Pigs like to root around with their snouts: they till your soil and remove pesky weeds whose root systems are impossible to get rid of. Chickens like to scratch and eat bugs: they get rid of undesirable creatures, like maggots in manure. Goats like to eat everything in sight, even things other animals won’t touch: they clear an area of overgrown weeds and underbrush. Rabbits like to eat grass, and they don’t pull it up at the roots: they are excellent lawn mowers.
It’s quick and cheap to make a simple rabbit mower. It’ll take you about an hour to put together and then you just move it around your lawn whenever it needs to be cut. But something to consider is that it’s not just humans who think that rabbits are delicious – make sure that the area to be mowed is safe from predators, or that you are nearby so that predators won’t risk grabbing a quick snack.
4 ft x 10 ft piece of welded wire mesh (2”x2” is fine if babies will not be present, otherwise 1”x2”)
(J Clips – optional)
2x 6” pieces of hose
2 1/2 ft x 5 1/2 ft piece of tarp
Nest box (15” tall trash can)
(Rabbit feeder – optional)
(J Clip pliers)
Stapler and staples
If you plan to have a pregnant doe (female rabbit) in the cage, a nest box is essential. However, even if the doe isn’t pregnant, it’s still not a bad idea, as it gives your rabbit a place to hide. A really simple and cheap nest box that we use is a 15” tall, tapered trash can laid on its side with some straw in it. We attach a small piece of 1” x 2” lumber across opening of the can at the bottom, so that small babies cannot wander out. We also drill some holes on the bottom at the back, so that any liquid can drain out.
Now you are ready to put your rabbit inside. When handling a rabbit, pick it up by the scruff of the neck under the ears. Do not hold a rabbit by their ears alone, as they are very sensitive.
You can place more than one rabbit in the cage. Rabbits are a social animal and appreciate company. However, if a pregnant doe is nearing her time to deliver (the gestation period is between 28 to 34 days), leave her on her own. They prefer a quiet, calm space to have their young, and if a doe becomes distressed close to the delivery time she can kill or abandon her babies.
Also, if you have a doe that is not pregnant and that you do not wish to breed, do not place a buck (male rabbit) in the cage with her. The expression “breed like rabbits” is no idle saying. The main factor that makes them so successful at reproducing is that they do not have any one specific time when they are fertile. Whereas most animals ovulate at a particular point in a cycle, does can become pregnant whenever they encounter a buck. It is the stimulation that makes the eggs descend, and provided there is sperm present, they will be fertilized.
Always provide your rabbit with fresh, clean water. The simplest way to do this is with a commercial waterer or water nipples.
As for food, rabbits prefer the fresh grass, alfalfa, weeds, grains that we provide, so the lawn will be all they need during the day. You can then provide them with concentrate food in a feeder or certain kitchen scraps when you put them up at night, provided they are not overweight. Please note that there are some weeds and greens that are poisonous to rabbits, so it is always best to consult full lists of what rabbits can eat. It is also a good idea to ease a rabbit into any food that he/she is not used to eating.
For rabbits that have always lived in a cage and eaten only concentrate food, there will be a learning curve with the tractor. They will have to get used to eating grass, and it is a good idea to feed first-timers small amounts for several days before you put them on the lawn, to make sure they don’t get a stomach upset.
Place your mower, with rabbit inside, at one end of your lawn. Once they have eaten the grass down to the height you wish, move the cage along. The time it takes to mow the grass will vary, depending on how many rabbits you have inside the mower and how tall your grass is. You also don’t need to worry about the rabbit’s droppings: they make an excellent fertilizer and, unlike other manures, they are not “hot” and so will not burn your plants. Gently spread it around and water it in after moving the mower.
It’ll take a little while for both you and your rabbits to get used to this system, but it’s worth it. Your rabbits will love it and your lawn will look great, with very little effort on your part.