Cottontail rabbits are small animals with speckled brown fur, which fades to white underneath. They have big eyes, long ears, and large hind legs and feet. Seldom weighing more than three pounds or exceeding 15 inches in length, they are named after their tails - a small tuft of white fur. Cottontails reside in areas with clearings, fields and shrublands. Many times, these common rabbits can also be found in backyards and more urban settings.
Cottontails are almost exclusively vegetarian as they use a wide variety of plants for food. During summer, they feed on tender green shoots, sprouts, leaves, clover, sedges and grasses. In the fall, herbaceous plants such as ragweed and crabgrass are utilized. Winter foods include buds, stems, and tips of low growing shrubs, vines and tree bark. Cottontails get their water from the plants they eat.
Surprisingly, eastern cottontails are very territorial. When startled, they will run in a zig-zag pattern up to 18 miles per hour! During the day, most cottontails hide in dense cover. Cottontails do not dig burrows, rather they tend to use shallow, scratched-out depressions in grass to rest within. Sometimes during extremely inclement weather, cottontails will seek shelter in abandoned groundhog dens. Eastern cottontails are crepuscular- meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. They are also active throughout the year.
One of the best ways to protect a backyard garden or berry patch is to put up a fence. It does not have to be tall or especially sturdy. A fence of 2-foot chicken wire with the bottom tight to the ground or buried a few inches is sufficient. Be sure the mesh is 1 inch or smaller so that young rabbits will not be able to go through it. A more substantial fence of welded wire, chain link, or hog wire will keep rabbits, pets, and children out of the garden and can be used to trellis vine crops.
Although frequently overlooked, removing brush piles, weed patches, dumps, stone piles, and other debris where rabbits live and hide can be an excellent way to manage rabbits. It is especially effective in suburban areas where fewer suitable habitats are likely to be available.
Taste repellents are usually more effective than odor repellents. The degree of efficacy, however, is highly variable, depending on the behavior and number of rabbits, and alternative foods available. When rabbits are abundant and hungry, use other control techniques along with chemical repellents.
Trapping is the best way to remove rabbits in cities, parks, and suburban areas. The first step is to get a well-built and well-designed live trap. Several excellent styles of commercial live traps are available from garden centers, hardware stores, and seed catalogs. Most commercial traps are wire and last indefinitely with proper care. You may also contact Critter Control and we can assist you with your rabbit control.