Well, I've finally given up

Tried for weeks using a live trap to catch a rabbit (or two?) that have been slowly destroying my potted trees. Each day the trap was empty but the apple core was almost devoured. Woke up this morning to find my 1 year apple trees reduced from new 4-5 inch branches up and down the 24 inch trunk to only a leaf or two. My bud 9 rootstock destroyed, eaten to almost nothing. My Splash Pluot, 2 three year old branches chewed right off at the base, Leah Cot had the end of a branch chewed right off and unfortunately it didn’t go all the way through… so the rabbit pulled on it ripping the bark from half the branch all the way past the trunk.

So what to do? No more live trap… borrowing my friends conibear trap. After 2 months I’ve finally had it!

was it a haveaheart trap? I’ve had good success with those, may have to WD40 the locking parts so it snaps close smooth, I’ve got 2 raccoons so far this year.

Like Moley said, wd40 the hinges. Also, I put the bait behind the trap floor so they hop on top of it to get the bait. Make it hard to get to, like wiring it to the back of cage. Do you have deer? What you described is what deer do to my trees. They tear limbs off and what they can’t tear off, they break. I have many bunny rabbits that I walk around while working in the orchard and garden. Mine are pretty tame and haven’t harmed any of my stuff, YET. I keep an eye on them though. That’s a shame to have trees ruined like yours. Good luck with your trapping or shooting.

I use Safeguard traps and they are virtually bullet proof. Some animals
can figure out the traps and can get to the bait without springing the trap.
Try putting an old license plate or a piece of light metal over the trap spring
door. In that way, the animal has to step on the plate in order to get to the
bait, and the trap gets sprung. Works every time. Also put rabbit guards on
your trees, so they can’t get to them.

A conibear kills indiscriminately. I would not use it. Better to get an air rifle… and better yet to add the extra piece RayRose described. If it is the have a heart trap the extra piece can go on the plate edge and floor to make a ramp. or put the bait past the plate and block off one end.

Same here. I even have apple seedlings at ground level that they never touch. I don’t know what they eat, but it must be natural vegetation. I worry about rabbits when everything is dormant and trees/shrubs are the only food source.

Deer do all the devastation here during the summer. Daylight activity depends on location and the environmental conditioning. Most deer are skittish during the day and will only raid areas of human activity at night when humans are sleeping.

Are you sure it is rabbit doing?

Hi AJ. I plant wheat, rhye and oats for the deer and bunnies in the Fall that lasts thru Spring. So easy, just broadcast by hand. I know they appreciate me, or seems like it.

I tried… seems that the rabbit has found a way to avoid the mech that closes the trap.

No, I have deer too. They graze. This isn’t deer damage. If it was deer damage then the deer must be laying on the ground looking up while they eat. Also the trees are in pots and some of the issues are the trees in the middle. The deer would have to find a way to get in the middle which even i cannot do without moving the trees.

Yes it is a shame. I have figured that over the course of 4 years I have had probably close to $2-300 worth of damage done and about 5-6 trees killed due to deer. Because of that I put up a fence around my peaches and plan on extending that same fence around my plums. The DNR around here frowns on you protecting your personal property from their property. They believe they don’t own the deer but if I kill one on my property they will send me a bill for the cost of a replacement. Yet funny thing is if I send them a bill for the cost of my trees they have already told me they will not pay it.

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I understand the drawbacks to using such a trap which is why I am putting it in the middle of my trees (3 rows of potted stock) and on top of a pot. The trap would be placed at the entrance to the current Have-A-Heart so it would only be triggered by an animal entering going after the bait (which I found they love my plums and apricots the most). I don’t have much of a worry about just anything getting in there that shouldn’t.

Yep. positive. I have even walked out to find it sitting in one of my pots ripping branches off. I run at it, it moves about 10 feet and sits there. They have even done damage to my yard with “digging in” for the night. I come out to find these 1ft diameter holes dug in my yard with shedded fur in it. really annoying.

We used to have outdoor tame/wild cats around but someone took care of them which was a real shame. They controlled the rabbits, moles, and other critters. Now these things just run wild. The only good thing is now we got a lot more diverse bird population over the past year.

We used to have quite a few foxes in the neighborhood and then they just suddenly all disappeared like your cats. I have wondered if someone became worried about them, or maybe rabies, and poisoned them all, since I can’t imagine any other reason they all disappeared over the course of a few months.

