California Rabbits and Rabbit as Pests

There are eight species of rabbits in California; Common in southern California are the Desert Cottontail, the Jackrabbit (also known as the Black-tailed hare), and the Brush Rabbit. The Jackrabbit is as large as a cat, weighing 3 to 7 pounds, with a black-tipped tail and long ears. Because of its size and greater abundance, the Jackrabbit is the most destructive to landscapes and/or gardens.

Desert Cottontail Rabbit

California Desert Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus audubonii)
San Diego East County, CA

Identifying Rabbits in Your Yard

Desert cottontails and Brush rabbits are smaller than a Jackrabbit with shorter ears. The difference between the Desert cottontail and the Brush rabbit is in the tail; Brush rabbits are a species of cottontail but the underside of their tails are gray in color.


Black-tailed Hare (Jackrabbit) Lepus californicus, Joshua Tree
National Park, CA

While rabbits are a type of wildlife most people enjoy seeing outdoors, they can become pests when they cause damage to your yard. Signs of rabbit activity include: circular fecal droppings scattered over an area that look like pellets. Cottontail rabbit pellets are about ¼ inch in diameter, whereas a Jackrabbit´s is closer to a ½ inch in diameter. Gnaw marks on plastic irrigation lines are also evidence of rabbits; and of course, nibbled plants and vegetables.

Brush Rabbit / Western Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)

Brush Rabbit / Western Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)

Rabbits as Pests

From a pest control standpoint, there are a few things one can do to keep rabbits from invading the landscape or garden. Hearts Pest Management can provide a service to keep rabbits from entering your yard; however, it is a repellent with no guarantee. Here are some tips for keeping rabbits at bay:

Rabbit Fence

Drawing of a “rabbit fence” (Bury the turned up section 6-10 inches).

Place wire cylinders around trees and shrubs to keep rabbits away from the bark; fences such as a “rabbit fence” where the bottom is turned out to prevent rabbits from digging beneath (buried about 6 -10 inches deep) can prevent rabbits from coming into a garden. To keep rabbits from gnawing on plastic irrigation lines, either hang them out of reach or encase the irrigation lines inside ¾ inch PVC pipes. For information on what to plant around your home, please visit: