Every winter after it starts to snow, I have a problem with rabbits. Normally, rabbits like to eat green grass and clover, but because there isn't any of that to be found in the dead of winter, they go after the only source of food that's available: bark.
In a desperate attempt to stay alive, rabbits have been eating the bark around the base of my apple trees and the beautiful bushes that surround my yard. This is very bad because the bark protects the trees from insects and harsh weather, and bark covers the live tissue that provides nutrients for the development of new growth in the spring. Stripping bark from a tree or a bush will eventually kill it.
On one hand, I feel sorry for the rabbits. All the tasty grass and clover that they usually eat is frozen and buried beneath the snow. They need food to survive, so they chew on the soft bark because that's all they can find to eat. On the other hand, I don't want to lose my trees and bushes, so I've done a few things to keep these furry little creatures away.
At first, I tried the most humane method of dealing with the problem. Last year, I gave the rabbits alfalfa (a dry grass that I bought at a pet store), believing that this would be a delicious alternative to my trees, but that just seemed to attract more rabbits. In the summer, there were baby rabbits everywhere.
Then, before the snow started to accumulate in the fall, I put poultry wire around the bushes and the trees that the rabbits were most likely to eat. Unfortunately, as the accumulation of snow on the ground grew higher, it became easier for the rabbits to reach the bark that remained uncovered. We've had a lot of snow this year, so the wire solution didn't work out all that well.
I also put a plastic owl in the yard and moved it around to different places in order to fool the rabbits into thinking it was a real owl, but the rabbits quickly figured out that the owl was fake.
Finally, I tried to trap the rabbits with a live trap. The way it works is this: food is used as bait inside the trap. When the rabbit walks inside the cage, the door closes behind it, and then I drive the rabbit to an area far away and release it. I've caught a half dozen rabbits this way, but I'm not sure if this has made a difference.
Recently, however, it seems that nature has provided the ultimate solution. Although I live in an urban area, a couple of foxes have moved into the neighborhood, and everyone knows that foxes love to eat rabbits. I've also noticed the arrival of crows and hawks in my backyard. So now there are fewer rabbit tracks, and my trees are starting to look a little better than they did just a few months ago.
Now you try it. Read the paragraph above. If you have a microphone, you can record your voice and compare it to my voice.
Return to the Reading Room