Now when I walk around the neighborhood there is a rabbit munching away in almost every yard. Ugh. They haven’t done as much damage as the deer, but have destroyed a bunch of beans, chard and done a pretty good early spring pruning on my Carmine Jewel cherries. I’m worried about those CJs and all my apple bench grafts growing in the yard this winter.

More on the deterrent side, my dog (Husky mix) has begun to really shed out her coat, so after brushing her I put the clumps of hair around the remainder of the bush beans and they seem to have been spared as of late. I don’t know how well it would work for you, but besides trapping you might see if you could get some animal hair from a local groomer.

It might be worthwhile to get a cat. My tom cat takes care of moles, bunnies, and chipmunks. fight with raccoon, and squirrels . I have enough strawberry, gooseberry and blueberry harvested without net.

Sean, can you put some chicken wire or hardware cloth around the tree? A physical barrier?

My rabbits will almost never go into a trap- especially the willey older ones. I’ve tried leading them in with sacrificial bate and wearing rubber gloves so as not to leave my odor. They also never do any damage to my trees in the growing season- it is winter when they become such a nuisance, mostly when they girdle young trees as high as the snow line and their height. Why haven’t you fenced them out with about 3’ of 1" chicken wire? That’s how I protect my garden.

Your rabbits must be somewhat desperate for food I think.

@IL847 Yeah… we have 3 of our own that are inside cats. The only problem as I stated earlier is that the 2 (possibly 3-4, some were hard to distinguish at a distance) have all since left and its only been in the past months that they all of a sudden disappeared. I would have much rather kept them around as long as they didn’t use my raised beds as litter boxes.

@hoosierquilt I had thought about that but when it comes time to water, moving the trees, dealing with pests, etc and the amount I would have to buy and the hassle of using it and attaching it to each of my 30+ pots ranging in size from small 1, 7, 15 gallon soft side, and around 12 one gallon hard containers it would be a nightmare. I had no issue with the rabbits being there but when they wiped my wifes garden down to almost nothing in the matter of 1 night then have systemically devoured each and every one of my trees did I finally come to this. I have tried for about 2 months to catch it (them?) in the Have-a-Heart trap but each and every time the bait is eaten and no rabbit to be seen. A buddy at work had a peach tree that was 3 years old that a herd of rabbits took down just last winter. Bark all around the trunk gone. This year he has went to shooting them to get rid of them. Has taken down so far 6 in his 1/4 acre lot in the past few weeks.

@alan We have the same issue with deer. When you drive past them they are mostly skin and bones. My wife even commented on how they look starved yet all the shruby growth around (from wild black berry bushes, to maples, to aspens, to oaks) remain untouched. They prefer the fruit trees to anything else and it appears they would rather starve then eat what is easily accessible. Same with the rabbits. If they were truly starving I can understand it, but it isn’t exactly the case.

Sean, just wrap your trunks. You don’t need to “attach” anything to the pots. Can you not wrap your trunks to prevent the rabbits from girdling your trees? And for your garden, I had to fence my in IN. Pretty typical. But, I had a HUGE garden and it was worth enclosing it. That kept the rabbits out. And, forget about the Have A Heart traps, use something lethal. Rabbits are pests plain and simple. Where I live, we are not allowed to trap and release rabbits. They are deemed pests in California, and you would be releasing the pest to wreak havoc on someone else’s property. It’s a pretty hefty fine if caught.

Its not the trunks I’m worried about at the moment. Luckily they haven’t touched those. I should have the trees in the garage by the time these things would come looking to eat the bark. What they have done is ripped off any low branches and taken any new growth from 24 inches down off completely. All my trees are headed at 18-24 inches (following BYOC practice) so almost all the new growth on my 1-2 year old trees has been removed along with some older branches that have been chewed in half. Right now as it stands if my apples don’t survive thats about a $150.00 loss right off the bat. That doesn’t even take into account the fertilizer, pots, mix, time, etc.

Its more frustrating than anything else. As I stated earlier I didn’t just start with this conclusion, its been months in the making. This animal has had every chance to save itself. I have tried chasing it away, placing objects on top of the soil to prevent it from getting a good footing (that just made it easier for it to get at even higher growth), to even using the HaH trap to relocate it. every chance has been met with it just giving me the finger and even more destruction.

So you didn’t answer my question about a fence. This is the usual way gardeners control rabbits because they aren’t the climbing type of vermin. They also seem to be repelled by the smell of blood, so alternatively you could use a dried blood concoction or spring for some plantskydd.