Repelling Peter Cottontail
June 15, 2010 11:40 AM   Subscribe

How do I make my yard less rabbit friendly?

I spotted a rabbit in my front yard this morning and, after chasing her away, noticed that she had started preparing a hole, presumably to raise little rabbits. This is a few months after I closed up a rabbit hole after nearly taking out a baby bunny with my trimmer. I can't stand for this.

I have a small patch of land, and one side of my yard is still hurting from the previous owner's dog. I can't have a rabbit digging up the good side. It's not that I hate the rabbits, or that I don't want them to have a place to live.

More than the lawn care issue, I'm terrified of running over them with the lawn mower. It's making me ill just thinking about ending a rabbit.

Aside from physically checking the hole, how can I be sure that:

a) they're gone when I go to mow my lawn tonight?
b) they don't return?
posted by moviehawk to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Get a dog.

Barring that, get some dried blood. Most herbivores are petrified of the smell of blood and will stay away if you spread it around. Works like a charm.
posted by valkyryn at 11:55 AM on June 15, 2010

Best answer: they're gone when I go to mow my lawn tonight?

How big is this lawn? Could you just do a walk around prior to mowing, generally making noise and thumping the ground with a rake?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:58 AM on June 15, 2010

Serious question - is dried blood available at a gardening store?

Also, we have a dog. Chasing rabbits busted up her knees and now she is bionic and always on a leash.
posted by rainbaby at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2010

Best answer: It might be available as fertilizer, and be labeled 'blood meal'. People use it as a supplement for roses, I think.
posted by GriffX at 12:04 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll probably find dried blood in the organic fertilisers section.
posted by Solomon at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: I could do a quick walkaround, CPB, and will. My greater concern is little bitty rabbits in the hole who might not be able to run away. What I want to do tonight is close out the hole.

Does anyone have any experience with commercial rabbit repellent, like this, in case blood meal isn't available at my hardware store?
posted by moviehawk at 12:08 PM on June 15, 2010

Water scarecrow to prevent future bunny settlements (and future potential neighbor-dog invasions), but as I always warn when I recommend a water scarecrow for pests, make sure you turn it off before you cross the yard, because I've been strafed by mine a few times and it's pretty easy to see why it is so effective.
posted by padraigin at 12:12 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Serious question - is dried blood available at a gardening store

Oh yeah.
posted by valkyryn at 12:13 PM on June 15, 2010

The only problem with the sprays that you linked to (usually containing rotten eggs & fox pee and other nasty smelling stuff) is that they are highly soluble and you have to reapply often in order to keep the critters at bay. I did not have great success with this on a bush that was getting chomped on by rabbits.

I have found that rabbits are much, much less destructive than the woodchucks we have been live-trapping in my boyfriend's yard for two summers, but I know other friends who have more nuisance rabbits in their yards. We have accidentally live-trapped a few bunnies in the process of trapping woodchucks, and it is also an option if natural repellents aren't keeping it away. Check a farm supply store for many, many critter repellents and live traps. One popular brand. Rotting fruit manages to attract a lot of critters, however little ground squirrels will often eat the bait without tripping the trap. We've had the best luck just placing the live trap directly in front of the hole and barricading the other sides so the critter is forced to go inside. We relocate the woodchucks to the country, but I don't know what the local guidelines are for this where you live.
posted by sararah at 12:15 PM on June 15, 2010

Bobcat pee.
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:17 PM on June 15, 2010

If you live in rabbit country, there may not be a lot you can do to keep the rabbits out of the yard. Almost every man I know (and many of the women, for that matter) has a story about "ending" a bunny as a teenager mowing lawns for spending money.

Our most bunny-free year was the year a pair of hawks nested on a local church spire. Best. Hawks. Ever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:28 PM on June 15, 2010

Yes, predator urine is the answer. If there is a farm supply store anywhere near you, it will work. The normal options are wolf/coyote, but there are others out there depending on where you are. Basically, you spray it it a couple times the first 14 days, and then again about once every 14 days, and it does its job.

Note that livetrapping often results in the death of the animal by starvation/predation/shock/aggressive territoriality (rabbits are pretty mean to each other), and/or they just come back if you don't take them far enough. And seriously, you can BOO a rabbit hard enough to kill it.

