Monday, February 13, 2012

Rabbit problems

Rabbit Problems
Apple fruit trees

    This is the worst year that my family has ever seen for rabbits. That's going back over 70 years of living in Fallon, Nevada. We have lost several mature dwarf fruit trees to rabbits girdling the trees. In the past the rabbits only bothered the smaller younger trees, but this year due to lack of water the rabbits are eating anything they can find. In the photo above you can see where the rabbits have dug down several inches to even eat the roots.

They are all but climbing the trees in order to strip the bark and eat it. Some have girdled trees as high as 24 inches off the ground. We have painted the remaining trees with a water-based latex house paint, and sprinkled the ground with moth ball crystals, in hopes of deterring further damage.

    As you can see they have not limited themselves to eating just fruit trees. Wind breaks that were planted to stop wind erosion have also suffered the onslaught of these rabbits. And in desperation the rabbits are even eating toxic plants that they would not normally eat, such as greasewood which is full of turpentine.



     Unfortunately the fruit trees that have already been completely girdled have been lost and there's not a whole lot that we can do about it. There are companies that do make plastic wraps the go around the fruit tree but are usually designed for younger trees. Using wire hardware cloth is an option, as is feral cats or a good watchdog, but some of the rabbits have learned to dig under the hardware cloth and avoid the dogs. Even though we have killed large numbers of the rabbits, their numbers seem to be replenishing from the rabbits moving in off the desert. With no food and water, rabbits could be one of this year's biggest problems.