Backyard Critters: Rabbits

Wild rabbits sure are cute, but they can be pesky, eating flowers from the garden and even the bark off of trees. There are ways to attract these critters and still protect your garden.

Rabbits tend to eat leafy greens they find in most yards. They will look for dandelions and clover if they can find it, or they may ravage a vegetable garden, so be careful about trying to attract bunnies to your yard. Rabbits will also eat many of the things squirrels and chipmunks will eat if they can not find leafy greens. Rabbit damage is almost always the result of their appetite for garden plants. They eat flower and vegetable plants in spring and summer and the bark of fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs in the fall and winter. A well-constructed fence is the most effective way to protect your plants. Two-foot high chicken wire supported by posts every six to eight feet is strong enough to keep rabbits out. Stake the bottom securely to the ground to prevent rabbits from pushing underneath it. You can, also, plant a small garden with plants just for the rabbits to feed on. Rabbits like to nibble the leaves of herbs like parsley, basil, dill, fennel, mint, oregano and thyme. If you wish to be kind to rabbits in the area, leave a large patch of untouched lawn for them to graze on, you will be setting the perfect table for a dandelion feast. Rabbits find dandelions delicious--the crunchy stems and delicate leaves are irresistible.

Cottontails like to live at the edges of open areas. In fact, they are rarely found in dense forests or open grassland. Plant bushes and evergreens along the edge of the yard, or add brush piles for the rabbits to hide in. Build brush piles by placing sticks on the ground, with smaller twigs and leaves on top. Rabbits are also attracted to weedy areas and tall grass, so allow an area to grow, and do not mow it. Mowing and raking yards can disturb rabbit nests. Rabbits also like hollow logs and often use them as a place to have their babies. Keep cats and other animals from the yard that can catch and injure any small rabbits.

Related: Backyard Birds: Ducks

(Image:Earth Times)

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05.29.13  12:00PM    KAREN B

Categories: backyard habitat,gardening

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