Cast your eye upon this unwanted visitor in your garden. Is it cute? Undoubtedly. It is destroying all your most coveted crops? Most assuredly. Can you deal with its presence? Only time and the strength of your personal character will tell.
They are so wonderful, aren’t they?
You rescue them from the clutches of death itself (aka your cat) and you think that after you set them free to run, and frolic, and go back to doing what ever it is bunnies do, that they would practice a modicum of restraint when it came to chowing down on your lovely, very ripe, very tasty, very well producing garden.
Silly, silly you. Face facts. You are growing a literal garden of healthy, super delicious delights for the senses, and it’s just much too much for your little garden bunny dude to resist. It is a tender happy young critter, full of bounce and vigor and lettuce and peas and anything else it can get its chompy little mouth on, and it simply cannot help itself. It goes wild with desire when encountering your luscious chard and verdant spinach and everything else you tenderly and devotedly plant and weed and nourish. It hasn’t yet learned to grow wary of your cats and your big stomping feet and the hawks that perch on the roof of your house and cast a hungry eye at anything that twitches.
You can try chasing after those lovely critters yourself, if you so desire. You can hop and frolic and turn and twist and spin just like these fleet-footed furry speed demons, and see if that gets you any closer to catching them. Trust me, it will not. You will get more than a few sideways looks from your good neighbors who will know better then to question your activities, since they have grown wise enough to not comment directly on your less then normal, pro-experimental garden methods. Perhaps you might even develop a new type of dancing, or exercise method. Maybe you will win an award for it. I don’t know. I just know that I will try anything to catch those wascally wabbits, hell-bent on eating my garden!
I do try alternative methods. I once had the great filthy pleasure to dig up an old drainage field next to our house, which exists in a low-lying area. The clay drainage pipes we found, which were not inconsiderable in number, I ended up stacking into a sort of garden folly structure, off to the side of the vegetable garden. I figured the bunnies could hide in there, surrounded by local wildflowers and fill up on those lovely green items, instead of my spinach plants. It’s a garden practice/ methodology type of “sacrifice garden”. The theory of sacrifice gardens is exactly what you think it is. It provides a sort of safe haven for critters to live and survive in, eating greenery you choose to sacrifice to the bunnies, and thus providing an easier, less threatened growing season for your own vegetable garden.
I also grow especially tasty vegetables on top of my strawbale gardens. Bunnies, no matter how well they leap and jump, simply can’t make it to the top of these structural garden wonders. My crops of lettuce, radishes, turnips and whatnot remain unmolested and are easier to pick, and remain free from other garden damage from standing water, slugs, etc. its pretty cool. Look how beautiful! There’s more then one way to outsmart a bunny, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned, short of inserting land mines and setting snare traps all throughout the yard.
You know another reason why you have a hard time catching those rabbits? Those critters are healthier and faster and better than you. You know why I know this? Because they don’t eat junk food like us silly humans! They fill up on all YOUR lovely vegetables and fruits, so of COURSE they are healthier than you are! And you are stuck eating a stale bag of fast food instead of snacking on good home-grown veggies because those crazy furballs already ate all your good tasty produce. Ah. It’s a vicious circle.
Sometimes I think the only safe place in the world for these tiny little wonderful, terrible creatures, is inside our hands. See this one? Isn’t it all helpless and innocent and irresistible looking? And yet they chew and destroy quite happily our gardens and plants that we spend not inconsiderable amounts of time and money on. Grrr. It passes by no chance to dig and chew. They are opportunists on a grand scale and can happily wreak havoc that could easily be attributed to a much larger creature, like say, a Tyrannasarus Rex. How they manage to not grow to gargantuan size is beyond comphrension.
However, you are older than that springtime bunny and have learned how to thwart its nutritional intentions. At least partially. Let’s practice what we know. “Have a Heart” traps are really great at catching critters. Essentially they work like this: you put some sort of lure into the trap… fresh beautiful fruit, and set the trap. SNAP! You catch the little ravenous critter and your garden is safely preserved for the rest of eternity. Sounds easy, right? No. That’s not how it works. It is never that easy. Remember, there is ALWAYS another bunny. In wildlife terminology, bunnies are the french fries of the animal world, everybody eats them. Mama bunny has so many of them, in the brave hope that ONE of them may make it to adulthood. She teaches them things as well. When they are very small, one of their protective behaviors is to freeze, holding themselves quite still. That’s a pretty impressive feat, considering their natural bunny proclivity to run and dart and flit around on their magic little lucky feet. Taking advantage of Mama Bunny’s “freezing” advice is the only way we were able to grasp any of these tiny bunnies and take these photos. After photographing them, and cooing over their cuteness and scolding them about their garden wreckage, (and throwing in a cautionary tale about avoiding cats) we put then in a cardboard box and dropped them off in the not-too- local woods. They better stay there!
