Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Rabbits, rabbits everywhere

We've had our house for about 7 and a half years now.  Squirrels, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, lizards, and birds have been regular visitors all along.  But there have never been bunnies - until recently.  There were signs that something new was happening in the garden soon after the new year.  The sweet pea seedlings were eaten to the ground.  Repeatedly.  New plants disappeared overnight, with no sign of the digging characteristic of raccoons.  My blueberries vanished, just as they became ripe enough to enjoy.

I sighted my first bunny in March and chased it off.  It showed itself again a couple of weeks later.  My husband commented that, if there was one bunny, there were probably many bunnies.  Monday morning, I saw one bunny chasing another, which sealed that theory.

This week, they're ever-present.  I see them in the morning.

Sitting on the back patio

Scooting over to the patio on the south side of the house


I see them in the afternoon.

The flagstone path through the middle of the backyard is a bunny freeway


And I see them in the evening.  Don't they ever sleep?

Do they know they're hard to see as the light dims?


The cheeky creatures hop right by where I can see them from my home office.  They skip along the path outside the living room windows as we watch the evening news.  For awhile, I channeled Mr. McGregor and tried chasing them out of the garden, back down into the canyon but that's become an exercise in futility.  They move faster than I can, especially on uneven ground and, when they split up and go two different directions, all hope of directing them off the property is lost.  I suspect they've figured out I'm less of a threat than the coyotes that prowl the canyon.  For all I know they've set up a warm nest under the spa.

It's always something...Do you know of any good rabbit repellents?

For other Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

34 comments:

  1. So far I haven't had this particular pest, at least here in Washington, I did when we lived in Massachusetts, but they were overshadowed by groundhogs there, who were even worse. I don't have any solutions, only sympathy.

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    1. It's irritating that they've decided to move in after giving me a pass for 7 years. I'll try some repellents but, like the raccoons, I think I'm going to have to learn to work around them.

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  2. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/16356/meat-and-poultry/game-meats/rabbit/
    Sorry to hear about these pests. They sure are cute though.

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    1. I can't even sustain my Mr. McGregor behavior, Peter, so cooking them is probably beyond the pale for me. My husband suggested trapping them and offering them to a neighbor up the street who has been known to cook his chickens but I'm not sure I can do that either.

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  3. Oh no, rabbits are bad news. Their speciality is freshly planted very expensive new plants. I did have them but now we have a rabbit fence and a fox who is a regular visitor. I used to trap them and release them several miles away.

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    1. Decades ago, this area reportedly had red foxes but they're apparently long gone. My husband talked about catching them and releasing them in a park nearby (where they've been common for years) but we expect the locals wouldn't be pleased.

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  4. We have them living under our deck — sharing the space with chipmunks. The only effective repellent is a big dog or a resident fox. Yesterday they ate a Heuchera in my garden. That second image of your garden is stunning.

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    1. The not-so-funny side of the story is that, because coyotes have become such a significant concern here, many people are keeping their dogs inside. That's certainly true of the neighbors closest to me. My next door neighbors rarely let their dogs roam their backyard during daylight hours since one of them was snatched by a coyote. I think the low profile of the local dogs has emboldened the bunnies to extend their territory - and the coyotes aren't taking up the slack when it comes to bunny control.

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  5. I cringed when I read your title. Only thing worse is a that other rascally rodent, the groundhog. I've used blood meal sprinkled around their favorite plants and that seems to help. It has to be reapplied every so often, probably every other week for you. For us, it is after a rain. Good luck!

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    1. An article I just read on blood meal said that while it can deter herbivores like rabbits, it may attract omnivores like raccoons and skunks. Solving one problem could create another it appears!

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  6. rabbits are impossible to get rid of and do lots of damage - I live in So Cal and rabbit population has exploded as we have less raptors and coyotes - Univ Of Calif has extensive notes on rabbits http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7447.html

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    1. Thanks for the link. Six litters a year! Our coyote population is a persistent source of concern on the part of local residents at present because the drought has seemingly made them more aggressive but I think we need them to maintain a balance. Fencing the property seems the best long-term solution but that's definitely not easy to do here.

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  7. Pray for foxes to move into your neighborhood. Either that or a 12ga shotgun. Maybe if you learn to like rabbit with gravy and biscuits. Can you tell I am from the south?

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    1. Unfortunately, the human population here apparently drove the local foxes out decades ago, Lisa. Maybe the coyotes will shift their attention from local pets to bunnies.

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  8. And what an insult -- using your paths too! I just saw photos of vegetable raised beds in Paso Robles that looked like rabbit hutches -- completely screened, on high legs, to keep the bunnies away. At least that would protect the edibles.

