Rabbits certainly are cute, aren’t they? They have long, fuzzy ears, puffy cottony tails, and pink noses that constantly wiggle up and down. But when they decimate a garden or eat your flowers, all you want to do is run them off, but how can you repel rabbits
Rabbits use their sense of smell to help keep them safe from predators, and when you use strong scents like vinegar, they won’t want to stay around these places. Stay tuned as we go over how vinegar can be used to repel rabbits!
How Does Vinegar Repel Rabbits?
Vinegar has a very strong, pungent, and sharp odor. If you have ever used it for cooking, cleaning, or other uses you instantly know the smell. Many people avoid it because of the sharp smell.
White distilled vinegar is a solution of water and acetic acid which is high on the pH scale.
Animals usually have a stronger sense of smell than humans, so when they smell vinegar, the odors are exponentially increased. Can you imagine smelling white vinegar if it was 100 times stronger? I’m sure it would be like getting a punch from your favorite boxer!
1. Vinegar’s Strong Odors Repel Rabbits By Irritating Them
In the wild, rabbits use their vigorous sense of smell to sniff out food and detect predators.
A rabbit’s sense of smell is at least 20 times better than ours, and they can even smell food buried underground.
Vinegar has a pervasive, and overpowering odor that can block out all other scents. Not only will vinegar smell so strong it probably hurts, but rabbits won’t be able to smell danger. This will make them want to avoid that intense smell and get away quickly.
But get this, although this article focuses on vinegar there are so many other strong odors like chili powder and predator scents that will keep rabbits away! Head on over to our article for a full list of other scents that will keep rabbits away for good!
2. Rabbits’ Respiratory Systems Are Sensitive To Vinegar
High and strong levels of vinegar vapors are even more irritating to rabbits than the vinegar is to us!
I can remember my mother cleaning her coffee pot with vinegar by running it through a brewing cycle. The entire house would smell like concentrated vinegar and it would send everyone fleeing the premises. I’d spend the day at a friend’s house to keep from the vinegar fumes!
If I stuck around too long while the vinegar was being “brewed” my throat, nose, and eyes would burn and start to feel irritated.
Rabbits have more sensitive respiratory systems than us. When rabbits breathe strong odors, or their nose or chest gets irritated they get uncomfortable and will learn to stay away from what causes the discomfort.
3. Vinegar Is Very Acidic To Rabbits
Straight vinegar is very acidic, so it’s always diluted with water. The white distilled vinegar you get from the store is usually about 4% or 5% vinegar, and the rest is water.
When used as a rabbit repellent, if for some reason they power through the scent, if the vinegar gets on them, it can cause irritation, especially in sensitive areas. So again, rabbits don’t want to be around vinegar, its pungent smell, or it’s irritating qualities.
4. Vinegar Is Also Very Sour To Rabbits!
Acids tend to be sour-tasting. Have you ever eaten salt and vinegar potato chips? That sour tang that lights up your tongue is the acetic acid of vinegar.
Think about citrus, especially lemons. They have a lot of citric acid in them, which is what makes you pucker up when you taste lemon.
If rabbits were to munch on something that had vinegar on it, they wouldn’t eat it. The sour taste would stop them immediately. Most rabbits do not like sour foods, so sour-tasting vinegar is yet another repellent.
How To Use Vinegar To Repel Rabbits
To repel rabbits with vinegar, we are going to focus on using the scent of white vinegar. Yes, the other properties can be irritating as well, but since their sense of smell is so strong, and they use that sense so much, it’s the best way to repel rabbits.
How do you use vinegar’s overpowering smell to make rabbits scurry away?
You can soak items in vinegar, use small containers, or make a vinegar spray that works to repel rabbits.
Fresh out of vinegar, or getting low? Stock up with Lucy’s Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar. You’ll get two 1-gallon bottles for all your rabbit-repelling needs. And once you’ve run all the bunnies off your property, use it to clean your kitchen, bathroom, or in your laundry as a natural, non-chemical means of fabric softening.
1. Soak Cotton Balls Or Other Items In Vinegar
You don’t have to do anything difficult to start repelling rabbits with vinegar. All you need is some vinegar and cotton balls.
