Identifying and Deterring
Compiled by the makers
of Deer Scram™ -- America’s Finest Deer Repellent™
Innocent eyes, soft furs
and billowy tails
characterize the many
species of rabbits and hares found across North
America. But the warm-and-fuzzy pictures painted
by what appears to be nature’s most gentle
wildlife are frequently blurred when the
flop-eared rodents – yes, rodents – forage and
shred homeowners’ prized shrubs, gardens and
flowerbeds. In fact, it’s been said that it’s
easier to identify what’s not eaten by rabbits
than what is.
snowshoes and jackrabbits are the
common names for members of the family
Leporidae, which includes a number of
subspecies. Both hares and rabbits are included in
this family of small mammals that are distributed
around the world, but “rabbit” is used
interchangeably to describe these prolific
Adult males, called bucks, fight one another with
their teeth when they court the same females,
which are known as does.
Both species bear four to eight
litters a year, with three to eight young in each
On average, 15 percent of the young survive their
Because of their high productivity rate,
rabbits are an important link in the food
chain and are principle prey for many species.
It is also a popular game species throughout
Rabbits of all species live about 10 years.
They weigh from about 2 pounds to 13 pounds
and attain a length of about 12 to 28 inches.
They prefer to live in regions where the soil
is loose and dry, and where brushwood offers
shelter. Rabbits are valued as game by
hunters, as food and for their fur, but they
often are pests to farmers whose trees and
crops they destroy.
New England Cottontail
primary wild rabbit of North America is the
cottontail, of the genus Sylvilagus, and of
which there are two species – the New England or
Appalachian cottontail, and the eastern
cottontail. Its name is derived from the white
undersurface of its short tail, which resembles a
puff of cotton. The cottontail is noted for
remaining motionless to avoid notice when it
senses danger. The rabbit, which swims and
includes among its cousins the so-called
“cane-brake”, “marsh” or “swamp” rabbit of the
Southern wetlands, also evades enemies by plunging
into lakes or streams.
Combined, the cottontails range east of the Rocky
Mountians from southern Canada south to eastern
Mexico and points south. Another population is
found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The
eastern cottontail is more abundant and is
expanding its range, while the New England
cottontail's range is diminishing.
The cottontail rabbit is a somewhat stocky animal
with large hind feet, long ears, and a short,
fluffy tail that resembles a cotton ball. Its
long, coarse coat varies in color from
reddish-brown to a black or grayish-brown. The
underparts are white. The New England cottontail
and the eastern cottontail are almost identical in
appearance, except for a slight variation in
color. About half of the eastern cottontail
population show a white, star-like shape on the
forehead while none of the New England cottontails
exhibit this trait.
Cottontails have very keen sight and hearing. When
danger is sensed, the animal will usually freeze
in place until the danger has passed, but they
will flush readily if approached too closely.
Rabbits normally move slowly in short hops or
jumps, but when frightened they can achieve speeds
up to 18 miles per hour over a short distance.
They often zig-zag to confuse a pursuing predator.
Cottontails prefer to live and forage among the
edges of open fields and meadows, areas of dense
high grass, in wood thickets, along fencerows,
forest edges and along the borders of marshy
Dense forests and thickets attract cottontails at
high elevations, especially birch/red maple
forests, hemlock and rhododendron areas within
oak-hickory forests, blueberries, mountain laurel
and coniferous forests. It has been cited, too,
that they prefer 6- to 7-year-old clearcuts and
old overgrown farmsteads and pockets of
is largely nocturnal, active
from early evening to late morning.
summer, cottontails feed almost entirely on tender
grasses and herbs; crops such as peas, beans, and
lettuce are also eaten. In winter, bark, twigs and
the buds of shrubs and young trees are eaten.
varying hare -- Lepus americanus -- known
popularly as the snowshoe rabbit, is distributed
widely throughout North America, from throughout
Canada, extending south along the Rockies and into
the southern Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee,
but not into the Great Smoky Mountains.
Four subspecies of snowshoes are recognized among
a common abundance of animals in good habitat.
However, numbers of snowshoes are decreasing in
areas of deforestation and increased white-tailed
deer populations, which out-compete the snowshoe
for many foods both animals prefer. It is a forest
species, never far from dense woods including
swamps and thickets. It is often found in dense
second-growth forests of beech, birch, maple and
young spruce. Rhododendron and mountain laurel
thickets are its habitat in the southern
Snowshoes are so named because of its large rear
feet, the toes of which can spread out to act like
snowshoes. Their feet also have fur on the bottom,
which protects them from the cold and gives them
traction in the snow. During wintertime, the large
track prints are conspicuous. The hind foot print
is in front of the front foot print.
