What Smells Do Rabbits Hate & How To Use Them!

Rabbits are cute little critters, but not when they eat and nip at the garden you’ve worked so hard on. These little buggers can wreak havoc on entire crops in one night, leaving nothing left for you, your family, or anyone you intend to sell to.  

If you notice evidence of rabbits decimating your flowerbed, garden, or small farming operation, there are several non-lethal means you can try. By accosting their refined sense of smell, there is a likelihood they’ll stay away from your foliage and look somewhere else.  

How Good Is A Rabbit’s Sense Of Smell?  

Rabbits have an excellent sense of smell that’s 20 times better than humans. It’s so accurate; they can smell food deep underground. From birth, rabbits have a heightened sense of smell due in part to the way they smell – nose blinking. They shift their noses up and down to identify a scent, aided by the split in their top lip.

The intricate design of their olfactory system allows them to smell food and danger many miles away. They have 100 million scent cells with a nasal membrane sensitive to chemicals, dust, and perfumes. In fact, they can develop upper respiratory problems because of them.  

What Smells Do Rabbits Hate?  

Since rabbits have such a sensitive sense of smell, there are many offensive odors that may help to deter and keep them away.  

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Rabbits Away?  

Yes, some people use coffee grounds throughout their gardens with great success. Many attest to its ability to stop rabbits from using your garden as a personal litter box or pantry. But, some people mention how this doesn’t work at all. You’ll have to test it out and see.   

How to Use It  

Spread dried or moist, yet used, coffee grounds around the plants you want the rabbits to avoid. Take care in using moist grounds to avoid creating an additional bug problem for your plants.  

Does Vinegar Keep Rabbits Away?  

Vinegar is an effective method for ridding rabbits from your yard and garden. This is because of the phenol carbolic acid contained in vinegar; rabbits can’t stand the smell of it. This is a great option if you have a variety of pests ravishing your garden. But, it is toxic to rabbits, and it can hurt them.  

How to Use It  

Soak a couple of used corn cobs, paper towels, or cotton balls in some vinegar and place them around the plants you want the rabbits to stay away from. If using corn cobs, periodically re-soak them in vinegar because the smell will fade over time.  

Do Red Pepper Flakes Keep Rabbits Away?  

Yes, red pepper flakes will keep rabbits away from your flowers and produce. You can also use chili powder or cayenne pepper for similar effects. Anything spicy will be abhorrent to a rabbit’s delicate nose.  

How to Use It  

You can make spray oil by heating up 1/3 cup oil with ½ cup chili flakes to around 300°F. Remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Strain out the oil, put it in a spray bottle, and top it off with warm water.   

Screw on the lid, shake well, and spray onto your plants. Also, take the strained pepper flakes and sprinkle them around your plants. Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and other creatures will eventually avoid it. They may take a bite, but they will experience the heat and won’t like it.  

There’s a caveat to this one, though. You have to apply it on a regular basis because the effects will wear off over time. Also, some people report that rabbits will develop a taste for it and eat the plants regardless. But it is worth a try.  

Does Citrus Keep Rabbits Away?  

No, citrus does not keep rabbits away. They like to eat almost any fruit.  Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits fit the bill, albeit a little acidic. Citrus is effective against other pests like transient cats, bugs, and slugs but not rabbits, deer, or squirrels.  

Does Peppermint Keep Rabbits Away? 

Using peppermint to keep rabbits away depends on whether you want to use essential oil or the plant. Rabbits don’t like the smell of peppermint, but they will eat the plant, especially if the peppermint isn’t very strong. It may be better to use something else from the same family that has more pungency, like lavender.  

How to Use It  

If you want to try peppermint to rid rabbits from your garden, douse a few cotton balls with peppermint essential oil. Make sure the oil is pure and pungent. Place the cotton balls all around the plants you want to protect from rabbits.  

Does Blood Meal And Bone Meal Keep Rabbits Away? 

Yes, blood meal and bone meal can keep rabbits away from your flowers and food plants. They find the odor horrid. It’s completely safe around children and household pets too. You can often find it at your local gardening center or store.  

Bone meal comprises processed bones made into a fine powder. Bone meal makes a great fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 3.5-17-0. This means it has some nitrogen and a whole lot of phosphorus, which is great depending on what you’re growing. 

Dried waste product from slaughterhouses is what makes up blood meal. It’s high in nitrogen.  This makes it not only effective as a rabbit repellent but also a plant fertilizer. It has an NPK ratio of 12-0-0, meaning there are large amounts of nitrogen without phosphorus or potassium. 

How to Use It 

Dust the soil around the plants you wish to deter rabbits from and, over that, layer some black pepper for added effect. You can use both blood and bone meal if it will be beneficial to your plants. Reapply this every evening, right before rabbits eat, usually at dusk.  

