Do Rabbits Eat Basil? (& 7 Ways to Keep Them Out of the Garden)

By: Chenell - Lead Writer and Gardening Advocate

I used to think the rabbits in my yard were cute. Until they ate my tomato starts down to the ground. Yep, after working for 2 months to grow and keep those seedlings alive, they ate them in one night.

I’ve learned quite a bit since that day, and I want to save you from having this happen to your basil plants.

Do Rabbits Eat Basil?

Yes, Rabbits do eat the basil plant, but usually tender seedlings vs a full-grown plant. And rabbits eat basil leaves of your precious plant, and they aren’t very picky when it comes to basil varieties. They’ll eat sweet basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, and most any basil seeding.

How to Tell if Rabbits Are Eating Your Plants

So how did I know it was a rabbit eating my basil?

The first clue might be if you see a bunch of baby bunnies around, they eat a lot and are going to be looking for a meal on the reg.

Second, they left some droppings behind to solidify the thought.

rabbit scat

Deer eat a lot of the same foods as rabbits, so it could be a deer munching on your plants. Since most rabbits prefer to eat in the early morning or around dusk, the only way to know for sure is to put up a trail cam and/or catch them in the act.

Or find some droppings left behind, which I did.

What Do Rabbits Generally Eat?

Rabbits are herbivores, so they eat a lot of greens and many plants. A rabbit’s diet usually consists of grasses, clover, and even hay. They’ll also eat a bunch of vegetables that grow in your garden, like tomatoes, lettuce, and kale.

A healthy diet for a bunny includes clover, straw, hay, and bermudagrass – which I have a TON of.

They have a sensitive digestive system, but they will eat many leafy greens throughout the day.

How Far Do Rabbits Travel for Food?

Rabbits don’t stray too far from their burrow. They usually stay within 200 yards of their main home, but when they are young they can migrate up to 2.5 miles.

rabbit burrow

How to Keep Rabbits Away from Your basil Plants

What can you do to prevent these adorable, yet annoying rabbits from eating your basil plants? Here are some ways that might work to keep them away.

1. Fencing

A fence is one of the best ways to keep rabbits away from your basil plants. They can’t jump very high, so if rabbits are the only animal eating your basil plants, then you only need a short fence to do the trick.

Be sure to make your garden or raised bed off-limits by placing chicken wire around it. Make sure the bottom of the fence is sunk into the ground to prevent digging. Rabbits can squeeze through very small openings and burrow under fences that are not sunk into the ground.

You can get chicken wire at your local garden center, or you may even have some laying around. Here is the fence I built after finding rabbits in my garden.

chicken wire fence

Placing wire fencing around your plants may help keep rabbits at bay, but you will need a way to secure the bottom of it so they can’t burrow under it. Another option is to use chicken wire with a lattice-style bottom to keep them out.

Things to Keep in mind:

  • Make sure the bottom of the fence is well-grounded and doesn’t have small spaces underneath that rabbits can dig below to get in
  • Cover the bottom foot or two with chicken wire or welded wire

Rabbits are smart and stubborn creatures, so they may try to find other ways around your fence. One of their favorite tricks is going through the pickets in fences made from wood.

2. Motion Activated Sprinkler

Rabbits do not like getting wet unexpectedly. A motion-activated sprinkler will be a great option for keeping rabbits, and also deer, squirrels, raccoons, and more out of your garden.

I tested it out and it works! Here is the motion-activated sprinkler in action in my garden:

This sprinkler is great and will do just what it sounds like it does – turn on when it senses motion. I also highly recommend getting a trail camera to catch this action on video because it’s quite hilarious.

Pro Tip: Make sure to turn this off if you are going into the garden. And if you forget to turn it off, please send me the video of you realizing it just a second too late 🙂 Sorry, but that’s some funny stuff.

The Garden Enforcer - Motion Activated Sprinkler

A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.

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3. Predator Scents

Rabbits won’t go near a spot that smells like a predator is nearby. Planting predator urine or their scent can be a great option. Blood is another

4. Red Pepper Spray

Rabbits also hate the smell of red pepper or garlic, so creating a spray that incorporates both is a great option. Deer also hate this scent, so you can kill two birds with one stone here.

Rabbits sniff a lot, so once they smell these scents they’ll be unlikely to stay around for long.

5. Rabbit Repellents

If you don’t want to use a commercial repellent or spray mixture of any kind, then there is still hope for keeping your garden rabbit-free. Here are some things that may work to keep rabbits off of your basil plants:

Use a spray that is safe for plants and place it around the outside perimeter of your garden to keep rabbits away.

This rabbit repellent contains garlic and red pepper, which will save you from having to create the spray yourself.

6. Decoy Garden

What do rabbits love to eat more than basil? Clover.

Clover provides a lot of the nutrition they need during the summer months, so it’s a staple for them.

So I left a patch of clover that was on the other side of the yard to give them something to munch on that wasn’t something I wanted to munch on.

This has worked quite well for me. I just don’t mow that patch of the lawn often, and I always see the rabbits over there instead of in my garden.

They’re going to be here anyway, might as well give them something to eat!

rabbit eating plants

7. Companion Planting

Companion planting is the practice of planting certain plants in close proximity to each other that will benefit from one another. Generally, this is thought of for keeping worms and pests away, but planting certain crops near your basil can help keep rabbits away from your basil.

There are a lot of pests you’ll need to watch out for when growing basil. Not only do you have to watch out for basil problems, but rabbits are thieves that you want to stay away from your vegetable garden as much as possible.



Hi - I'm Chenell! I lived in the city for almost a decade, but after moving to the suburbs in 2020, I decided the logical millennial thing to do was to learn how to grow my own avocado toast. That's what this site is all about. 🥑

You can get access to all of my free resources and get some epic dad jokes (and helpful gardening stuff) emailed to you each week by signing up here.

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