Pestgon FactSheet
“ If they fly they die…if they crawl they fall”

RABBIT (Auduboni)


Description:
The common rabbit, encountered by Pestgon, in southern California, is the Desert Cottontail rabbit. (Sometimes known as the Western Cottontail) The color of the adult desert cottontail rabbit varies from dark tan to gray, with a yellowish tinge. Many have an orangish-brown throat patch. The underside of the body is whitish. Though the tail is black above, it is rounded in an obvious tuft of fur that looks like a cotton ball. So, the cottontail rabbit comes by its unique name naturally. The length of a desert cottontail is approximately 16 inches; it has big dark eyes set in a pale eye patch. Its ears are large and can be up to 4 inches long. Cottontails are easily recognized as their tails flash white when they make short hops. They seldom weigh more than three pounds and females are larger than the males. Most domestic (pet) "rabbits" are hares.

Biology:
In the commercial landscape environment, cottontail rabbits inhabit the brushy or woody edges the property. They are almost exclusively vegetarian, feeding on a wide variety of plants such as ornamental shrubs, grasses and tree bark They generally get their water from the plants they eat. They are very prolific so their numbers can add up fast. Cottontails are most active during the early morning and evening hours.

Economic Impact:
Pestgon has observed that cottontail rabbits are extremely destructive to many ornamentals and herbaceous plants and turf grasses. Uncontrolled, their numbers can become very costly by devastating entire landscapes that contain certain herbaceous plants. They are especially destructive to manicured lawns and turf grasses. For obvious reasons, Pestgon recommends that they never be allowed to develop to the point of an infestation on a commercial project.

Management Methods:
As with any pest problem, Pestgon always considers the first line of defense to be prevention. An exclusion fence at least two feet high, at the perimeter of commercial projects, where there is the natural brush, is one effective method of rabbit prevention. Also, the use landscape plantings less susceptible to their damage is another consideration. The use of live traps can be effective but is a labor-intensive method of control and eradication because traps have to be checked daily, and animals removed. It is certainly not an effective method when rabbit populations are high. Use of repellent has shown limited success, however, devices that use ultrasonic methods have proven to be totally ineffective.

Additional Links:
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7447.html