It may take a little while to convince the rabbits to look elsewhere for their dinner. But, after they’re gone, repeat this regimen about once a month to prevent any new rabbits from invading your garden. 

Does Garlic Keep Rabbits Away? 

Yes, garlic is very effective at keeping rabbits away. The smell is atrocious to them, and they will avoid it. But garlic is toxic to rabbits and can make them very sick, so they won’t often eat it. Although, some owners do feed it to their pet rabbits without issue. Yet other gardeners report that rabbits get used to the taste or smell and eat your plants anyway. 

How to Use It 

You have a number of options for using garlic as a rabbit repellant. You could mix some garlic, powdered or fresh, with the chili oil recipe mentioned above. You could plant some bulbs around the garden too.  

Additionally, people attest to crushing fresh garlic cloves and placing them over the desired perimeter. Any way you want to do it will be sufficient. Make sure the smell will be strong enough to repel rabbits. 

Does Predator Urine Keep Rabbits Away? 

Yes, urine from natural predators to rabbits will keep them away. Animals like coyotes, foxes, or even your house cat or dog will be effective deterrents.  Of everything mentioned previously, this is one of the more promising rabbit repellents. But, people do report mixed results. Some rabbits may get accustomed to the smell, thereby eating your garden anyway and to their heart’s content.  

How to Use It 

If you have a cat or a dog and it’s feasible, allow them to urinate around the perimeter of your garden. Or, if your house pet piddles on the floor, sop some of it up with a paper towel (with gloves on). Allow it to dry a little and tear pieces off, placing them in various areas around the desired area. 

You can purchase predator urine, like bears, coyotes, and foxes, from sporting goods, home improvement, or gardening stores. Sprinkle several drops around the vicinity of your garden or around the plants from which you wish to deter the rabbits.  

The problem with predator urine is that it may attract more of that animal. So, you may see increased fox or coyote activity because of the smell, which may create additional problems. Also, you’ll have to reapply this every three to four weeks to keep the smell ripe and fresh. 

Other Tips to Keep Rabbits Away  

When using any of the recommended methods above, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Rabbit olfactory deterrents are not always reliable. Even if you combine several methods, it’s still not guaranteed to work 100%. Rabbits, if hungry enough, will disregard any offenses to their sense of smell and eat your plants, flowers, veggies and fruits anyway. 
  • You will have to create an application schedule for any olfactory offensive measure and this may become tedious.  It will be important to keep the smell ripe and fresh to the rabbits. 
  • Depending on your repellent, you may have to rinse the area off every day so as not to harm plants or other animals; or to deter predators from your property. 
  • If your chosen repellent is often removed or rinsed away, you may have to build or configure some sort of shelter to reduce the need to reapply the stinky deterrents. 
  • You have to monitor each method with a close eye to see if it’s actually working against rabbit invasions. The moment you notice it’s become ineffectual, try something else. Rabbits can quickly adapt to many olfactory offenses and you have to keep up. 
  • Some methods listed above, like vinegar and garlic, are toxic to rabbits. Even though considered non-lethal methods, these things have the potential to hurt them with great severity. So, use your best judgment and come up with a plan before attempting it.  

When All Else Fails 

If you’ve tried every method you can, and the rabbits are still invading your plants, consuming them without mercy, you are going to have to be more proactive.  

Preliminary Considerations 

First, you want to determine what species of rabbit you have in your garden. Knowing the specific type they are, their eating habits, what their natural predators are, and other similar details will be the first step in deterring them from your plants. In other words, think like a rabbit. 

Then, you have to decide how humane you want to be in your approach to deter them. Some people are fine setting traps because they enjoy a good rabbit stew. But, inform yourself before doing this because it might not be the best idea.   

Rabbits serve a delicate purpose in the natural order of things. If you kill an adult, you may be leaving behind a whole litter of bunnies that will be without a mother. Trapping them may create more problems than it solves. 

  • Physical Barriers – using things like chicken wire or mesh around your garden or each plant is very reliable. They’ll keep rabbits away without hurting them or your plants. 
  • Scare Tactics – in addition to smell, rabbits run at the onset of loud sounds. You could get creative and resourceful with this. But, you want to make sure you don’t drive neighbors or house pets crazy. 
  • Food Scraps ; Meals – if it’s possible and you know from where they emerge, place some food scraps or their favorite food. Things that are ready to eat and immediately available, like carrots, cabbage, lettuce and the like, will be far more desirable and quicker for rabbits.  
  • Fake Snakes – many people report how a few real-looking fake snakes deter rabbits from gardens and landscapes. Their strategic placement can be surprisingly effective at deterting them. 


Using an olfactory offense plan could be very effective against rabbits, but it’s not foolproof. Using a fence or fake snakes might be better options. It’s going to depend on how bad the infestation is. Sometimes, it may only take an offensive smell to do it; other times, you may have to resort to stronger methods.  


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