The Rabbit Wars: Urine, You’re Out

The petunias in all their glory being surveyed by a wascally wabbit.

The petunias in all their glory being surveyed by a wascally wabbit.

The petunias can barely contain themselves in the flower box behind the house. Each one is a small poem written in pink, coral, or purple. And like all good poetry, the petunias both teach and delight.


My other yard poems are the geraniums. They have taught me two lessons. First, hummingbirds like them. Second, rabbits generally don’t. Part of the delight of geraniums comes from those same reasons.


Petunias, on the other hand, have taught me that rabbits see things differently than I do. To me, my white box of colorful petunias is a feast for the eyes; to the rabbits in the neighborhood, it’s a feast.


If he were a jackrabbit, this would be jack in the box.

If he were a jackrabbit, this would be jack in the box.

I like rabbits, and I enjoy watching them, but I don’t like them enough to let them eat my petunias. We had a long hard winter and several rabbits survived by eating the bushes in the back. The rabbits processed a good foot of each bush into scat, but I never complained.


Encouraged by my leniency, they thought it would be okay to eat my petunias. First, I tried soaping down the box, hoping the smell would deter them. Instead they sat in the box, munching away, with their sanitized paws. Naturally that gave me pause, so I sprinkled pepper around the box, hoping they would hotfoot out of the box and take their paws elsewhere. When that didn’t work, I thought it would make good sense to bring out the big PP, which stands for predator pee (or PredatorPee, a real company), which, of course, makes good scents for plant protection. And the best good scents for rabbits are bad scents, long-toothed and hungry bad, as in fox urine.

One of the bunnies checks to see if I am watching the petunias.

One of the bunnies checks to see if I am watching the petunias.


My husband found a different product that uses putrescent egg products to encourage the bunnies to forage elsewhere. The repellent works well and keeps the rabbits from seeing my flower box as an all-you-can-eat salad bar. When it rains, the spray dissipates and the rabbits come back, so it requires repeated spraying, which makes good cents for the company.


Probably overcome by guilt and shame for eating my petunias.

Probably overcome by guilt and shame for eating my petunias.

The rabbits still visit the yard, and I have seen them among the hostas in the early morning. We have developed a wary truce. The petunias are there to feed my soul, not their bellies. I plan to stop stewing about the flowers as long as they stay away; otherwise, I might start stewing the rabbit

38 thoughts on “The Rabbit Wars: Urine, You’re Out

  1. I find myself suddenly over run with rabbits, rather unusual around here. Not far from where I live, there’s an island that is absolutely infested. They actually dig up under the houses and damage the foundation. Because of their warrens, people never know when they’re walking over hollow ground, about to collapse. I never really thought about, but somebody could make a good horror movie about an infestation of bunnies.

    • Obviously there are no natural predators on the island to keep the rabbit population in check.

      About the horror movies idea: Run for your lives or be nibbled to death. It does sound frightening. 🙂

  2. From someone who gardens on an upstairs balcony, that bunny is so adorable I’d want to buy petunias just for him. Squirrels, on the hand, are my enemy. Gardeners engaged in a turf war, squirrels think nothing of completely removing basil from my planters. They replace my plants with pecans, which sprout more successfully in the potting soil than anything I try.

    • Think of squirrels as climbing rabbits – both are adorable when they aren’t eating from your garden.

      Perhaps the squirrels plant the pecans as a long-term investment – food and shelter for the future.

  3. I have rabbits, groundhogs and deer. They eat anything. I use the rotten eggs thing and it’s good for about two days. That is it keeps me away for two days too. I keep testing what they will eat and what they won’t. Of course it changes every year. This year they are eating my zinnias which they didn’t used to do and someone went into the pond to eat the water lilies! There is good news. For the first time in 10 years I have peaches. Groundhogs and squirrels climb fruit trees. Groundhogs eat the fruit and squirrels go for the seed. My peaches are delicious! Of course out of about 300, I got 20 but I’m not complaining!

  4. We have gophers moles and deer. The turf has been divided between them apparently, as the deer eat the hostas in the front yard and the gophers and moles shared the feast of the tulips. At least your bunnies are cute and don’t leave holes and mounds of dirt.

    • So far, we have not noticed any holes and dirt mounds, but where there are bunnies, there are holes and underground tunnels. They seem to favor the neighbor’s yard in the back.

    • He was actually sitting right by the window bathing. I was able to get very close without him being aware I was there. I don’t think they have particularly good eyesight, in spite of eating so many carrots.

  5. A.PROMPTreply

    Gosh….shades of Fatal Attraction in here…boiling bunnies…. but seriously, your post is lovely and your shots of the rabbits are amazing….that last one is just perfect and perfectly captioned as well!

  6. Aha, I have a problem with a groundhog/woodchuck feeding on my tomatoes, or at least gnawing at them until they are no more than half-eaten and then leaving them right out in the open, as if to taunt me. At first he was sneaky and would not get into the garden itself to do his dastardly deed. But then as the season progressed he belligerently strolled right up, and into, the lush confines of the garden of the Big Boy and stand-up as tall as a small kangaroo and from that vantage point he could spot the biggest and the best tomatoes. But, thanks to the miracle of science I have stumbled upon a solution (and it actually was liquid at one time) USED CAT LITTER, yep cat litter. I sprinkled it around the perimeter of the garden and it kept the critter away for almost two weeks.. Until a heavy rain brought about the return of the brown beast, looking somewhat emaciated, obviously from the lack of vitamins A,B and C that are commonly found in the tomato. I have recently encouraged our feline to pee in the box rather than outside, where it apparently has no value as a deterrent to varmints. With that being said, why not get yourself a cat? And I just happen to have one, which could become available, at a very reasonable price. As we say here in New England “she’s(a)wicked pissah!”

    Oh yeah, loved your post as usual..

    • My grandchild has been asking me to buy a cat and even set up a sleeping box for it. My husband is not on board yet, however.

      I have read of cat litter as deterrent, as well as human urine. I haven’t reached that point yet, but it would provide a steady flow of deterrent.

      • Yeah, but the critter I’m dealing with is a wily sort, now he has discovered that by going up on the ramp to the back deck(behind the tomatoes where the kitty litter can’t be spread) he can reach in and grab one. We have placed a ladder up against the railing to make it more difficult, but I fear he is too smart for us. Now he just looks at us and ambles away, whereas he used to skidaddle (sp) in quick time. As far as human urine goes, you if anyone, should know that there is no “P” in tomato..

  7. The wish-it-were-so penitent bunny cracks me up! I’m unable to tolerate the heat here enough to do serious battle with any of the garden marauding critters, so they mostly win. Good thing they all provide various forms of entertainment in trade, or the whole lot of ’em would be doomed. 😉

  8. Margie

    I’m so sorry to hear your petunias are in grave danger. Hopefully you have found the right discouragement.
    My daughter has rabbit problems too. She hasn’t found a way to keep them from eating up her garden. But she has started giving them names that make me think she has settled on a new plan of action. She calls them Stew 1, Stew 2, Stew 3…

    • I like the names your daughter calls the rabbits. : )

      The putrid egg smell has done a good job of keeping the rabbits at bay. We are now having pretty cool weather, so sadly winter will do what the rabbits couldn’t.

  9. We have a rabbit in the yard, but our biggest culprits are squirrels…little red hyper squirrels, black squirrels, and great big fat reddish/brown squirrels. They love every kind of tomatoes and will taste-test each and every one and alspito every squash we grow. I’m beginning to think we have to resort to The Man’s often-eaten childhood dish…squirrel roasted over a fire pit. I think I’ll have to go get my Red Ryder out of storage. 😉

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