If you plant a vegetable garden and you live in New Jersey, this news may concern you. Conditions are apparently perfect (a mild winter and enough spring rain to encourage a lot of vegetable growth) for an increased number of baby bunnies (link free for next 14 days only) this season.
There are an average of five bunnies in each litter, and the gestation period is just 25 to 31 days long. And “we’re seeing the second generation litters right now,” said Peter Hibbard, a Toms River biology teacher whose been working as a volunteer rabbit rescuer for more than 40 years…
The bunny population is also flourishing because natural predators — foxes and coyotes — are absent in many suburban settings where development has driven them out, said Weidman. He said occasionally a dog or cat might go after a rabbit but it is very infrequent.
The article provides some tips for keeping rabbits out of your yard to protect your property.
* Fencing your yard is the best way to keep the rabbits out.
* Keep your lawn cut short so the animals can’t build nests.
* If you disturb the nest and you believe the parents have abandoned the babies, contact rehabilitators.
Most nests go undetected, he said, adding it’s a common misconception that a nest is dug into the ground. It’s nothing more than a small indentation in the earth, lined with rabbit fur. Within six weeks, the babies are gone, he said.
Here are 10 steps for protecting your garden from rabbits naturally, without using poison. This article also includes some “homeopathic” suggestions from readers, including sprinkling human hair or shavings from strong soap around the garden.
However, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona says don’t bother with human hair, it doesn’t work.
What is tried and true when it comes to keeping rabbits out of the garden is a physical barrier. Anything strong enough and high enough to keep rabbits from punching through or jumping over will work.
A fence that extends well into the ground, seems to be the best solution. In general, perhaps the real answer is to co-exist with the animals. The university suggests planting enough food for your family as well as the furry visitors, but with the “bunny boom” in New Jersey, this just encourages overpopulation.
Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published August 20, 2006.