Do you grow tomatoes in your garden or backyard? If yes, do you sometimes find tomato plants missing fruits, buds, and leaves?
While growing your tomatoes has a host of benefits, some uninvited guests also don’t mind munching on them. Yes, we are talking of rabbits here. You must be now wondering if rabbits really eat tomato plants? The answer is a firm YES. Rabbits do eat tomato plants and can wreak havoc on your vegetable garden if left unchecked.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Tomatoes?
Rabbits are inherently herbivores feeding on different plants. This long-eared animal has a ferocious appetite for all kinds of woody plants, vegetables, and berries.
According to veterinary experts, tomatoes can offer many essential nutrients, vitamins, and health benefits to rabbits. Tomatoes contain almost 95% of water which helps them stay hydrated.
No wonders why your ripe tomato plants are so appealing to them.
What Damage Can the Rabbit Do?
Rabbits are expert eaters, without any doubt. They eat off chunks of leaves without leaving behind jagged edges. They also eat pretty fast and can chew off a large batch of your tomato plants within few days.
Don’t expect any vegetable and fruit plants to be spared in your garden.
What’s worrying is that they reproduce rapidly and reach up to three liters of six baby rabbits each year.
How To Detect The Presence of Rabbits In Your Backyard?
It can be difficult for you to figure out if your tomato plants are being damaged if and unless you are keeping a close look every day.
First up, look for signs such as dug-up soil in your backyard. Try to figure out if some of the tomato leaves are missing in whole.
Your next aim is to determine which animal is causing the damage. This is because other animals such as squirrels, deers, and raccoons also don’t shy away from having a feast.
The sure-shot way to figure out is by taking pictures. You will need to deploy a night vision motion-sensing camera in your backyard or garden to do so.
Once you have figured out that rabbits are the culprits, your job now is to protect your garden against them.
How to Keep Rabbits Out of the Garden and Protect Your Tomato Plants?
Rabbits usually feed during the late hours of the day. They also tend to stay near their burrows and not travel too far. Use the below methods to repel rabbits from your garden.
Try to make your garden off-limits for rabbits using hardware cloth fencing or a chicken wire mesh to cover up your plants. Be aware that rabbits are expert diggers and may crawl or dig under the fence. To prevent this, ensure that the fencing is at least 10-12 inches deep inside the ground. You may also use electric fencing, which lightly shocks the animal without injuring it.
You can use commercial as well as homemade repellents. Some options include hot pepper spray, garlic, dried blood meal, and a rotten egg mixture.
Any potent, foul-smelling, and tasting substance should do the job as long as you can wash it up using a garden hose later. One particular thing to look out for is to ensure that the substance does not make your tomato harvest totally inedible.
You can scare rabbits away by mimicking natural predators in the form of plastic snakes or owls. However, after a certain period, rabbits are likely to realize that these don’t pose any threat. They will simply ignore them.
Grow Rabbit Repelling Plants
Rabbits tend to stay away from plants that have prickly leaves or ones producing a strong fragrance. These include Lavender, Spearmint, and Corsican Mint. Try interplanting these with your tomato plants. Be careful to choose plants that are non-allergic to your pets or young children.
Make Your Garden Less Appealing to Rabbits
This involves brushing away piles of branches, twigs, and leaves and filling up existing burrows. Without a favorable habitat, rabbits are not likely to stay longer.
First of all, ensure that there are no legal implications to capturing rabbits. You can contact your local wildlife authority to do so.
While choosing traps, make sure that the trap can capture the animal without fatally injuring it. This way, you can release the captured rabbits back into the wild. You can use juicy and sugary bait such as an apple or a carrot to lure the rabbit into the trap.
Understandably, you have put in a lot of time, effort, and money in growing your tomato plants. Your instinct is to protect them. But you need to be aware that rabbits are also driven by their natural instinct, feeding up using any food resources available.
By deploying these humane methods of keeping rabbits away from your garden, you will likely have a bountiful harvest.