Pesky, Hungry wild Rabbits

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Qwispea, Dec 31, 2005.

  1. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    How do I ever get any decent shrubs, bushes, small trees to grow without these pesky rabbits eating everything during these winter months.
    This is starting to really irritate me..spend money during summer months buying nice yard plants..hard work putting them in..then the rabbits eat everything. :bash:

    Shooting them is not an option..for various reasons. So what in the world do I do?
     
  2. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rabbits can be a nuisance. I have had jobs in my pest control business where I had to deal with them. You must work to eliminate their hiding spaces which will give predators a better chance, but in a yard with new plants, you'll have to fence them out. If your space is cluttered with habitat for them, start by eliminating those areas.

    They are difficult to trap, but you can have some success with that. I used apple slices. It may be easier this time of year since they are stressed for food.

    Where are they living? If they are getting under the house or garage, you can place the trap so they have to enter it to leave their hole. You may need to fashion a shield out of hardware cloth so they cannot get around the door.

    Pruning established plants up from the ground is another good idea. This is more of eliminating their hiding spaces.

    Good luck.
     

  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rabbits don't bother my plants, but it may be because they have free access to the corn and sunflower seeds I put out for the chickens and ducks, and of course, the hay.
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had no problem catching them in a live trap. An ear of corn or apple works. What you do with them then is up to you. They do prefer certain woody bushes and small trees. WE put a little round fence around the things they like by cutting off a short piece of chicken wire and wiring the ends together. We use the 2 foot high wire and it works. If you get high drifts, then you will need higher chicken wire.
     
  5. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    you just need to complete nature's cycle. rabbits are food for predators. we are predators. we have displaced a great number of the animal kingdom's predators so we need to compensate by making rabbit stew.
     
  6. idontno

    idontno Well-Known Member

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    We put in a lot of trees ..Then winter came.So did cottontails.They eat all the bark off..Then dead trees.The next year we cut chicken wire and put it around them up 2 ft.No more problems.Don't let them fool you...They WILL eat the bark off,even if you feed them.....Chicken wire was the best insurance we could of got.Do it before it snows and they have nothing to eat....I know...Believe me...idontno
     
  7. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    well if you wont shoot them, then I guess you are going to have to buy a bunch of tight weave fencing, and fence everything you dont want destroyed
     
  8. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    some people have all the luck. I dont have a deer or rabbit on my 80. They are bolth good eating,and I wish I had them around
     
  9. Linda H

    Linda H Missouri Ozarks

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    We put out corn (plus other goodies )for the birds and squirrels & havent had any trouble with either deer or rabbits. Last summer he deer ate the left over corn at night and walked right by our garden on their way down to the pond.
     
  10. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    True, I have eaten a bunch of the tree rats in my area.I find tehm delicious.But My kids and wife like watching are rabbits I had to fence off the garden and they still get in under the fence guess I need to dig a trenche and bury some old tin.Or start making rabbit stew.
     
  11. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    Maliseet - Passamaquoddy Dictionary
    Elinaqsihtit yukk mahtoqehsisok. There are so many bunnies here.

    On the island of Grand Manan there had long been a colony of domestic rabbits which had gone wild, or at least free. They were all descendants of some pet rabbits of a young girl that lived on the island years ago, and they would all hang out at a local picnic and campground and were all very tame and popular with locals and tourists. A few years ago the population had gotten perhaps a little out of control, and a local park warden, a quiet bookish chap, had suggested a cull. This was met with horror and outrage by the islanders, not that they were a naive or soft bunch. They were all families of fishermen and they well understood tough living. Thing was however, just about everyone on the island had received an easter bunny from the colony at one point in their childhood, even the men. They would be released back to the colony with their friends, and the children would often still recognize them, and even their offspring, for a few years later at least. It was a perfect arrangement, a paradise perhaps, until one spring morning.

    One spring morning, as every year, a group of school children visited the campground to see if the newborn baby bunnies were out. Instead they were met by a scene of appocolyptic horror. Death. Bones everywhere, and loose shreds of rotting fur. Even the very grass and trees were dead or dieing, gnawed to the bare earth and wood by some horrible dark monster, just as the bunnies had been. The poor bookish park warden was immediately suspected to have poisoned them all, that sick and strange little man that couldn't even drive a boat. He took the early ferry and barely escaped a lynching. It had been a harsh winter and a late spring, it was later explained, and so many bunnies had simply eaten everything a starved and frozen themselves to death. But people don't like to be told I told you so, especially by an off-islander, and especially when they are so obviously wrong, and he, so obviously right. The government people had been wrong so many times before.

    It seems Mother Nature prefers all things in moderation, including moderation.
     
