Most of the common critters scampering around your yard all year make themselves scarce by November. Squirrels are hunkered down with their nut stashes. Chipmunks are hibernating in their secluded shelters. Even most birds fly disappear. Winter makes your yard a quieter, more animal-free place. At least… except for the rabbits.
Truthfully, rabbits aren’t any more active in winter than they are any other time of year. They’re not any less active either, however. If anything, you’ll notice rabbits more now than you did during the summer. The snow makes it much easier to notice certain… signs that they’re around. Rabbits can be annoying, disruptive, and destructive in your yard, even in winter. Here are the best ways to keep them away.
Fence Off Food
Rabbits never hibernate during winter, which means they have to keep eating all year. Unfortunately for them, rabbit’s usual food sources tend to become very scarce in winter. In order to stay healthy, rabbits have to adjust their usual diet during cold months. Instead of feeding on grass, clover, and berries, rabbits have to a lot less picky. Usually, they spend winter eating woody plant parts like twigs and stems, buds, or even bark.
Of course, just because rabbits can eat tree bark doesn’t mean they want to. Would you? If you keep decorative perennial plants, they’ll become a favorite snack for cold and hungry rabbits this winter. Likewise, virtually any evergreen trees or shrubs can provide much-needed sustenance to rabbit families. Consider installing wire mesh fencing around any trees, shrubs, or other plants in your yard. Keep about a foot of space between the plants and the fence. Make sure the mesh extends a couple inches underground, too, so rabbits don’t dig under it.
Clear The Clutter
When we said rabbits aren’t picky during winter, we really weren’t kidding. When rabbits forage for food in winter, they’ll snack on virtually anything they can find. Often, they’ll wind their way from snack to snack until they’ve eaten their fill. The more abundant the food source, the more attractive the area. Rabbits often snack on fallen twigs, branches, berries, or birdseed during snowy winter days. All that matters is that it’s close, accessible, and safe to eat.
You may not even notice, but all kinds of stuff tends to accumulate in your yard, even during winter. Winds blow twigs, dead leaves, fallen nuts, and all kinds of other stuff around constantly. Rabbits can and will sustain themselves on all of this random detritus if you give them half a chance. They’re particularly grateful for birdfeeders that leak their seed onto the ground. Clearing away cluttering from your yard periodically makes your property much less rabbit-friendly.
Seal Off Shelters
After food, the first thing rabbits look for in winter is shelter. During winter, a lot of the natural cover rabbits use to move around naturally disappears. Rabbits become considerably more exposed as they move from place to place, making them vulnerable to predators. Even though their fur does a pretty good job of insulating them, rabbits also tend to get cold. For both reasons, whenever rabbits aren’t out eating, they like to retreat to hiding places.
The more permanent, secluded, and inaccessible the hiding place, the better it suits a rabbit’s purposes. Obviously, that means they’re quite attracted to permanent structures like your home, deck, porch, or shed. Rabbits frequently spend winters hunkered down beneath people’s sheds, in small crevices or holes. They’ll even dig their own miniature burrows through snow if they have to. If rabbits can’t use your buildings for shelter, your yard becomes far less attractive to the little rascals.
Sprinkle Some Scents
Rabbits are naturally prey for a huge variety of common predators. In order to survive, they’ve had to develop some incredibly keen senses. Rabbits have amazing hearing and sight, but they also rely on their highly-developed sense of smell. Rabbits use their sense of smell to locate food, but also to know when predators are in the area. By smelling nearby predators, rabbits know which areas to avoid. You can use this to your advantage this winter.
There are several scents that will help keep rabbits away from your home. Most commercially available rabbit repellents replicate the scent of predator musk or urine. Rabbits also hate the smell of blood, crushed red peppers, ammonia, vinegar, and garlic. Consider sprinkling some of these ingredients on snow around your home. Hopefully, these scents will tell nearby rabbits to keep their distance. Don’t rely on scents alone, however: for good results, follow our other tips, too.
You don’t have to worry about rabbits this winter. No matter how cold it gets, rabbits always find a way to keep on kicking. There’s a reason why they’re always around come spring. Even if you keep them from hopping around your yard this winter, they’ll be just fine. The only difference is, you won’t have to put up with them.
If you need some help safeguarding your home from rascally rabbits this winter, give Varment Guard a call. We’re ready to help with your wildlife problems–rain, shine, or snow.BACK TO BLOG