Wild rabbits consume a wide variety of foods, such as weeds, grasses, wildflowers, and vegetable plants. They do not consume any foods made by animals, including dairy, eggs, or meat. A wild rabbit will frequently graze on readily accessible, non-toxic vegetation.
People sometimes ask what wild rabbits eat because they usually offer pet bunnies hay or rabbit mix from the shop. Naturally, wild rabbits are not provided with such items, so you may be wondering what they eat when they are unable to rely on humans for their food.
Wild Rabbits Habits And Biology
The ground-dwelling animals known as rabbits, bunnies, or bunny rabbits are widespread across the world. The European rabbit is the most prevalent wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). The European rabbit is the ancestor of all domestic breeds of rabbits (cottontail).
In America notably, the majority of wild rabbits have brown bodies and white tails. Agouti is the color of a rabbit’s coat. That is, there are many colors in each hair strand. The rabbits can hide from predators and blend into their surroundings because to this adaptability.
The wild rabbit has an unusual field of vision due to the placement of its eyes on its head. With a 360-degree vision, they can quickly identify approaching predators coming from any angle.
Cooler-climate bunny bunnies have longer ears than their warmer-climate counterparts. They don’t lose heat because of their large ears. For individuals who reside in cooler climates, the reverse is true.
When evading predators, their ears also help them to stay balanced and move with ease. Additionally, rabbits’ large ears aid in their ability to recognize and avoid potential predators.
Herbivorous wild rabbits eat mostly on grass and other green foods. Because they are nocturnal, they spend the most of their time active in the late afternoon and occasionally at night.
Wild rabbits in captivity typically snooze for four to eight hours. You may not be aware, but rabbits snooze with their eyes open. This enables them to respond to any unexpected movements and potential threat.
Wild rabbits like cottontails build their nests above ground, in contrast to other rabbit species that live in burrows (holes) beneath. They build their nests out of various materials, including scraps of fur they remove off their coats. They finish up their nests with grasses and leaves as well.
Wild rabbits are territorial by nature and have solitary lives. Even yet, they may only stay put for a short while.
Natural Wild Rabbit Diets
Herbivores are what rabbits are most commonly. In other words, they don’t consume any animal products or meat; only vegetables. In truth, a lengthy investigation of European rabbits revealed that wild rabbits hardly ever, if ever, ingest or even attempt to consume flesh from other animal parts.
Wild rabbits seldom ever eat meat, but when they do, it’s usually their own young. Therefore, it is acceptable to believe that wild rabbits do not require meat. They just eat plants and survive on them. However, this is a fairly general response and might be more specific.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat Compared With Pet Rabbits?
Wild rabbits are herbivores, meaning they mostly eat plants for food. They frequently adhere to rigid eating routines when it comes to their stomachs. They often eat first thing in the morning, then again in the early evening.
Wild rabbits eat a variety of foods according to the seasons of the year in the wild. They continue to eat just plants at this time.
Rabbits are specially designed to overcome the difficulty of digesting the majority of the nutrients they eat in the wild. The difficult-to-digest plant material is broken down in the presence of bacteria during a process known as hindgut fermentation, which aids in the digestion of meals.
They also pass two distinct sorts of droppings. Hard droppings are the first type, while soft droppings are the second. After excretion, the nocturnal droppings are instantly consumed again.
Wild rabbits get enough nutrition from their night droppings, unlike cows and other herbivores that chew cud to stop nutrient loss.
Wild rabbits are particularly choosy eaters, despite the fact that they consume a variety of flora as food. They prefer dry plants over fresh foliage (which includes both leaves and plants as a whole). It is known that many wild rabbits may climb trees to acquire new leaves and plants. They like to eat sensitive plants.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Spring?
Rabbits have a wide variety of foods to pick from in the spring when the plants begin to develop. They will chow down on the early plants’ leaves, and once the grass begins to emerge, they will begin to consume it in large amounts.
Since grass makes up a sizable portion of their diet, they have access to the necessary roughage. They will also gather leaves from plants as they develop and munch on the young, fragile leaves of bushes as they sprout.
What Kinds of Plants Eat Wild Rabbits?
Wild rabbits eat green plants wherever they can find them. Things like clover, leafy weeds, grasses, bushes, and leaves are included in this. However, it will change based on the rabbits’ access to food and the season.
Grass serves as roughage for wild rabbits and is beneficial to their gastrointestinal systems. Wild rabbits, however, are incredibly choosy eaters. They enjoy new vegetation above all else, and they have even been reported as climbing trees to get at the new leaves up top.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Summer?
Once more, rabbits prefer the green leaves of the many diverse plants that are available. This could change as the summer goes on, but as long as the plant is not poisonous, it will probably be available for consumption for rabbits.
Again, grass continues to be a significant part of the rabbit’s diet. This is the major food they consume because it is so readily accessible in the summer. Don’t be shocked if you come across large groups of rabbits munching on grassy fields all day long in the summer.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat in the Winter?
In the winter, it is obvious that fresh, green vegetation is not accessible. In the winter, what do wild rabbits eat? This mostly depends on the place in question. Rabbits tend to keep to dry, dead plants and whatever other greenery they may locate in regions with little snowfall.
Actually, there are green plants flourishing almost year-round in several areas of the southern United States. Even if these aren’t their favorite plants, rabbits in these environments will continue to graze on the few green plants they can locate. Where I reside, this is accurate. Because there are typically still a few green plants present, rabbits can be spotted grazing in fields all year long.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Fall?
Food may start to become more limited in the fall, but there should still be enough of plants available for them to consume. The rabbit will continue to eat grass in addition to everything else it consumes, including everything that is about to go into season.