What you’re going to do is soak several cotton balls in vinegar, then drop these olfactory warfare balls wherever you notice rabbit damage.
If you want to keep them out of your garden, drop a soaked cotton ball every foot or two apart all around the perimeter of your garden.
You can even drop a few into the garden just for extra measure.
Not only will the vinegar-soaked cotton balls keep the nibbling rabbits away, but they will repel many detrimental insects as well.
Make Sure To Replace The Cotton Balls Every So Often!
The only extra work you need to do is to replace the cotton balls on occasion. Since vinegar is so cheap, you can do this pretty often without breaking the bank.
Recharge, or replace your cotton balls once every three or four days, or after rain showers.
Use jumbo cotton balls for extra vinegar-repelling power, Cliganic Organic Super Jumbo Cotton Balls are bigger, so they hold more vinegar and last longer.
Cotton is biodegradable and won’t harm the environment so don’t worry about cotton balls hanging out in your garden for hundreds of years.
Don’t Have Cotton Balls? Use Strips Of Cloth!
If you have some old clothes you never wear anymore, or you have been contemplating throwing certain garments away, why not put them to use?
Cotton garments will do better for soaking vinegar than synthetics.
Natural fibers hold more moisture compared to synthetics like polyester, Spandex, rayon, or nylon. So, look for something that has a higher cotton percentage so it will hold more vinegar and won’t have to be re-soaked every day.
You Can Also Use Corn Cobs
One more all-natural alternative—if you don’t have cotton balls or are fresh out of garments ready to be shredded—is old corn cobs.
That’s right, save the corn cobs after the barbecue and soak them in some vinegar. Leave them soaking for a few hours and put them out where you don’t want rabbits hanging around.
This solution lasts the longest compared to cotton balls or vinegar-soaked rags. The corn cobs are reusable, and will only need to be soaked again about once every two weeks.
When you’re done with them, simply throw them into your compost pile. There they will decompose and become plant food. The vinegar in them won’t harm the compost either, because vinegar breaks down rather quickly.
2. Leave Out Some Vinegar Containers
Another way to repel rabbits is to use small containers filled with vinegar. You can use old yogurt containers, sour cream containers, or anything similar with a lid. Just pour some vinegar into the containers and pop some small holes in the lids.
The pungent vinegar smell will still permeate the air and run off those garden-destroying rabbits. When the smell starts to fade, just add more vinegar. This way you don’t have to worry about vinegar damaging your plants.
Vinegar can damage most plants because of the acidity and it dehydrates them, so you don’t want it getting on or into your plants.
This method repels the rabbits while keeping the vinegar away from your flowers and vegetables.
3. Make A Vinegar Spray
All you need to do here is get an empty spray bottle, fill it about halfway full of vinegar, and then top it off with tap water. Now go around and spray wherever you want rabbits to avoid.
Be careful about spraying plants you don’t want to be damaged. Vinegar has a bad habit of desiccating plants. When vinegar hits plant cells, it breaks them down and dries them out. If enough vinegar is sprayed on the plant, it will dry the whole thing out.
Spraying the solution around the border of your garden or on any fencing around your garden, or as a border around sheds, garages, and your house will work wonders!
Identifying Rabbit Damage: Where Should I Spray Vinegar To Repel Rabbits?
Even if you don’t have a flower or veggie garden, rabbits can make a mess of your yard and the surrounding plant life, even trees.
Rabbits will dig holes, create burrows, damage trees, and eat plants down to the ground. So, these are the areas you should focus on to use your vinegar rabbit repellent!
1. Rabbits Are Excellent Diggers
If you see rabbits on your property, chances are they have a burrow nearby, or they have found a woody brush pile to hide in. Rabbits don’t travel far from their safe places because everything is out to eat them.
Rabbits instinctively dig, and many rabbits can leave large divots, bare patches, and holes all throughout your yard. Even if they don’t dig out extensive burrow systems, they can dig into the ground in search of food, or because they are bored.
