep an eye out for sprouting plants, shoots, buds and seedlings and treat them with repellents immediately when they appear. In the wintertime, rabbits prefer woody plants with thin bark, so you should focus your repelling efforts on younger trees and shrubs.
- Rabbits rely on their heightened sense of smell to seek food and detect danger. Choose a liquid repellent that repels by odor, using either putrescent egg, dried blood, or a mixture of both. These ingredients emit a scent that’s proven to trigger a natural flight response in rabbits.
- In order to repel stubborn rabbits, choose a repellent that targets both scent and taste. A repellent that includes the ingredient capsaicin will give your plants a severely spicy taste and discourage a rabbit from taking another bite.
- For large-scale rabbit protection, apply liquids using a pump-sprayer, which is designed to release more repellent with less effort.
- Periodically check the sensitivity of your electronic repellents to ensure that they are functioning at the optimal level.
- Reinforce your rabbit repelling plan by planting some commonly recognized rabbit-resistant plants like marigolds, salvia or lavender. Although the repellency of these plants is unproven, many gardeners and landscapers trust them as a barrier crop to help keep rabbits away.