Wildlife

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat? Feasting In The Forest

Have you ever seen a fluffy bunny hopping through a field and wondered, “What do wild rabbits eat out there?” Most of us are familiar with pet rabbits and their dietary needs, but the diet of wild rabbits may not be as well understood.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what wild rabbits eat, explore the foods they forage for in their natural habitats, and learn the importance of a diverse and balanced diet for their survival.

Grass and Hay: The Breakfast of Champions (for Rabbits)

Just like your morning toast, grass, and hay are a must-have for wild rabbits. They graze on different types of grasses, such as clover and timothy grass found in meadows and fields.

These leafy greens are packed with fiber, which keeps their digestive system working around the clock.

Plus, all that munching helps wear down their ever-growing teeth, preventing dental problems – no dentist bills for these herbivores!

Herbs and Weeds: Nature’s Bounty for Rabbits

Wild rabbits consume a variety of herbs and weeds found in their environment. They also love to nibble on a variety of herbs and weeds they find growing around them like:

  • Dandelions
  • Broadleaf Plantain
  • Chickweed
  • Clover 

These plants aren’t just tasty treats, they can also be good for rabbits’ health. Dandelion leaves, for example, are loaded with vitamins A and C, which help keep their immune system strong.

Vegetables and Fruits in their Natural Habitat

carrots lined up on a wooden table
Image by Milan Bauer from Pixabay

While grasses and herbs form the bulk of a wild rabbit’s diet, they may also consume small amounts of vegetables and fruits when available. In the wild, rabbits may nibble on vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, and kale, as well as fruits like berries, apples, and pears. 

However, it’s important to note that fruits and vegetables probably make up a small portion of a wild rabbit’s diet, as they are higher in sugar and can cause digestive upset if too much is eaten.

Bark and Twigs: Nature’s Toothbrush

Don’t be surprised if you see a wild rabbit gnawing on a twig or branch. Woody materials are a great source of fiber and help keep their ever-growing teeth at the perfect length.

Just like we brush our teeth, gnawing keeps theirs healthy and prevents them from getting overgrown and causing poor teeth alignment (malocclusion).

Seeds, Nuts, and Insects, Oh My!

Depending on where they live and what’s available, wild rabbits might also enjoy some bonus bites like seeds, nuts, or even the occasional insect.

But these are just like sprinkles on their salad – not a main course.

Flowers And Herbs For Health

Wild rabbits are resourceful foragers, expanding their diet beyond the typical grassy fare. Here’s a peek at some of the additional tasty treats they might enjoy:

Flowers

They aren’t just visually appealing; they can also provide additional vitamins and minerals. Look out for them nibbling on:

  • Roses
  • Daisies
  • Sunflowers
  • Marigolds
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Violets
  • Pansies
tan hare sitting in a garden of herbs what do wild rabbits eat
Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay

Herbs

The wild rabbit’s herb garden is vast.  Cilantro, parsley, and even fragrant herbs like mint and thyme might find their way onto their menu. These herbs can offer additional nutrients and may even have medicinal benefits. Here are some examples they might munch on:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Dill

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat ? A Well-Balanced Buffet

To sum it up -wild rabbits are resourceful foragers. They are adept at finding a delicious and nutritious variety of food in the wild.

From grassy fields to meadows bursting with herbs, they get everything they need to stay healthy and strong. By understanding what these furry friends eat, we can appreciate their role in keeping the wild balanced.

 

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat – FAQs

Are there any plants that wild rabbits avoid eating?

Yes, wild rabbits generally avoid toxic or poisonous plants that could harm them. Examples include Foxgloves, poppy, ivy, buttercups, bluebells, and nightshade. They have evolved to recognize and steer clear of potentially dangerous vegetation, relying on instinct to select safe food sources.

How do seasonal changes affect a wild rabbit’s diet?

Seasonal changes can affect the availability of food for wild rabbits. During warmer months, they may have access to a wider variety of plants, including fresh grasses and herbs. In colder months or during periods of drought, they may rely more heavily on dried vegetation or stored food reserves.

Is it ok to feed a wild rabbit?

While it might be tempting to leave out a tasty treat for those adorable wild bunnies hopping around your yard, it’s generally not recommended. Here’s why:

  • Wild rabbits have evolved to find the food they need in their natural habitat. Providing them with human food can disrupt their balanced diet and lead to health problems.
  • Regular handouts can make wild rabbits dependent on humans for food, making them less resourceful and more vulnerable to predators.
  • Leaving out food for rabbits can attract other animals, some of which might be dangerous to rabbits or your property.

Remember:  Always consult with a wildlife rehabilitation center or veterinarian before intentionally feeding wild rabbits. They can offer guidance on the best course of action depending on the specific situation.

If I see a wild rabbit, can I pet it?

While it may be tempting to try to capture or handle a wild rabbit, it’s best to resist the urge to do so. Wild rabbits are not domesticated animals and may become agitated or defensive if handled, potentially leading to injury for both the rabbit and the person attempting to handle it.

Additionally, handling wild animals can increase the risk of disease transmission and disrupt their natural behavior and survival instincts.

More Helpful Tips

Here are three things that people should or should not do if they come across a wild rabbit:

Do: Maintain a Safe Distance:

When encountering a wild rabbit, it’s important to maintain a safe distance and avoid approaching or attempting to touch the rabbit. Wild rabbits are naturally cautious animals and may perceive human interaction as a threat, causing them to become stressed or frightened.

Observing the rabbit from a distance allows it to feel safe and reduces the risk of causing unnecessary stress or harm.

Do: Provide Shelter and Protection:

If you encounter a wild rabbit that appears injured, distressed, or in need of assistance, you can provide shelter and protection without attempting to handle it directly. Create a quiet and secluded space near the rabbit where it can seek refuge from potential predators or environmental threats.

You can also provide food and water in the vicinity of the rabbit to help support its recovery and well-being. If you’re concerned about the rabbit’s health or safety, consider contacting a local wildlife rehabilitation center or animal control agency for further assistance.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure the safety and well-being of wild rabbits while also respecting their natural behavior and habitat.

Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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