In summer, the hare’s coat is is rusty, grayish
brown to dark brown in color; however the animal’s
fur grows in wintertime -- except for a black
edging on the ear tips -- lending it camouflage to
thwart its predators. The change sometimes occurs
in patchwork fashion and generally requires about
two months, completed about the same time the
ground is covered with lasting snow. In the Coast
Range the winter color may change only to a
patchwork of brown and white or it may not change
The snowshoe hare is a strict vegetarian. It is
usually active at night and in the early morning,
when it feeds on juicy green plants and grass in
summer, when among its preferred foods include the
southern highbush cranberry,. During winter it is
dependent mostly on shrubs and trees and is fond
of aspen, willow, alder and maple. It eats the
bark, twigs and often the needles of conifers,
including fir, cedar, hemlock, spruce and
hare, Lepus californicus, known as the
jackrabbit, is found in the western parts of the
United States and Canada. Known for its speed,
both white-tailed and black-tailed jackrabbits can
run up to 45 miles per hour and can bound 15 to 20
feet in a single jump. Because this species
competes with grazing animals for food, livestock
owners in the western US have undertaken great
drives to reduce the hare population, which has
been estimated to be as high as 8,000 per square
mile. Jackrabbits may carry tularemia, a
bacterial disease that can be fatal to humans.
Long ears – as much as 5 inches long -- big feet,
long hind legs and brushy tails characterize the
jackrabbit. Its fur is typically a dark buffed
color or silver that is peppered with black. A
prominent black stripe runs from its rump to the
top of its tail. Its distinctive long ears, which
are tipped with black, helps keep them cool as
blood passes into their ears and is cooled by the
breeze before passing into other parts of their
bodies. The soles of a jackrabbit's feet are
covered with fur. This cushions their feet on hard
ground and insulates them from the scorching heat
of the desert sand. The jackrabbit's eyes are
situated on the sides of its head, giving it
all-around vision that enables it to spot danger
coming from any direction.
Jackrabbits live in the extreme environments of
the desert, high plains and chaparral, where
temperatures are hot during the day and cold at
night, and there isn't a lot of rain. They can be
found on brushlands, prairies, pasturelands and
meadows -- open areas where they can see predators
coming. An individual jackrabbit ranges across
about 10 acres.
Under the cover of darkness – from dusk to dawn –
jackrabbits forage with relative security but they
always seem to be on their guard. Alert to their
surroundings and watchful of potential threats,
they rely on their speed to elude predators, and,
if they are lucky enough to escape, they will
flash the white underside of their tail to alert
other jackrabbits in the area.
Jackrabbits are strict vegetarians. During the
spring and summer, they feed on clover, alfalfa
and other abundant greens. During the lean fall
and winter months, they subsist on woody and dried
vegetation. They will also eat sagebrush and
cacti. Jackrabbits rarely have to drink, ingesting
most of their water from the plants they eat.
Fifteen jackrabbits can eat as much as one
full-grown cow in one day. Occasionally, they raid
crops and flowerbeds and cause extensive damage.
Jackrabbits are herbivores. They leave their
resting spots at dusk to feed on tough grasses,
leaves, and twigs. They will also eat sagebrush
and cacti. They only come out at night to feed.
Fifteen jackrabbits can eat as much as one
full-grown cow in one day. Occasionally, they raid
crops and cause extensive damage.
Other protective adaptations include keen senses
of smell, eyesight, and hearing. And they depend
heavily on shrubs such as sagebrush for protective
cover. Jackrabbits are the principal prey of
golden eagles and are an important food source for
coyotes, common ravens, the great horned owl,
long-eared owl, barn owl, ferruginous hawk,
Swainson’s hawk and red-tailed hawk. Humans, too,
are a predator of jackrabbit.
rabbits are greatly nocturnal, humans rarely see
them feeding and foraging in both wild and
landscaped settings except near dawn or dusk. When
not active, rabbits rest in a depression in the
ground called a “form.” Their home range can
extend to as much as 15 acres, which is covered on
generally the same trails every day. All of life’s
needs are found along their daily trails. Even
when running from danger a rabbit will usually
stay on its trail, which generally loops around in
a wide circle.
