Q: Something is chewing on my big fig bush! All of the damage is within eighteen inches of the ground. There is nothing up higher. With this much damage will the fig be harmed?
A: The key to your description is “All of the damage is within eighteen inches of the ground.”
That means it was a rabbit that did the dirty deed. If a squirrel had been by, the damage would be higher in the fig.
It’s hard to say how much the fig will suffer. If the bark is removed completely around the limb, it will die. But I see several places where the bark is only partially damaged. These limbs will likely be all right.
Look for small piles of 1/2″ diameter brown pellets near the damaged fig to confirm my diagnosis.
You could try repelling the rabbit with a deer repellent that contains putrescent egg solids or a capsaicin product like Hot Pepper Wax.
Some gardeners swear by Milorganite as a rabbit repellent.