Rabbits

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Identification

  • Colour Grey, brown, white
  • Size From 45 cm to 80 cm
  • Also known as Eastern cottontails, White-tailed jackrabbits, Arctic hairs, Mountain cottontails, Snowshoe hares.
  • Description Varies between species

General Facts

The rabbits most commonly found in North America include several species of cottontails and hares. While they’re mostly solitary, rabbits are prolific breeders, so their populations increase rapidly. They are mostly nuisance pests and can cause extensive damage to gardens and private properties while looking for food and shelter.

Appearance

Five species of rabbits populate our service area: Eastern cottontails, White-tailed jackrabbits, Arctic hares, Mountain cottontails, and Snowshoe hares. Eastern cottontails typically weigh 1 kg and measure 45 cm long. They have dense grey-brown coats, and females are traditionally larger than males.

White-tailed jackrabbits are speckled and have long, distinctive, black-tipped ears. Arctic hares are one of the largest Canadian rabbit species and have thick white coats in the winter that aid in camouflage. In the summer, their coats turn a brown-grey colour.

Mountain cottontails have short, rounded ears and long hind legs, while snowshoe hares have wide hind feet that leave behind tracks that can easily be mistaken for snowshoes.

Habitat

Fields, swamps, and woodlands are some of rabbits’ favoured habitats. As they have many natural predators, rabbits need places with lots of groundcover for hiding. They frequently burrow underground and hide in brush piles. Rabbits are comfortable living in residential neighbourhoods, as well, and are commonly found in parks, gardens, golf courses, and other green spaces.

Diet

As herbivores, rabbits eat grasses, clover, herbs, lettuce, peats, dandelions, and the leaves of saplings. In the winter, when these meals are not regularly available, their diet includes the bark of birch, oak, maple, and dogwood trees, along with twigs, stems, and buds.

Life Cycle

Notorious for their breeding habits, female rabbits produce three to five litters each year. While pregnant, mothers rest in shallow nests lined with grasses and furs. They typically give birth after thirty days. Once the babies are two weeks old, they start to explore outside the nest but stick close to home until they’ve reached seven weeks of age. Rabbits can live up to seven years in the wild.

Problems Caused by Rabbits

Since farms and lawns offer prime food sources, rabbits are often considered pests by farmers and homeowners. They nibble on crops meant for human consumption and destroy expensive landscaping. Plastic irrigation lines can be damaged as the pests search for meals. Furthermore, although cases are rare, handling sick or injured rabbits can lead to the transmission of rabbit fever.

Signs of Infestation

People may be alerted to the presence of rabbit infestations in many ways. For example, finding their tracks is a good indication that they’ve been frequenting the area. Chewed sticks, missing tree bark, and ransacked gardens are all signs that rabbits have been feeding. Their droppings will be present in abundance, grouped together in small piles. Furthermore, if the pests are in the house, residents will hear them scurrying around.

Rabbits in the Garden

Rabbits frequently inhabit yards, munching on grasses, flowers, berries, fruits, and vegetables. These pests have multiple litters throughout the year, so they quickly become a problem for gardeners.

Common signs of a rabbit in the garden or yard include:

  • Gnaw marks on thick stemmed plants
  • Seedlings neatly clipped from their stems
  • Tracks and droppings found among garden rows

Once signs of damage appear, control is critical to avoid damage.

Tips for Control

Special fencing can keep rabbits out of gardens, especially since the pests usually won’t burrow underneath. Homeowners can also try putting netting and wire mesh around plants to keep rabbits at bay.

In addition, habitat modification can be effective. Eliminate any brush, tall grasses, and wood or rock piles to give rabbits fewer places to hide. In order to completely control rabbits in gardens, contact the wildlife professionals at Orkin Canada.

Rabbit Poop

These animals produce two different types of solid waste, but only one is commonly seen outside of a nest. Often found scattered or piled up in gardens, these droppings are brownish, hard, round pellets about 1 cm in diameter.

Rabbit waste is similar to white-tailed deer scat despite the pests’ size difference. Both animals leave pellets of the same size in mounds, although rabbit droppings usually only pile up when they are eating or hiding from a threat.

Otherwise, rabbit poop is distinguishable from other garden pest scat. Raccoons and skunks, for example, leave much larger, irregular faeces, and woodchucks typically excrete waste underground in burrows.

