Rabbits have become a major nuisance and danger to plants and wildlife in Australia. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was introduced in the 18th century and kept as a food source for the early European settlers. However, they soon became widespread.
There have been numerous attempts to reduce their numbers in the country. Traditional methods such as rabbit-proof fencing, shooting, and destroying warrens have proven to be unsuccessful. Another attempt was made through the introduction of the myxoma virus. But survivors of the virus have meant that the species has developed some resistance and numbers have recovered. These methods are also very inhumane to the rabbits.
The species is particularly damaging to crops and gardens and causes millions of dollars worth of damage every year. Therefore, looking for ways to control rabbits is critical. But at the same time, it is important to find a way to humanely reduce their populations.
Understanding the Impact of Rabbits in Yards and Gardens
Rabbits are known to cause significant damage to crops and gardens. They can eat vegetable produce, flowers, and plants as well as dig and leave their droppings around. In addition, rabbits are also carriers and sufferers of myxomatosis. While it is very specific to rabbits, the virus is not entirely safe and can be spread through other animals (birds tend to be big carriers of the disease).
Rabbits can also dig in gardens which can leave lawns in a bad state of repair.
Assessing rabbit-related damage
It is important to assess rabbit-related damage. This not only tells you what repairs need to be done, but it can give an insight into the reasons why the rabbits are accessing your garden or property. Knowing why they’re entering and what they’re doing can help you choose the right natural ways to deter rabbits.
Indicators of Rabbit Presence
There are numerous indicators of rabbit presence in the garden. And when you’re rabbit-proofing your garden, looking for these indicators can help you choose the best rabbit management plan. There are lots of signs that you should be on the lookout for these include:
Signs of Digging Rabbit Warrens
Rabbits like to live near their food sources and water sources. If you’ve got either in your garden, you should look around the borders of your home and check for small holes. These are also often hidden under bushes and other foliage, as it helps keep them safe.
Another clear sign of rabbit droppings around their eating areas. These are small round pellets. They are often dry as rabbits eat wet droppings to consume more nutrients.
Rabbits love eating vegetables and plants. Often they eat plants above the surface right down to the ground and it is often in a small range around their home, as opposed to being random that other animals such as birds might use.
If you’re up early in the morning and late in the late afternoon, you can often see the rabbits. They will come out in large groups. And while they are good at hiding, they’re also very quick to flee near human contact. So if you disturb them you will often see them flee en-masse.
Identifying and Implementing Rabbit Deterrents
There are numerous different rabbit deterrents that you can use on your property and in the garden to help you keep rabbits out of your garden. However, the specific options you use will depend on your circumstances.
Rabbit Pest Management
Part of the process is to ensure that you get the right management system sorted. You don’t want to inhumanely treat the rabbits, even though they are a pest. Instead, you want to manage the pests and ensure that they’re no longer around your property.
Species Identification and Behaviour
The first thing that you need to do is to ensure that you know what species you have. The two different species cause similar destruction. The European rabbit and Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), the latter of these is native to Australia. There was also the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura), but that became extinct in the 1950s.
While both can cause damage, you don’t want to kill the Greater Bilby as it is important to the nation and is vulnerable.
By identifying the species, you can employ the correct pest management solutions that will work for the species.
Natural Ways to Deter Rabbits
Product on the picture above: Envirobug Motion-Activated Pest Repeller Sprinkler
There are lots of different ways to deter rabbits from your property. These can be based on a few options. Here are some of the options that can be applied.
There are several plants that rabbits do not like at all. Some of these species planted around the property can deter rabbits from entering or protect other species of plants nearby. For instance, you can use lavender, catnip, rosemary, marigolds, salvia, or some other plants to completely deter the rabbits from the home.
These don’t need to be heavily planted in the garden but can be used in various locations around the property to ensure that the rabbits hate the smell enough to stay away.
Non-harmful physical barriers
Another option to keep rabbits out of the garden is to use non-harmful physical barriers to the property. Using a picket fence is not going to work. However, chicken wire with 1-inch mesh or smaller is going to be more effective.
You can use the mesh around the whole garden or sensitive locations in the garden, such as vegetable patches.
