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Monday, October 7, 2013

Rabbits a Problem? Fencing and Rabbit Resistant Plants

Q. Do you have any solutions for keeping rabbits from eating plants? I live in Sun City Anthem and they are a real problem. I just planted some lovely gerbera daisies and they've eaten the plants to the ground.

Rabbit damage to mockorange by rabbits. They chew off plants at an angle.


Rabbits cut off plants at an angle with their teeth

A. There are two solutions as far as I know. One is to put in plants resistant to rabbits or the other is to exclude them with fencing that keeps them away from the plants. If rabbits are terribly hungry, garlic or pepper sprays don't seem to help much. Hunger overrides fear of getting caught.

            Usually one inch mesh chicken wire will work as long as it is about 24 inches high and buried a few inches below the soil surface so they cannot get their nose under it or dig.

            If rabbits have other food choices they may not damage your plants so much. Encourage your neighbors to plant carrots!

Rabbit resistant plants University of Arizona click here


  1. I am posting this and edited it for someone who lives in one of the Sun City properties and is afraid to reveal their identity. This topic has brought me more emails of a heated nature than I ever had since i have been writing since 1996.

    I have lived in Sun City for a long time now, and yes—the rabbit population has exploded. I have never had this much plant damage in all the years I have lived here. And—these residents have only themselves to blame for that. PLEASE do not use my name or email address if you ever use this information in a future column because I do not want to be lynched.

    Sun City residents have done everything possible to rid this desert of a natural enemy of the rabbits: the coyote. Because many of these people simply want to open back doors and let their pets our (too lazy to watch them) or leave food out for them for convenience, they asked SCA leaders, the City officials, wildlife officials, etc. to eradicate the coyotes from here. They succeeded. This natural predator of the rabbit is gone.

    I walk as this is a good time for me, and I have not seen or heard a coyote in over 3 years. I am XX blocks from the golf course. Prior to this, I would see them, and they were never aggressive toward humans…and went on their way looking for prey. Every time there was some story about a pet or human being attacked, I investigated it—only to find fanciful stories, exaggerations, and false rumors.

    Thanks to your column about chicken wire, I now get to see beautiful homes and areas with plants surrounded by this unsightly wire…very classy and attractive. NOT!

    If these people had let nature take its natural course, I would not be seeing chicken wire on every front area.

    This is the desert. When I moved here, I knew that I would have to adapt to it---predators, heat, drought, etc. People coming from areas of the country where they know nothing of desert living simply want to change the desert into the Midwest or California or New York or wherever.

    I enjoy desert living. Why can’t others accept what living in the desert if like and adapt?

    Thanks for your great columns which are informative and interesting.

  2. Perhaps an owl friendly yard. :-)

    I am surprised this has generated a lot of letters to you. Coyotes will definitely grab unwary cats and small dogs---though dogs are extremely aggressive towards coyotes and will attack with the intent to kill when spotted.