  12. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    this is just an observation and reflection on what i have seen and appreciate. i enjoy the cycles of life. i have learned form documentaries and textbooks that predators and prey, within the same micro-environment, will exhibit cycles of population growth and decline that is co-dependent. consider foxes and rabbits. the pops seem to grow and decline in ten year cycles. the rabbits get a head start and they increase in number for several years. as they do, more food is present for foxes and they grow in number. as they grow in number, they hurt the rabbit population and less food is present. so they gradually decline in number as well until the rabbits rebound.

    perhaps there are some things going on in your area that have an effect on this cycle. perhaps there is someone trapping alot of foxes allowing the rabbits to grow in number. perhaps the rabbits are near the end of a cycle and foxes are nearly ready to appear in greater number. i imagine any predator could be exchanged in the theory, if not timing of the cycle. maybe some hawks have disappeared, etc.

    where i live there are so many things going on mother nature must be confused. ample state forest land abounds right next to a major housing development. the forest itself has been clear cut in most areas during the last 20 years. coyotes are plentiful now. bobcats are being seen as well as black bear. many more birds of prey are present. i attribute this to the habitat created by the cut-outs. it seems to help the rabbits. now that there are coyotes, the foxes have been pushed to lower ground. i see them alot and the rabbits are fewer around my house.
     
  13. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    Apparently hunting pressure has no discernable impact on rabbit population. In the wild a rabbits average life span is less then 18 months. Thus, when you harvest a rabbit, you simply prevent that rabbit from starving in the next winter, and leave more food for the remaining rabbits. Because the remaining rabbits have more food, they have bigger litters and more of the young survive.

    In Ontario rabbit populations follow a seven-year cycle. This cycle is determined by disease and food availability, not by predators, of human or animal form. In fact, the coyote population cycles with the rabbit population, albeit about one year behind. This would not make sense if hunting or predators were responsible for rabbit populations. As predator pressure increased, you would expect rabbit populations to fall, not to increase for another four or five years. The cycle is inevitably reset by an outbreak of Tularemia. This results in a catastrophic collapse in rabbit populations in a very short period of time.

    Pete
     
  14. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    Rabbit populations are habitat driven. They need food and cover. As we humans cut down the brush they just eat whatever is left. That would be the desirable shrubs and so on.

    Don't shoot, fine. Get a live trap and trap the rabbits. Then dispose of them as you see fit. I use a "chicken fryer" to get rid on mine. :cool:
     
  15. Qwispea

    Qwispea Well-Known Member

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    These rabbits always scavage around the bird feeders too.

    Its my fault this year that they're eating all my new plants and shrubs and small trees. They did it last year too..and I knew I needed to put chicken wire around them..but I keep procrastinating..and finally here they are eating at their leisure. There are a couple of brush piles on my property that I probably should have burned too..but didn't. And the old barn stores our hay..and it is easy for them to get in there..plus the old barn was built on a slope..and part of it has crawl space underneath is..and the rabbits are always under there..it used to be woodchucks underneath there..but those woodchucks are gone now.

    I hear coyotes ever closer to the home lately..a couple nights ago seemed they were yipping near the barn..so perhaps the rabbit predators are invading..but I worry about that too because we have sheep and goats.

    SO..I am too sensitive to kill the rabbits myself..same as I was the red squirrels which I finally trapped and moved..so perhaps I'll buy a larger 'hav-a-hart" trap. Or..maybe I'll learn to appreciate rabbit meat enough to learn to do it myself.

    Anyway..several young pine trees are probably dead now..but so far..they haven't touched my new fruit trees..I've wrapped these up to the lowest branches with protective plastic wraps.

    Thank you everyone for the advice..and I'll probably learn to put the chicken fence up around any new plants next winter.
     
  16. Shooting may not be a option for some folks but it is for me. One spring I couldn't get anything started in my garden cause what ever came up would get snipped off by the rabbits. I got fed up with it so one morning I got up right at daylight and climbed up on the roof with a scoped 22 rifle. I picked off 7 rabbits that morning. The next morning I picked off 4 more rabbits and then the 3rd morning I picked off 1 more. After that I didn't have any more problems that spring/summer. Since then the rabbits haven't been as abundant around here for some reason.
     
  17. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One of my recent rabbit jobs was at the high school stadium. Fencing excluded the neighborhood foxes and occasional coyote, and the tailored grounds made for good rabbit food. To top it off, the area under the bleachers was filled with pallets of stadium stuff, creating all the habitat for a rabbit heaven. I used a pellet gun, got there at dawn, shot 18 in an hour. The next morning I got 12 more. That took care of them for one year. The second year I doubled the price and explained if they didn't eliminate the perfect rabbit habitat, I would double the price again. Fortunately, the pellet gun is still legal in that area, or else I would have had no alternative but trapping.

    Several years ago, a teacher released domestic rabbits when the school year ended. They stayed on the property. A year passed and the following summer there were 60 rabbits and hares hanging out on the school grounds. The rabbits were friendly enough for the kids to pick them up. A few of the kids started abusing a rabbit and when it died, a parent called the police. The rabbit was found to have fleas, and the newspaper got involved. The school was notified they could not open the doors until the rabbits and fleas were gone. What a nightmare. When I showed up at dawn each morning for nearly six weeks, there were a dozen kids and an occasional reporter. They were concerned that I would kill the rabbits. So I couldn't shoot them, if I didn't want to have my picture in the newspaper and the wrath of the bunny lovers following me around. I deputized the kids so they wouldn't sabotage the traps. I trapped only about a dozen. Fortunately, there was a vigilante with a 22 who I never did see. He was the real reason the rabbit population came down quickly. I knew there was a shooter because I caught a wounded rabbit and picked up a couple that crawled away from where they were shot. I never did publicize this until now.