Rabbit Feeding or Deer Feeding?

Whitetail deer and cottontail rabbits may be cute, but they can cause a lot of damage to plants, landscaping, and your wallet! Deer and rabbits are both feeding during all 4 seasons of the year. Not sure who’s been feasting in your backyard? Before pointing fingers, here are some tips for determining if the culprit of your eaten plants is a rabbit or deer!

This is what rabbit feeding looks like:

Rabbits cut the stems of the plants they eat at a sharp angel. Rabbits usually eat most of or all of the leaves. Look for pea-sized round scat around the eaten plants for further proof of hungry rabbits! Rabbits can only reach as high as they can stand (plus the height of any snow), so if the damage is higher than 3 feet, it was caused by another animal. Rabbits often feed on gardens because they are low to the ground. They like to eat peas, beans, beets, and other garden plants, often pruning them all the way down to the level of the ground. Their favorite plants to feast on include mountain ash, basswood, red maple, sugar maple, fruit trees, red and white oak, willow, sumac, rose and dogwood. 

This is what deer feeding looks like:

Deer don’t have upper teeth like rabbits, so they rip and tear on plants. This causes a flat and ragged cut on stems. Deer are messy eaters, ripping at foliage and leaving some behind without finishing. If you find piles of deer scat (oval-shaped) near your eaten plants, this is another clue to who ate them. Deer can browse as high as 6 feet. Their favorite plants to feast on include tulips, rhododendrons, hosta, yews, arborvitae, holly, false cypress, daylilies, and roses.

Ways to keep deer from eating your plants: 

  • Remove items such as bird feeders and fruit that has fallen off of trees. If you don’t want to get rid of your bird feeder completely, just raise it so that it’s at least 5 feet off the ground. 
  • Drape deer netting over plants or trees and secure it to the ground with stakes. Remember to use a flagging material so that deer can see the netting and avoid getting tangled in it. 
  • Fence off areas where deer enter your yard, they will not jump over a fence they can’t see through. You can also make the fence taller than they can jump, which is 8 feet. 
  • Plant things deer do not like to eat including anything fuzzy, with hairy leaves or thorns, or leathery foliage. These include yucca, button bush, bloodtwig dogwood, virginia sweetspire, and daphniphyllum. 
  • They also dislike fragrant plants like lavender, which you can plant around plants and flowers you want to protect instead of putting up a permanent fence. 
  • Use All-Natural Deer Control from ohDEER. This solution repels deer away from plants sprayed with it, deterring them from feeding in your yard without causing them any harm. 

Ways to keep rabbits from eating your plants: 

  • Build a fence to protect vulnerable plants that is higher than rabbits can get over and does not have holes. 
  • Protect individual shrubs and trees with mesh or a tree guard. 
  • Motion-activated sprinklers or lights will scare off rabbits 
  • Use All-Natural Deer and Rabbit Control from ohDEER!


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