Should you ever need to really get RID of them versus keeping them away, I'm a fan of snaring. Rabbit is pretty tasty, too, and wholesome source of lean protein.
posted by TomMelee at 12:30 PM on June 15, 2010

Is your yard fenced? How easy/hard is it for other animals, like dogs, to get in? Because dried blood can smell awfully interesting to some dogs, so you don't want to trade one problem for another. Predator urine would be a safer bet.
posted by ambrosia at 12:38 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: Is your yard fenced? How easy/hard is it for other animals, like dogs, to get in?

Yes, it's fenced. Rabbits and other small animals are the only ones who are likely to get in.
posted by moviehawk at 12:41 PM on June 15, 2010


Barring being able to find unused landmines, and not wanting to destroy your yard even futher, what about a cat?
posted by TheBones at 12:45 PM on June 15, 2010

I think that the only way to be sure is a physical inspection.

My husband had an unfortunate run-in with a surprise nest of baby bunnies while mowing the piece of lawn next to our garage. He was horrified at what happened, but I was even more horrified when I was out with the dog later that evening and saw the mama bunny looking for the babies. It was just terrible. Fast forward to this year, we discovered the beginnings of a nest on the other side of lawn just yesterday. I want him to flag the area and just mow around it. Our lawn will look goofy, but at least we won't have more baby bunny slaughter on our consciences.
posted by crankylex at 1:06 PM on June 15, 2010

Unless the rabbits are eating things you don't want eaten why bother? One rabbit hole hardly seems like an issue. If you do not like its appearance just fill it in. They will dig another and if that is also unsightly fill that in. Eventually they will dig one out of the way where you won't notice or care.
posted by caddis at 1:11 PM on June 15, 2010

I personally like bunnies in the yard. But I can understand your issue. They can be destructive and there is nothing worse that weed wacking a bunch of baby bunnies. Cats and dogs will help, but come with their own set of issues. Other than outright killing them, try dried blood. For small areas you want to keep rabbits out, try surrounding it in chicken wire fencing.

But if you can, get a terrier. Your bunny problem will be solved and you will have an awesome friend.
posted by fifilaru at 2:06 PM on June 15, 2010

Blood meal tied in a cheesecloth or a nylon and hung in the area repels the rabbits for a bit longer than just sprinkling it on the ground.

You should probably enclose your most prized plants and trees in little hardware cloth cages, too. That's called the exclusion method, and it's the only thing that really works.

Commercial rabbit repellents claim to work up to 2 months, but in my experience I'm lucky if they last a couple of days.

My local humane society will euthanize rabbits that are caught in live traps for a fee. Suppsoedly it's bad to re-release them since rabbits are territorial.
posted by Ostara at 2:33 PM on June 15, 2010

I just learned at the local garden center that predator urine is preferred to blood (not sure why though). A surprising selection of predator urines is available in liquid or dry sprinkly form. We just bought some fox urine (Leg Up brand, I kid you not) to keep chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits out of our garden. Too soon to tell if it's working.
posted by dayintoday at 3:58 PM on June 15, 2010

You say your yard is fenced, but obviously not well enough, heh! Are the bunnies squeezing in through a gap, or does the fence itself allow them access? If your yard is small enough, it should be feasible to block their access entirely.

As a bonus, it's a "one-time cost and bother/permanent effect" measure, so you're not stuck setting out sachets of blood meal for the rest of your life.
posted by ErikaB at 4:22 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: It's a picket fence, so it's not made to keep bunnies out. A doggie could be an option, but I'm allergic to most dogs.

If I could encourage the rabbit to live behind my shed, where I don't have to bother mowing, I'd welcome them.

There didn't seem to be any babies in the hole, and the rabbit was gone, so I filled it in, cut the grass, and sprinkled my flowerbed and around my fence with bloodmeal. We'll see if it keeps mama away. Thanks everyone...I feel much less panicked now that the grass is cut.
posted by moviehawk at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2010

The rabbit in my yard has stayed away from my garden since I started sprinkling our used coffee grounds everywhere. Free, easy, non-toxic.
Mind you, this was around the same time I found some rabbit bones under the porch. So maybe that was what scared it away.
posted by Adridne at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: I just walked through my yard again after a month of heavy rain and reapplied the bloodmeal. I've seen rabbits hanging out in the neighborhood, but so far none are shacking up in my yard. Thanks!
posted by moviehawk at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2010

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