Fences won’t keep rabbits out either unless they are buried deep into the ground. Most rabbits won’t jump a fence, as they prefer to dig underneath it. Most fences are set at or just above ground level, which provides no protection from rabbits.
If you’re noticing a lot of rabbit holes around your property – have no fear! We have a whole article dedicated to how to stop rabbits from digging holes. Head on over to our article for a full play-by-play on the things you can do to keep them away.
2. Rabbits Cause Damage To Your Trees
Small trees or shrubs may have their smaller branches eaten clean off. This damage looks like angled, sharp cuts as rabbits’ teeth are sharp.
On trees, you could see bark stripped away, and the inner layers, down to the hard woody interior exposed. The rabbits are eating the soft cambium layers that bring trees all the water and nutrients they get from their roots.
When winters are particularly cold and harsh, rabbits have been known to girdle trees. Meaning they eat the soft bark layer completely around the tree, which ends up being fatal for the tree.
So, you can then go ahead and spray vinegar around your trees where rabbits are frequenting!
Why Do Rabbits Cause problems In The First Place?
Due to the livelihood of rabbits, they can cause a lot of problems in your yard.
Two main reasons why rabbits cause problems are because they are active all year round, and they reproduce in large quantities – making it harder to get rid of them!
If you’re looking for more ideas to get rid of them, head on over to our article to learn about some natural ways to get rid of rabbits! From scents to planting vegetables they hate and more – we have so many great solutions!
Rabbits Are Active Year Round
Cottontail rabbits are active all year long and do not hibernate. Rabbits usually come out around dust and dawn, while staying hidden during most of the day.
During the spring and summer months, food is plentiful for rabbits and they will eat clover, grasses, and alfalfa, but in the winter months, when food is scarce, rabbits will turn to woody shrubs and tender tree bark.
Rabbits Are Prolific
When you notice rabbit damage or you see them scampering about in your yard, you should start pushing them away immediately. Rabbits are known for their breeding prowess, and it’s no myth that they can procreate very quickly.
According to the Adirondack Ecological Center, female rabbits (does) will average three to four broods per year, with an average of five babies in each brood. By doing some quick math we can see that one female can create an average of 20 more rabbits each year.
By the following spring, these 20—assuming they survive the winter—will reach sexual maturity and start breeding as well. Unchecked, rabbits can create massive populations in a very short time.
Luckily, there is hope if you’re seeing rabbits and want to get rid of them because by using something as simple as vinegar – you can deter them from your outdoor space.
However, before trying to use vinegar, we always recommend contacting a local professional if you are not comfortable with doing this method yourself.
Final Thoughts On Repelling Rabbits With Vinegar
Vinegar’s biting, the tart odor is great at repelling garden pests like rabbits. Since their sense of smell is so strong and important, they don’t want to be anywhere near the overwhelming smell of vinegar.
Use vinegar-soaked items like cotton balls to put out scent bombs that will keep rabbits away, or spray areas you don’t want them. Either way, it’s an inexpensive, all-natural, chemical-free solution to repelling rabbits.
If using scents aren’t for you but you still want to try to get rid of rabbits, maybe try using sound! Head on over to our article about sounds that rabbits hate, to learn more.
Morimoto, Masashi. “General physiology of rabbits.” Rabbit Biotechnology. Springer, Dordrecht, 2009. 27-35. https://www.publish.csiro.au/CW/CWR9600116
Johnson-Delaney, Cathy A., and Susan E. Orosz. “Rabbit respiratory system: clinical anatomy, physiology and disease.” Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice 14.2 (2011): 257-266. https://www.vetexotic.theclinics.com/article/S1094-9194(11)00003-X/fulltext
Rödel, Heiko Georg. “Aspects of social behaviour and reproduction in the wild rabbit–Implications for rabbit breeding?.” World Rabbit Science 30.1 (2022): 47-59. http://ojs.upv.es/index.php/wrs/article/view/15954
Gullo, Maria, Elena Verzelloni, and Matteo Canonico. “Aerobic submerged fermentation by acetic acid bacteria for vinegar production: Process and biotechnological aspects.” Process Biochemistry 49.10 (2014): 1571-1579. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1359511314003882
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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