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Border Wars: Battle of the Bunnies

As I’m still in my reader request mode, this week we’re focusing on bunnies and how to keep those adorable little bastards out of your garden. Since I actually have three rescue rabbits and have fostered more in the past, bunnies are a subject I actually know a weird amount about. (Wanna talk about rabbit social hierarchy systems in regards to grooming? I’m your weirdo.)

What do you mean you don't want bunnies in your yard?
What do you mean you don’t want bunnies in your yard?

Anyway, as cute and as nitrogen rich their droppings are, wild rabbits don’t really belong in your veggies. There are a few ways you can handle them. I’m sure most are aware of the old wives tales like soap on a rope, human hair, peeing around your garden, etc. I’ve heard (to my own personal horror) that dried blood works best.

Yep. Dried blood. Usually when I garden, I avoid products that include animal products (bone meal, blood meal, I guess any type of meal?). These are often byproducts of slaughterhouses and rendering plants and I make enough compost through my rabbits and my kitchen that I can get by without it. It’s actually nitrogen rich when it breaks down and feeds your plants, but I can never picture using dried blood without that traumatizing scene from the War of the Worlds remake where they grow the red weed with ground up people.

Anyway.

Another old wives’ tale is marigolds. The problem is my rabbits love them as treats, so I don’t really count on them to protect my food from highly motivated bunnies, much less my lazy ones.

I had some mixed success with red pepper last summer. Basically, you frequently season your growing plants with red pepper, or something equally spicy (I’ve heard black pepper, garlic, etc), but this needs to be done regularly. It did stop whatever was tugging my corn up and leaving it there to mock me (seriously, if you’re going to pull it up at least leave me a bit of dignity and at least eat it). I suggest buying some cheap bulk stuff and seasoning ruthlessly.

The sad truth is that the absolute best way to keep a bunny out of your garden is a fence. You don’t need eight-foot-high deer fencing, a modest two-foot chicken wire one should make it enough work that a rabbit will look elsewhere for food. (Though the highest recorded rabbit jump was 39 inches, so there’s that?) Basically, your goal should be to make it too much work to bother getting into your garden. But bunnies are highly motivated adorable garden destroying machines, and their survival depends on how much shit they can cram into their wee little mouths FROM your garden, so it better be a pain in the ass to break into that shit. I suggest that you motivate them by planting a smaller patch of edibles for them in another part of your space, far away from your cherished produce. They get to eat, and you get un-nibbled produce.

That way everyone wins!

smiling bunny

7 replies on “Border Wars: Battle of the Bunnies”

My house rabbit jumped the baby gate I installed to keep her in the kitchen. Where her food is. It took her a couple days, but she wanted out and she figured out how to do it. They are very determined little things. And don’t forget- they can dig, so you need to bury the chicken wire, too.

House rabbits are amazing. More work than cats, less than dogs, and no matter how much you bunny proof they will chew on something you don’t want them to, but they’re worth it. And yes, their social structure is very cool.

I have three alpha females who cannot be housed together because they’re all so dominant they end up fighting. Like I have literally walked in on my oldest rabbit (also the most dominant) with another by the throat. Every time there is a fight it starts over grooming. In rabbit society, the submissive rabbit will groom the dominant one. So my three girls will try and force each other to groom them and it usually ends in some bunny slap fighting and Mortal Kombat shit, which is why they all have their own pens now, so no one commits bunnicide.

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