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Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) cause damage to young trees and lower trunks of established trees by feeding on bark. Bark removal results in tree decline; when bark is completely removed around trunks, trees are girdled and die. Teeth marks from rabbit gnawing are evident on wood.

Eastern cottontail rabbit.
Eastern cottontail rabbit.

(Photo: Caleb Simmons, NEON, Bugwood.org)

     

Rabbit feeding on peach trunks is similar to the damage shown here on an apple tree.
Rabbit feeding on peach trunks is similar to the
damage shown here on an apple tree.

(Photo: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service)

    

Management:

  • Protect young trees with grow tubes.
  • Apply taste-deterrents, such as capsaicinbased products or Thiram, to discourage chewing around trunks.
  • Protect older trees with hardware cloth trunk guards.
  • Remove brushy piles and long grass around orchard to decrease suitable rabbit habitat. 

       

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