Once more, you might be shocked at how much grass a rabbit can consume in a single day. Due to the low nutritional value of grass, they do need to consume a much of it. A wild rabbit frequently needs to consume roughly 300 calories in a single day in order to receive adequate calories and nutrients.
A rabbit may need to consume approximately a kilogram of grass every day because 100 grams of grass only contain about 33 calories.
Even while it is improbable that it will consume a complete kilogram of food, you may get an estimate of how many calories wild rabbits require from other plants and greenery.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat When There Are No Greens?
Wild rabbits often do not consume meals depending on their taste preferences since it is essential for survival. Instead, the majority of what they eat is what is readily available. This does not imply, however, that some meals are preferred by wild rabbits over others. It has been discovered that specific plant species are preferred by wild rabbits.
As was previously said, rabbits actually don’t like carrots so much. They would much rather eat the leaves and bark of apple, peach, and cherry trees. Additionally, they like fir and spruce trees over oaks. Rabbits like the greenest, most recent foliage in addition to these specific diets. Therefore, one may argue that is a wild rabbit’s preferred meal.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat As Pets?
The nutrition of a wild rabbit maintained as a pet and one that lives in the wild are similar. When you keep rabbits as pets, you may give them the majority of the foods they eat in the wild.
Despite this, wild rabbits reared as pets are content to eat the same meals as domestic rabbits. Although they may be maintained as pets, it’s best to return them to the wild as soon as you can.
This is done to prevent them from becoming used to a domesticated lifestyle. In captivity, their life span is often lower. They could pass away from stress brought on by too much handling or by being separated from their own species. It is essential to determine whether a wild rabbit is an orphan before providing for them.
Nevertheless, among the meals wild rabbits in captivity consume are:
Hay is among the greatest foods to give wild rabbits, including clover, meadow, Timothy, and orchard hay. At least 80% of their diets have to consist of hay.
Flowers are wonderful complements to the diet of rabbits, including sunflowers, daisies, yarrow, clovers, and dandelions.
Vegetables, such as kale, cabbage, collard greens, carrot tops, and dandelion leaves, should be offered to the rabbits. These are only a few foods that are crucial for a bunny’s diet.
Fruits including strawberries, raspberries, apples, blueberries, and apple tops offer vital nutrients for their growth. They should not, however, be fed frequently.
Compared to grass hays, alfalfa hay (Lucerne) is higher in proteins and minerals. It is advantageous for young rabbits. Young rabbits that are underweight or recuperating from an illness might benefit from it.
On the other hand, it is not advised to feed it to adults as their main supply of hay. This is due to its high calcium concentration, which might result in bladder stones (solid growths from proteins and minerals).
Why Are Wild Rabbits So Picky?
Wild rabbits will start with the area of the plant that has the most nitrogen. They choose items that are quick and simple to eat. The typical wild rabbit may seek for another food source if a leaf is extremely hard and will take longer than a second to shred.
5 Things I Recommend Feeding Wild Rabbits
Sunflower Seed: Sunflower seed can keep them warm and they like it, as long as you’re willing to watch out that it doesn’t become damp or moldy.
Kale is an extremely resilient green that is also quite cheap to feed. Before purchasing any of this, I advise leaving out a small amount of the raw kale you normally consume to test whether they would accept it.
Baby carrots are another vegetable that you should use up first before purchasing any. They will definitely consume them, although it could take a few evenings. Just keep in mind that carrots should only be given seldom because of their high sugar content. All fruits have this trait!
Start by mixing a few rabbit pellets in with some other food to see if they will choose them. This is getting more expensive, but you may be doing a lot to support them with a healthy diet.
Apples: Cut them up as best you can. Another dish that may be fed for comparatively little money is this one. It’s preferable to keep them in a container in your refrigerator, if you have the space. similar to how baby carrots are. Due to the high sugar content in these, which is bad for their digestion, feed them as a treat.
Tips To Feeding Wild Rabbits
You might be tempted to begin feeding a wild rabbit that you see in your yard. It’s not a good idea to feed wild animals, but understanding how and what to feed a wild rabbit might be useful. I hope not, at least for the bunny.
The following advice should be taken into account while feeding wild rabbits:
Decide where you want the food to go in your yard. The wild bunnies can have a place to eat that you can provide. Consider erecting a small shrub pile next to the perimeter of your garden or yard because these rabbits prefer the bushy margins of certain locations.
Leave a portion of your lawn uncut if rabbits like to munch weeds and grasses in the warmer months. In turn, this approach promotes the growth of weeds and grass, creating an environment where wild rabbits may find food.
Create a small collection of these materials in a certain area of your yard because rabbits tend to consume more bark and twigs during the winter months.
For the rabbits in the wild, provide hay and grass. As was already noted, the wild rabbit’s diet mostly consists of grass and hay. In addition to the grass that is already present on your yard, you may buy hay to feed the animals.
If you want to feed wild rabbits in your yard, stay away from applying pesticides since they could make them sick.
For your wild rabbits, scatter pelleted rabbit chow. Rabbits benefit greatly from pellets as a source of nourishment, particularly those containing seeds.
Given their nutritious density, the pellets should be offered to the wild rabbits sparingly.
You may get pelleted rabbit food at your neighborhood pet store.
Feed fruits and vegetables to the wild rabbits. Per meal, give them at least three different kinds of greens, one of which should be strong in vitamin A. Vegetables like the following can be offered to the wild rabbits in your garden:
Vitamin A is abundant in collard greens and beet greens.
- Only the leaves and stems of broccoli are nutritious for wild rabbits.
- Carrots should only be consumed in moderation as they contain a lot of difficult-to-digest carbohydrates.
- broccoli sprouts
By taking these few actions, you might be able to assist these wild rabbits in surviving difficult situations. However, it is not advised that you keep wild rabbits as pets.