Catching them by hand is not always an option. So let’s discuss other methods of protecting your green little paradise.
First you must dig a trench completely surrounding your garden. Then practically kill yourself unwinding chicken wire and hardwire cloth and some sort of superior fencing material, insert it deeply in the aforementioned trench, and around any area of your garden that even hints of a wiff of defensive weakness. Only after your garden is secure will local bunny dudes and dudettes bother to venture into your lovely “Have a Heart” trap. Once caught, I usually take them to a wooded area and let them go. This practice doesn’t always work, as you have to take them MILES away from where you originally caught them. Their homing instincts are very strong. A friend of mine, a biologist told me once how he knew a guy who captured some particularly irritating squirrels and released them farther away. They continued to reappear. He had a theory the squirrels were the same ones, and so next time he caught them, he painted them, to mark them, and released them 20 miles away. Sure enough, they returned. Remarkable.
Then there was another person I knew, who hated a golf course development in a formerly wooded area. Like, really and truly HATED it. He ended up catching groundhogs in his own yard and released them at the newly created golf course and let them dig their way deeply into the hearts and minds of the groundskeeping crews. Yup. So, hearing all these stories makes me ponder what I will do once I catch, IF I catch, my own personal destructive bunny dudes.
But first, lets look at methods you can employ to impede their access to your property. When bunnies run away, they look for a place to hide. I weeded around the house, and found that bunny dude had dug dirt out from under my porch lattice. All of them, actually. Many little holes dug through dirt and plants and mulch, all ending underneath the front and or back porches. This provided bunnies a hole small enough to access areas far away from the claws and jaws of my cats. Turns out the tunnel lead to a very roomy and safe area under the porch, for them to hide away in, mock my kitties, and breed more rabbits. Those new rabbits, will in turn, go forth at all hours of day and night, and confidently chow down on even larger sections of your garden. This is not good. Not good for the garden, not good for you, but pretty fabulous for the bunnies. And there is never just one. They take shifts, giggling to themselves in their high pitched bunny voices, about how they have outsmarted you and your fellow garden-growing humans. And they get to dine upon your formerly lovely garden, all day and all night as well. You, little human, are bound to loose, because you (and your cats) will have to sleep sometime. And you are lulled to sleep by the sound of gentle munching of your garden by those furry beasts. When you sleep, you dream of bunnies and their giant gnashing teeth, ripping and rending and tearing away at your garden and your house, bit by bit, mouthful by mouthful. But enough about me.
My cats are very good at catching bunnies. Why rabbits feet are considered lucky, I don’t understand, because even with 4 of those lucky charms, each one that visits my garden still inevitably ends up in my cats belly. What I do when I discover these bunny access points around my house, I remove all weeds so I can see more clearly what is going on. I then pack dirt, and then more dirt into the formerly low area, pound it hard and flat, and then line the entire lattice with a row of bricks, or half bricks. This acts as an impediment to the digging and is a pretty reliable buffer of protection. It also presents a more formal appearance to your property, and helps to remove piles of materials and debris that may have already existed on your property in the first place, so it’s doing triple duty.
These photos show how I used piles of old bricks and used them as my home defensive border against an army of fluffy invaders.
In conclusion, protecting your garden from bunny destruction is great. Protecting your home is even greater, because these bunnies not only will burrow under your porches, they continue to dig once under your porch, quite often digging tunnels down to your foundation. These tunnels will fill up with stormwater later on, which will freeze and expand and can partially crack your foundation, which can possibly fill up with dead stinking unlucky bunny bits and pieces, which you will smell come spring. Trust me, you want to avoid this, and your bunny buddies also want to avoid it as well. Be a good gardener, and a friend to your bunny, and fence, and stack and build and do what you can to provide a good thriving environment for all.