Discover everything you need to know about rabbits in our guide below.
What are Nuisance Rabbits?
To some people, rabbits may be cute, mostly harmless wildlife. To gardeners and landscapers, though, bunnies are a destructive, frustrating nuisance animal.
Today, there are 15 species of rabbits and hares in North America, but the most common nuisance varieties include the black-tailed hare (also known as the jackrabbit), the desert cottontail, and the brush rabbit.
Rabbit Habitats, Diet, and Behavior
Jackrabbits live in open or semi-open valleys and foothills rather than dense brush or woodlands. They’re common in the areas surrounding urban and suburban developments and are known to damage golf courses, airports, parks, and farm fields.
Desert cottontail and brush rabbits tend to live in densely-covered, brushy areas and only venture a few feet from a shrub to feed. They like rocks and debris they can hide under and may burrow under raised sheds or other manufactured structures.
All bunnies prefer green vegetation, with grass and plants making up the bulk of their diet. In certain habitats, rabbits will eat leaves, seeds, or bark. Because their food contains such a high moisture content, some rabbits can survive without a reliable source of drinking water.
Breeding season for rabbits begins in December and runs through late summer. Litters average 2-4 young, with 5-6 young possible in rare cases.
What Damage Do Rabbits Cause?
Despite their small size, rabbits can severely damage gardens and landscaped areas. This is especially true anywhere wild, unmaintained land borders residential areas, since wild lands provide unaltered habitats for rabbits to breed, rest, and hide.
Left to their own devices, rabbits will eat a wide variety of crops and plants, including vegetables like broccoli, carrots, peas, and lettuce. They’ll also consume berries and fruit from trees, including apples, cherries, citrus fruits, and plums, as well as herbs and ornamental plants, including flowers, trees, shrubs, and turf.
As they feed, rabbits may gnaw plastic irrigation lines. If saplings are present, rabbits will eat the bark from around the trunk of the trees, eventually girdling or removing the inner and outer bark from the tree.
How to Get Rid of Rabbits
We recommend using repellents like blood meal and installing rabbit-proof fences around gardens and landscaping. Habitat modification is also essential – since rabbits love the dense brush, trimming your landscaping will make your yard less attractive.
To protect plants, create a barrier using chicken wire and live traps. If you have a jackrabbit problem, there are also jackrabbit baits on the market, but they’re highly restricted and present various risks.
For a more extensive breakdown of your options, check out our complete guide on the topic.
There is no federal law restriction on rabbit control, and each state differs in its regulations.
This means that, if the bunnies are destroying landscaping, crops, gardens, or ornamental plants, you do not need a license to hunt, capture, shoot, or kill rabbits as long as you’re not selling their pelts or meat for profit.
Even if killing rabbits on your property is legal, we always advocate for humane removal methods that don’t kill or harm the rabbits.
Rabbits can carry diseases like pasteurellosis, ringworm, mycobacteriosis, cryptosporidiosis, external parasites, and tularemia, also known as rabbit fever.