Bunny boom: Garden expert Ciscoe’s secret recipe repels pesky rabbits

Jul 31, 2019, 2:08 PM
rabbits, Ciscoe, gardening...
Garden expert Ciscoe Morris sprays his 'Oh, la, la" mixture on kale in his vegetable garden. (Aaron Granillo, KIRO Radio)
(Aaron Granillo, KIRO Radio)

You’ve probably noticed the rise in rabbits this summer. They’ve been seen hopping in and out of bushes, scampering through parks, and scurrying along sidewalks throughout Western Washington. Wildlife experts aren’t certain what’s caused the supposed “bunny boom,” but one thing is clear: they’ve been wreaking havoc on gardens, munching away at hard-earned harvests.

Garden guru Ciscoe Morris said he’s tired of those pesky rabbits and shared his secret to getting rid of them.

Morris has a complicated relationship with rabbits. He loved his childhood bunny, Snowball, but nowadays when he sees their fluffy faces and big ears, Ciscoe goes mad.

“These little guys will eat practically anything you’ve got in your garden,” Morris said. “They ate my broccoli, they’ve eaten my Brussels sprouts and that’s a serious infraction!”

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The culprits are the eastern cottontail rabbits, the most common mammals in North America. They were first introduced in Washington as a game species in the 1930s.

Morris put up fences to keep them away. He let the dogs loose on them, but the rabbits are relentless. A couple years ago, he tried something different, a new kind of “bunny-be-gone” spray.

“I had to try and find the perfect secret recipe that is really going to repel these rabbits without causing any big problems,” Morris said. “It’s the oh, la, la recipe.”

The recipe calls for only three ingredients. First, one tablespoon of baking powder goes in a bowl with an egg yolk. Then, add a quart of water and whisk until the mixture becomes a pale yellow. Pour it in a spray bottle, and let it set for a few days before it really starts to smell, almost like sulfur.

“That’s the one bummer in this. It has to smell kind of bad,” Morris said.

Ciscoe Morris’ legacy transcends the garden

Rabbits, after all, avoid certain scents.

“I’ve spoken with individuals who use predator urine as a cue for danger to keep the rabbits at bay,” said Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor of wildlife sciences at the University of Washington.

Wirsing couldn’t say for sure why the number of cottontail rabbits appears to be on the rise this year. He had some theories, including the region’s recent mild winters, a trend that started around 2015.

“Any change in environmental conditions that even slightly bumps up offspring survival can lead to a population explosion,” Wirsing said. “It might also be that gardening and landscaping and the suburbanization of a lot of the surrounding regions to Seattle are basically creating extra ‘habitat.’”

Morris’ backyard must a be a bunny’s paradise. A fountain overlooks the lush lawn, dozens of rare plants, and a buffet of vegetables.

Ciscoe Morris responds to sudden fame from HBO segment

On a recent afternoon, Morris armed himself with the “oh, la la” mixture determined to keep the rabbits away. He plunged his spray bottle before layering a coat on the garden, covering each veggie with his special recipe.

“Just by spraying there’s nothing that you can’t eat in this,” Morris said. “Not harmful at all.”

Ciscoe said it’s important to spray daily. That’s the only way to keep up with the rabbits and their reputation for breeding.

“Every female bunny can have up to 28 young in one season — Oh, la, la, la, la,” Morris said. “You can be doing this a lot to say the least.”

Find more tips and information for co-existing with rabbits at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.



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Bunny boom: Garden expert Ciscoe’s secret recipe repels pesky rabbits