However, it is important to dig the mesh in at least six inches below the ground. This prevents the rabbit from being able to dig underneath the barrier.
Another barrier that you could use is motion-activated sprinklers. The Sentinel guard system from Envirobug will spray water at a rabbit that enters the detector's range. At the same time, the device creates movement that will scare away the rabbit.
Effective Methods for Ethical Keeping Rabbits Out of the Yard
While the above options are passive ways to deter the rabbits from the garden, you can use more active options that allow you to build an unfriendly environment for the rabbits.
Humane trapping and relocation strategies
Trapping and relocation of rabbits is one option. Numerous commercial traps can help you humanely trap the rabbit for long-range relocation of the rabbit. It needs to be far away because they can make their way back.
The problem with this option is that trapping one rabbit isn’t always going to solve the problem. Rabbits live in huge colonies, and trapping one doesn’t stop the colony from growing. A single pair of rabbits can reproduce at a very quick rate. You might remove one, but there are a dozen more next month.
Modifying habitats to discourage rabbits
One way to get rid of rabbits from your garden is to make the area completely unfriendly to rabbits. There are lots of ways to do this and you’ve got to think like a rabbit to make it happen. For instance, rabbits don’t like to live in areas where there is no cover or protection. They want to be able to run quickly to safety.
So here are some ideas for you.
Creating less appealing environments
So when you’re creating the environment, think about having less appealing environments for the rabbit. Have large areas of your garden that are open and exposed. You should also look at ensuring that the edges don’t have a lot of plant cover.
You might also want to have lots of rockeries in the garden with plant species that rabbits don’t like.
Adapting garden designs
Adapting garden designs is a lot of work. But just some small changes done every so often can be enough to deter the rabbits very quickly from the garden. For instance, you can add in the wire to start with and then set the sprinkler deterrents in place for one month.
After this, you can clear away some of the foliage that removes the cover.
Creating a Bunny-Free Environment
Here are some of the options for creating a bunny-free environment.
Installing rabbit-proof fencing and barriers
The first thing that you should do is to install a rabbit-proof fence and barrier around the garden or sensitive areas of the garden. Remember to install the fencing at least six inches into the ground, though you might want to dig deeper.
Safe and eco-friendly repellents
Now you need to use some safe and eco-friendly repellents. Using some of the plants mentioned, you can create odours that rabbits do not like. In addition, you can prevent other unwanted guests like snakes, mice, and rats from entering your property.
There are some other scents that you can use to deter rabbits. For example, you can use fox urine to create scents around the garden that will ward off rabbits.
Decoys mimicking predators
Finally, you can use predator decoys to create a sense that potential predators are around. Silhouettes of foxes nearby can often be an effective deterrent for a while. You might also want to use sound recordings of foxes or birds of prey to deter rabbits.
Rabbit Control Methods for Vegetable Gardens
There are numerous humane rabbit control methods you can use for vegetable gardens.
Protecting vulnerable plant species
To protect vulnerable plant species, you want to use deterrents like odour-producing plants and wire mesh to keep rabbits away. You can use lavender in vegetable gardens because it deters rabbits but also attracts pollinators.
Implementing companion planting techniques
Using companion planting techniques is a great way to prevent rabbits from establishing themselves in your garden. You can use lots of different plants to make your garden interesting and to ensure that there is a plant that will help prevent rabbits from eating your vegetables.
Keeping rabbits out of the garden is key to success in your garden. There are lots of options, and a mixture of these can help anyone to succeed in keeping rabbits from causing significant damage to the property’s ground.
FAQ about How to get rid of rabbits
How can I identify if rabbits are causing damage to my garden?
Look for signs of nibbling within the garden, including leaves and sprouts being completely eaten.
Which plants are commonly targeted by rabbits, and how can I protect them sustainably?
Grasses and vegetables are often targeted by rabbits. To protect them, keeping rabbits away is key, so you should use wire mesh and motion-detecting deterrents to keep them away.
Are there eco-conscious repellents effective in deterring rabbits without causing harm?
The Envirobug sentinel is one of the best eco-friendly products on the market.
What's the most sustainable approach to managing rabbit populations in yards?
Keeping rabbits away from the garden is one of the most sustainable approaches to managing rabbit populations.