Do rabbits eat tomato plants? Yes, rabbits can and will eat tomato plants if they can get to them. Like many other garden vegetables, tomato plants are an attractive target due to the leaves and fruit they provide. Rabbits have strong incisors meant for gnawing, making it possible for them to easily bite through the stems of small tomato plants. Fortunately, there are several preventive methods that can help protect your tomato plants from rabbit damage, such as fencing or even sprinkling pepper powder around the base of the plant.
Hey there, fellow garden enthusiasts! Have you ever found yourself pondering the age-old question: do rabbits eat tomato plants? As a gardener who loves growing tomatoes in my garden, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with these adorable yet pesky little creatures. So, let’s embark on a journey to discover the truth about rabbits and our precious tomato plants.
Together, we’ll unravel the mystery, explore rabbit diets, and uncover effective ways to protect our beloved tomatoes from these hopping herbivores. Are you ready to hop into action? Let’s get started!
Do Rabbits Eat Tomato Plants?
Yes, rabbits have been known to eat tomato plants if they are easily accessible. This can be especially true of young tomato plants, as they may not be in an ideal location to protect themselves from hungry bunnies. Rabbits can also cause a lot of damage by snacking on the leaves and stems of the plant, damaging the overall health and growth of the tomatoes. It is important to take precautions when attempting to grow tomatoes in spaces that could potentially become rabbit food!
What do rabbits eat in the wild?
Rabbits are herbivores, which means they primarily eat plants. In the wild, their diet consists of various types of vegetation such as grasses, clovers, and other leafy plants. They also munch on twigs, buds, and bark from trees or shrubs when their preferred food is scarce. While some plants can be toxic to rabbits, they usually have a good sense of what is safe for them to eat.
Rabbits are opportunistic eaters and may be attracted to various plants in your garden. Some of their favorites include:
- Carrots and carrot tops
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and rabbits might nibble on other plants as well.
How to know if rabbits are eating your plants
There are several signs that indicate rabbits have been feasting on your garden plants:
- Clean, angled cuts on the plant stem or leaves
- Small, round droppings near the affected plants
- Rabbit tracks or burrows in the vicinity
If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to take action to protect your garden from these furry creatures.
What part of the tomato plants do rabbits like to eat?
The leaves and stems
Tomato plants, part of the nightshade family, contain a compound called solanine, which can be toxic in large concentration to rabbits and other animals. However, this doesn’t mean that rabbits won’t eat the stems and leaves of the tomato plant. I find that rabbits will eat the young tomato plants the most as their stems and leaves are the most tender.
Interestingly, the tomato fruit itself is not toxic to rabbits. The solanine concentration in the fruit is significantly lower than in the leaves and stems. The first sets of fruits on a tomato plant should be protected as these are the closest to the ground and are the easiest to reach. Once you get past the first trussets of tomatoes you should be fine as they will be harder for rabbits to reach (deer on the other hand are at the perfect height).
How to Protect Your Tomato Plants from Rabbits
One of the most effective ways to protect your tomato plants from rabbits is by installing a fence around your garden. There are various fencing options to choose from, depending on your preferences and budget.
Traditional fencings, such as chicken wire or hardware cloth, can be an excellent way to keep rabbits out of your garden. To be effective, the fence should be at least 2-3 feet high and buried 6-12 inches into the ground to prevent rabbits from digging underneath. Keep in mind that you will need a gate or some other form of access to tend to your plants.
Electric fencing can be an effective deterrent for rabbits, as they will receive a mild shock when they try to cross the fence. However, this option may not be suitable for gardens frequented by children or other animals, as they could accidentally come into contact with the electrified wires. Additionally, electric fencing requires a power source which can make this a less than ideal choice for gardens that aren’t near a plug. However, you can get a solar powered kit for an electric fence.
Repellent fencing involves treating a regular fence with a rabbit-repellent substance. You can purchase commercial repellents or make your own using ingredients like garlic, hot pepper, or essential oils. Keep in mind that repellent fencing requires regular reapplication, especially after rainfall, to maintain its effectiveness.
There are various homemade repellents that can be effective in deterring rabbits from your garden. Some popular ingredients include:
- Hot pepper
- Essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint
- Egg-based mixtures
To make a homemade repellent, combine your chosen ingredients with water and spray the mixture onto your plants or around the perimeter of your garden. Remember to reapply the repellent regularly, especially after rain.
If you prefer a store-bought solution, there are plenty of commercial rabbit repellents available. These products typically come in spray or granular form and can be applied directly to your plants or the surrounding soil. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and reapplication.
Companion planting involves strategically growing plants that either deter rabbits or attract them away from your tomato plants.
Plants that deter rabbits
Some plants are known to repel rabbits due to their strong smell or taste. By planting these species near your tomatoes, you can create a natural barrier to help protect your garden. Some examples of rabbit-repellent plants include:
Plants that attract rabbits (to divert them from tomatoes)
Alternatively, you can plant species that rabbits find particularly appetizing away from your tomato plants. This tactic can help lure rabbits to a designated area, diverting their attention from your tomatoes. Some plants that are known to attract rabbits include:
- Carrot tops
Tips for Keeping Rabbits Away from Your Garden
Removing hiding spots and shelter
Rabbits are more likely to frequent your garden if they have access to hiding spots and shelter. By removing brush piles, tall grass, and other potential hiding places, you can make your garden less appealing to rabbits.
Using live traps and relocation
If you have a persistent rabbit problem, you may want to consider using live traps to capture the culprits. Once trapped, you can relocate the rabbits to a more suitable location,
away from your garden. Be sure to check your local laws and regulations regarding rabbit trapping and relocation, as some areas may have specific guidelines or restrictions.
Adopting natural predators (e.g., cats or dogs)
Introducing natural predators, such as cats or dogs, to your property can help deter rabbits from venturing into your garden. Dogs, in particular, can be excellent rabbit deterrents, as their presence and barking can scare off intruders. If you decide to adopt a dog or cat for this purpose, ensure that they are well-cared for and properly trained to avoid causing harm to the rabbits or other wildlife.
Motion activated sprinkler
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of building a fence around your garden or getting a dog (we all know that dogs can cause havoc in the garden too) you can use a motion-activated sprinkler to scare off rabbits and squirrels.
The way it works is you hook the motion-activated sprinkler up near your garden and when an animal gets close, the sprinkler goes off and sprays sharp streams of water at them. This works great for rabbits, squirrels, dogs, cats, and even deer.
While rabbits may occasionally nibble on tomato plants, they are unlikely to cause significant damage due to the toxic nature of the plant’s leaves and stems. However, taking preventative measures to protect your tomato plants is still essential, as rabbits can wreak havoc on other garden plants.
By implementing strategies such as fencing, repellents, and companion planting, you can create a garden environment that is less appealing to rabbits while still nurturing your beloved tomato plants. Keep in mind that finding the most effective solution may require some trial and error, as rabbit behavior can vary.
Remember, a healthy and thriving garden is a labor of love, and with patience and persistence, you can successfully deter rabbits from munching on your precious tomato plants. Happy gardening!