Rabbits leave signs of their presence. They include prints
and scat (droppings). Rabbit scat changes
depending on what the animals have been eating.
Usually, they are dark pellets the size of peas,
and they are sometimes found in piles.
The presence of rabbits in manmade landscapes is
also characterized by damage to garden plants,
ornamental flowers and shrubs.
Rabbit browsing can be distinguished from deer
browsing by the
appearance of gnawed older woody growth and
clean-cut clippings of young stems.
A rabbit will leave a clean, angled cut while a
deer will leave a rough, jagged cut. Browsing and
debarking by rabbits usually does not extend more
than 2 1/2 feet above the ground or snow line.
The presence of rabbits does not always result in
damage to personal property. Before implementing a
control program, correctly identify the species
that caused the damage and compare the time and
costs of control to the expected level of damage
and economic returns. Many people have tried
scarecrows, owl and snake effigies, pinwheels, pie
pans spinning in the wind and several other
creative devices to frighten rabbits out of
gardens and other areas.
Certainly, frightening devices are simple to use,
but they cannot be relied on to protect plants
from damage because rabbits acclimate very quickly
to noise and movement. Excluding rabbits from
valuable plants is a long-term solution to costly
damage and relatively easy to enforce. A fence of
1-inch mesh chicken wire will keep all rabbits out
of a garden or flowerbed. But where rabbits are
found, so too are deer a frequent visitor.
it comes to accessing urban food-scapes,
rabbits are, perhaps, more likely than deer to
approach homes and manmade landscapes, and are
likely to feed on valuable shrubs, trees,
vegetables and ornamental flowerbeds. At first
glance, rabbit foraging seems like it would be
less damaging than the browsing of deer. And while
rabbits are frequently lone feeders, over time several
feeding rabbits can inflict heavy foraging damage
on the plants they
a result, rabbit deterrents range wide across the
horizon of the imagination. Numerous offensive products –
both professionally and personally cooked up to
protect ornamental shrubs, trees, flowerbeds and
vegetable gardens – are made to attack their tastebuds and their noses. Many temporarily turn
rabbits away, but their cleverness eventually results
in failed remedies.
Fencing, too, is often tried to prevent rabbits
from getting into gardens, and, it is, indeed, a
great solution. Rabbit fencing is often attractive
and need not be over 2 to 3 feet tall (unlike
obtrusive deer fencing). But rabbits readily dig
under fencing unless it's extended below the
surface ... as much as 12 inches!
rabbits must be instilled with the fear of physical
harm, which almost always naturally occurs with
predators. Indeed, it is only the fear of death
that effectively breaks their behavior, whether
it’s in a yard or in the woods. To turn rabbits away
from the foods they want, they must sense an
assault upon their security. This is best done by
taking advantage of their sense of
smell for locating food and survival. Their nose
will lead them to return over and over again to
areas where food is tasty, abundant and safe to
forage. Disrupt their sense of security and you’ve
achieved the primary factor for turning rabbits away
from your valuable plants, gardens, shrubs and
Scram is your best rabbit repellent,
despite its name,
because it attacks a rabbit’s sense of safety in
much the same way deer are affected by Deer Scram.
Blended from selected organic components, Deer
Scram will keep rabbits off your plantings because,
through their sense of smell, Deer Scram
convinces rabbits that harm is nearby. Deer Scram
will change rabbit behavior. As they near the
applied barrier of Deer Scram, rabbits actually alert
to a sense of danger – even death! Deer Scram's
unique scent of death
reaches the rabbits and triggers a genetic biological defense
mechanism to flee from predators.
The association of the fear of death
with Deer Scram will lead to a profound learning
experience for the rabbits and, with proper
re-application of Deer Scram, the rabbits will not
return to the area.
And where trenching and burying your rabbit
fencing isn't in your game plan, simply
sprinkle Deer Scram around the perimeter of the
fence in the usual 16-inch barrier strip. Deer
Scram will STOP the rabbits from digging under the
Deer Scram is an all-natural, biodegradable deer
and rabbit repellent that guarantees pesky
rabbits -- as well as white-tailed,
black-tailed and mule deer -- will stop feeding on
your prized gardens, shrubs and trees for 45 to 60
days with a single application. Deer Scram
is a fully organic granular deer- and rabbit-control product
that contains no harmful chemicals or toxins that
could hurt the animals, environment and, most
importantly, you or your family.
Guard your trees
shrubs 24 hours
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