St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a warm-climate turf grass that is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Although St. Augustine grass is coarser than some other kinds of turf grass, it is still tender enough to be palatable to rabbits. It is not toxic to rabbits and can be nibbled safely by pets and wild visitors looking for dinner.
Rabbits eat almost any plant growing, including lawn grass varieties such as St. Augustine grass, flowers, vegetables and even woody shrubs and tree bark. They avoid sharp-tasting plants when a plant that tastes better is available, but hungry rabbits will eat even unpleasant-tasting plants. Even pet rabbits can graze holes in lawns or damage ornamental plants. If a pet rabbit will be outdoors, it is best to plant non-toxic plants such as St. Augustine grass because the rabbit will graze when given the opportunity.
Long and Lush
The best mowing height for standard St. Augustine grass is between 3 ½ and 4 inches tall, which is 1 inch higher than for most turf grasses. The additional height can offer more grass for rabbits to eat and may attract the animals to the lawn, especially if few other palatable plants are available. A rabbit can eat up to 1 pound of vegetation daily. So long grass can be a very attractive way for a rabbit to find enough to eat.
Because animals besides rabbits graze on St. Augustine grass, chewed patches should be checked to determine what caused the damage. Rabbits crop grass height by 1 or 2 inches. They have sharp teeth that leave clean cuts in grass blades, shrubs and flowers. If the bitten ends of grass are crushed, then the culprit is likely a deer or other grazing animal. Also, rabbits leave four-toed footprints, with their back feet leaving longer footprints than their front feet. Rabbits also leave small, round feces droppings.
A fence is the best way to keep wild rabbits out of a yard or to keep pet rabbits in a yard. Wire mesh fencing with 1-inch-diameter holes works well; bury the fencing's bottom 6 inches in the ground to keep rabbits from digging into or out of a yard. The fence does not have to be very tall. Most rabbits cannot jump more than 2 feet high; jackrabbits; however, jump up to 3 feet high when fleeing a predator such as a dog. Rabbits may gnaw on the wire, trying to get through. So inspect the fence for damage regularly.
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Living with Wildlife -- Rabbits
- University of California Integrated Pest Management Online: Rabbits Management Guidelines
- University of Hawaii-Manoa Cooperative Extension Service: St. Augustine Grass
- House Rabbit Society: Poisonous Plants for Rabbits
- OnlinePlantGuide.com: Stenotaphrum Secundatum, St. Augustine Grass
- University of Illinois Extension: Lawn Talk -- Guidelines for Mowing Lawns Properly
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