Campus News

Wildlife biologist shares ways to draw and deter bunnies

Michael Mengak, wildlife biologist and professor at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, spoke with Blue Ridge Country to share tips on attracting and repelling bunnies.

To attract bunnies, don’t be afraid to get a little messy. Allow honeysuckle vines and blackberry vines to spread.

“If there’s vegetation, and there’s cover, you will likely have rabbits,” Mengak said.

According to Mengak, rabbits will eat just about anything you grow in your garden, so don’t worry about growing specific veggies, like carrots.

Building a habitat for bunnies could draw predators like hawks and coyotes, so be mindful of small pets that go outdoors.

To deter bunnies, Mengak suggests clearing debris and undergrowth. Another option is to spray deer and rabbit repellent in garden areas. The repellent smells like sulfur to rabbits, but humans generally don’t notice it.

“Remember, most of these animals have a sense of smell that’s 100 or 1,000 times better than ours. It may smell bad to them, but [to us] it really doesn’t smell like a rotten egg sitting in your trash can in your kitchen because you forgot to take out the trash last night,” said Mengak.

For a more permanent solution, erect a sturdy fence around the yard. A 2-foot-tall section of chicken wire will keep bunnies away from tomatoes and other vegetables.

“Rabbits don’t climb like raccoons do,” Mengak said. “And they don’t jump like deer.”

Mengak warned to not worry if the bunnies spotted last year are nowhere to be found.

“Just because they disappear doesn’t mean there’s necessarily a rabbit disaster. The habitat changes, and the rabbits change, and they go somewhere else to live,” Mengak said.