Homeowners dealing with excessive scat or garden damage from these pests are advised to contact the wildlife professionals at Orkin Canada for rabbit removal services.

Prevention

To exclude rabbits from private properties, individuals can erect fences that are planted a dozen centimetres in the ground and rise at least 1.5 m high. Homeowners should also remove collections of debris and brush to eliminate potential hiding and nesting sites. Scare devices such as flashing lights may also help deter rabbit infestations.

Rabbit Deterrents

Because of their cute appearance, rabbits often aren’t taken seriously as destructive yard pests. However, these animals can create considerable damage by gnawing on trees, clipping the blooms from flowers, or eating entire crops of vegetables.

To keep the pests away from prized plants, homeowners can try several types of rabbit deterrents.

Add Barriers

Installing one-metre-tall fences can prevent rabbits from entering lawns, while tree guards and wire mesh cages can avert damage to individual plants. Make sure fences are secured to the ground and a few inches deep in the soil, so that rabbits cannot squeeze underneath.

Modify Habitats

Removing hiding places around the yard may also discourage the pests. Keep lawns trimmed and clear away piles of brush and debris.

Use Scare Tactics

Rabbits are shy and cautious, but scarecrows and plastic owls will only fool them for a short time. Motion-activated devices or sprinklers may work, but can get expensive. Outdoor dogs and cats may also scare the pests away.

When habitat modification and exclusion fails, there are rabbit repellents available for use. The repellents vary in their effectiveness and are short lived. Some may harm plants, attract insects, or leave an unpleasant smell, therefore it is important to read and follow label instructions.

The best way to keep rabbits away from the yard is to contact Orkin Canada for effective prevention or humane removal.

Trapping/Control/Removal

Rabbits still manage to invade lawns and gardens even when homeowners employ prevention methods. As such, it is important to contact a wildlife control expert at the first sign of pest activity. The wildlife control professionals at Orkin Canada know how to safely and humanely remove and exclude problematic rabbits.

Rabbit Traps

Rabbits are fleet-footed and highly sensitive to human presence, making them hard to catch. These are ideal traits for animals that often get their next meal by stealing it from someone’s garden.

Rabbits can scamper into vegetation and dart off at the first sign of trouble. This is frustrating for gardeners who devote time and resources to trap rabbits.

Some might be tempted to use rabbit traps, but this isn’t always the best option. There are several types of traps, baited traps and cage traps, the most popular being baited live traps. Snare traps and nets are much less expensive, but require skill to use successfully.

No matter what trap is chosen, waiting to catch these pests requires a significant amount of time. Rabbit traps must be checked frequently without any guarantee that they will actually work. The best bet for rabbit removal is professional service. Contact your Orkin Canada wildlife specialist for help with trapping rabbits.

 

Why do I have rabbits?

The most common rabbits in Canada are Eastern cottontails, White-tailed jackrabbits, Arctic hares, Mountain cottontails, and Snowshoe hares. They like to live in fields, swamps, and woodlands, with lots of groundcover for hiding or burrowing.

However, on the quest for food and shelter, rabbits often make their way to residential areas and are commonly found in parks, gardens, golf courses, and other green spaces.

As herbivores, rabbits eat grasses, clover, herbs, lettuce, peats, dandelions, sapling leaves, and the bark, twigs, stems, and buds of birch, oak, maple, and dogwood trees. Farms and lawns can be particularly attractive.

How worried should I be about rabbits?

Rabbits can ransack gardens and farms, nibbling on crops meant for human consumption and destroying expensive landscaping and plastic irrigation lines. Handling sick or injured rabbits can also lead to the transmission of rabbit fever.

However, rabbits are prolific breeders, with females producing litters of up to 14 offspring up to five times a year. It's crucial to get the help of a professional pest control service as early as possible so your rabbit infestation can be eliminated quickly and for good.

How can I prevent rabbits invading?

Erect high fences that go underground too, Remove collections of debris and brush, Use flashing lights as scare devices

Are rabbits rodents?

Rabbits belong to the order Lagomorpha, while rats, mice, and other rodents are in the order Rodentia. Therefore, rabbits are not rodents.

Despite the taxonomic difference, the two pests are similar in some ways. In fact, both have large front teeth called incisors that grow continuously. Unlike a rodent, a rabbit has two sets of incisors. The smaller, second pair can be found directly behind the first.

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