Believe or not, spring is here at last. Snow is melting... The sun is shining... You actually want to go outside for once... Rabbits are pooping all over your yard… Flowers are blooming… Wait. Yes, one of the most telltale (or...tellhare?) signs of spring is that rabbits make their presence known… rather forcefully.
When you stop to consider it, it’s kind of strange. Why are so many rabbits hopping around your yard now? Why do they seem so keyed up? Where were they before? Depending on where you live you probably see rabbits constantly, but how much do you know about them? Do you know why they’re around your home this spring? Here are a couple things you should know about rabbits this spring. Understanding rabbits will help you get in the spring mood--and protect your garden at the same time!
Do Rabbits Hibernate?
No! In fact, there are no rabbit species that hibernate during winter months. Instead, they remain active--and eating--all winter long. That doesn’t mean rabbits are unaffected by the cold, however. Winter is just as hard on rabbits for several reasons. First, it decimates their food supply. Vegetation rabbits feed on, like grass, buds, and weeds, are far less plentiful in winter. It’s all buried under snow! Rabbits have to get a lot less picky about what they eat in winter. That could be a problem for you.
Food scarcity isn’t the only problem rabbits contend with this winter, either. They also have to worry about the cold and predators. Rabbit’s fur isn’t thick enough to fully insulate them during particularly cold days. If it’s too cold, rabbits have to seek shelter from wind and cold, often around manmade structures. Lack of foliage cover in winter makes rabbits far more vulnerable to predation, as well. Rabbits have nowhere to hide during the winter.
How Do Rabbits Survive in Winter?
For rabbits, surviving winter is a constant struggle to eat enough, stay warm, and avoid predators. Deprived of their favored food sources, rabbits start eating plant life they’d leave alone most of the year. They’ll eat woody plants like twigs, bark, evergreen bushes, and even pine needles. During long winters, rabbits could inflict a lot of damage to house bushes and shrubs. They may also consume their own waste as a means of recycling nutrients.
Rabbits frequently spend winter days hunkered down in whatever hiding places they can find. They want to hide near food sources, preferably in areas where they can easily stay warm. These three prerequisites often lead them to seek cover near people’s homes. They’ll huddle close to homes or sheds, usually obscured in branches or bushes. In some cases, they may even enter garages or window wells to stay warm. Rabbits typically do most of their food foraging at night.
What Do Rabbits Do in Spring?
Spring is, rather infamously, rabbit mating season. This means a couple (get it) of different things. First, male rabbits are going to be far more active and present than usual. They’ll spend days roaming and looking for prospective mates. When they find mates, rabbits engage in various courtship rituals. These rituals can be so intense that they prompted the popular myth that rabbits “go crazy” in spring. Male rabbits are polygamous, which means they’ll try to mate with as many females as possible during the season.
After mating, female rabbits build shallow, bowl-like nests called “forms” out of leaves, grass, and fur. They may also excavate burrows in loose soil and mud. Both male and female rabbits eat quite a lot during spring, as well--they have to! During mating season, rabbits eat large quantities of grass, clover, flowers, weeds, and buds. Though their feeding isn’t usually harmful, it can interfere with natural spring growth.
How Will Rabbits Affect You This Spring?
Rabbits aren’t dangerous, but they can be surprisingly destructive… particularly if you have a garden. Rabbits have a voracious appetite in spring, and budding plants are particularly vulnerable. If rabbits can enter your flower or vegetable garden, they’ll use it as a particularly attractive food source. They’ll also munch on budding leaves and new growing grass almost all day if you let them. Rabbits will dig up shallow root systems or bite away budding plants and flowers while eating.
As you’ve no doubt noticed, the more rabbits eat, the more waste they produce. This waste isn’t dangerous, either, but it is dirty, unsightly, and just plain gross. Rabbit waste isn’t as noticeable in the spring as it is in winter, but there is more of it. If you have a lot of rabbit waste in your yard, it may be because a female rabbit built her nest nearby. When rabbits nest on your property, they tend to attract other rabbits. Especially during mating season.
Rabbits are as much a part of spring as flowers and rain showers. When you see them scampering around your yard, you’ll know that spring is finally springing. There’s definitely something comforting about that… but it doesn’t mean you have to like everything that comes with it.
If you’re having trouble with a rabbit around your home, give Varment Guard a call any time. Our experts can safely and humanely remove rabbits from your property and help make sure they don’t come back. Let us take care of the annoying stuff so you can enjoy the parts of spring you love.