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    1. I've given up growing vegetables but the blueberries may need special protection, although it seems the bunnies favor Gazania petals and Orlaya and Lotus foliage. The sweet peas will definitely need to be fenced off next year. Ugh!

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  9. I’m sorry to hear about your rabbit problem, Kris. Over here the government released a virus which has kept the population in check to a degree, but the rabbits are now becoming immune to it. Farmers are obliged to control rabbits and the methods of doing so are nasty. Fortunately we don’t have any here in town.

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    1. Virus controlled rabbits! That sounds like the start of a science fiction movie, Jane!

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  10. hahaha, but they look really cute!
    Shall I send you my dog over? She likes to chase rabbits.

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    1. They are cute, which makes them hard to hate but, given time, I expect I will get there. People here are restricting their dogs from running on their own due to reports of coyotes attacking them in packs. I think that is how we ended up with a rabbit problem in the first place.

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  11. Oh dear, I feel your pain. Rabbits are the bane of my existence, and they cause about 99% of my gardening problems. Yes, they eat plants down to the ground! How dare they?! I have several rabbit repellents that work--store bought and homemade--but they have to be reapplied after every rain, which is impossible to keep up with long-term. The only thing that has worked for me long-term is to use caging, avoid planting their favorite plants (Tulips, for example), and plant rabbit-repellent plants (Euphorbias, Alliums, Daffodils, etc.) They are mean little varmints. Oh, and a dog would help, too.

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    1. I'd love to have a dog but my husband is opposed (and I suspect that would put the cat in a snit too). No one here is leaving their dog outside unattended these days out of fear of coyote attacks. That fear has been ramped up by social media here but I expect a big dog patrolling the premises during the daylight hours would be useful. Maybe I need to start a doggie daycare?

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  12. I am so sorry. Growing up we had bunnies, and deer, and coyotes! (I lost my first cat to the coyotes). My mom was constantly fighting them, plus we only had an underperforming well for water, so naturally the garden came after the showers and laundry and other household use for a family of five. I don’t know how she did it.

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    1. I figure peacocks will be the next to show up here, Loree! They'd add a horrible soundtrack and indiscriminate pooping to the mix.

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  13. Well, there is always something! I don't have any answers to your bunny problem, I'm sorry, I have moles that have come in now the farmer has planted melons in all the fields around us; I had to virtually re-plant all my tomatoes three times. They have now moved into the cut flower beds - they are a disaster.

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    1. I sympathize, Christina! I live in fear of gophers, more common than moles here but here creating similar damage due to tunneling. A next-door neighbor had them but, so far, they haven't shown up here. I don't know exactly what's happened but our local ecosystem, like yours, has been disrupted.

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  14. Here we get a few in early March but they vanish by May. I find bunny heads and bunny guts. Owls and Hawks more than Coyotes. Put up a raptor platform? Raptor perches?

    I've made bunny barriers since forever, a circle of wire fencing with 1" squares, knee high.

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    1. Now that you mention hawks, I remember recently seeing a hawk sitting in the mimosa tree, closer to the house than they usually get. Maybe I need to put up a sign "free bunnies."

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  15. There are raptors here. And foxes. And owls. But the bunny population keeps on growing. They are also moving in on plants I thought were immune. Sanguisorba survived last year, but not this year. If they start on euphorbia we're doomed. I can see it as a Hollywood movie before too long..

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    1. When you mentioned a Hollywood movie, Jessica, I checked Google to see if in fact there was one - after all, I knew Hollywood made horror movies featuring giant irradiated ants, etc. Lo and behold, there IS one! "Night of the Lepus' was a flop, released in 1972. Wikipedia describes the plot's biggest failure as the inability to make rabbits seem scary! Here's a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Lepus

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    2. That is so funny. Well no, not really. Rabbits can be very scary when they are progressively munching your garden to nothing. And when they become fearless and respond to your entry into the garden with the mere twitch of an ear or a nose - before carrying on with the munching as before.

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    3. I looked to see if the movie was available. You can buy it for about $3 but, having taken a look at a few clips on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xulXFB3-A3c), I think I can safely say it's not worth the price.

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  16. There's a well-regarded, local company here that makes repellents for a variety of critters called I Must Garden. They are a big sponsor of our garden club tour. Natural ingredients like peppermint oil, etc. "I Must Garden Rabbit Repellent". Someone just gave me a bag for moles/voles, but in my typical fashion, I haven't tried it yet.

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    1. I'll look for it. Thanks for the tip, Susie! Oddly, for the past 2 days I haven't seen a single rabbit, although, now that I mentioned it, I've probably jinxed my lucky streak.

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