There are a lot of myths and questions about what rabbits can and cannot eat, everything from carrots to, even, bugs or a little steak. Anytime we bring home a new pet, there’s a lot of questions about what we should or really shouldn’t be feeding it. More concerning, sometimes they eat something and we’re not sure they should have. Thankfully, we’ve got the answer for you!
Do rabbits eat bugs? Sometimes, but it isn’t a good source of nutrition. Rabbits are known to opportunistically eat insects from time to time. If your rabbit has munched down a grasshopper or ladybug, don’t worry.
Why Would a Rabbit Be Eating Bugs?
Rabbits, in the wild, eat a variety of vegetation, and that’s all they need. They are especially suited for roaming around grasslands and eating an incredible amount of grass and flowers to meet their caloric needs each day.
Of course, herbivores are known to try an extra snack here and there, even if it is certainly on the more carnivorous side. While we don’t always know why an herbivore chooses to eat meat, of any kind, when they aren’t starving. It does happen, though, and scientists have caught and documented it numerous times with even the most docile of species, even deer.
There’s a lot of speculation on the subject, but for now, we don’t really know why it happens. Here are some examples of what might be happening:
- It might just be fun. In some cases, it’s a possibility that the behavior to search out new foods that are beyond the normal scope could be an advantage for scavengers to keep from starving as habitats change.
- It is likely to be defensive. Some insects can be really good at nagging other animals. In keeping reptiles and amphibians, it’s recommended against keeping excess crickets in your pet’s cage because they nag. They are omnivorous and are likely to try snacking on unsuspecting creatures – or anything else they can get their mouths on.
- It could also just be accidental. Rabbits make mistakes, too. In the wild, breaking down grasses and plants, they could accidentally pick up some worms, bugs, and other things not part of their regular diet. It’s easy to just pick “something else” up on accident.
- They could also be territorial. Since insects can be pests of some kind or another, it might just be safer to protect their territory. Biting is a stress signal for most mammals, and it’s easy to bite at something you want to go away. It’s also easy to dispose of things you don’t want around by simply eating them as well.
- Finally, we have to consider that some bugs are packed with nutrition that vegetables may not contain! Crickets, some roaches, worms, some larva, and some caterpillars are heralded in keeping amphibians, reptiles, and fish due to their protein and mineral content. It’s entirely possible a little snack here and there may just be an instinctive way to add a little “something” to their diet. Of course, since a rabbit is an herbivore, a domesticated rabbit shouldn’t need this type of variety in their diet.
Are Any Bugs Safe To Eat?
Some rabbit keepers have found their rabbits may be habitual cricket munchers. They chase down insects in the yard, and even use their agility to catch them out of the air. It’s a surprising sight for anyone!
Insects in the wild could be exposed to insecticides and pesticides that could make your pet ill if ingested. Insects may also have parasites or carry diseases that could harm your pet, even if there are no obvious signs on the insect. Some insects also have ways to defend themselves, such as wasps that can bite and sting.
Also, as we found out, some can pick the fight to begin with. It’s probably stressful to be around something that is trying to pick a fight with you. Since rabbits can really suffer from stress, it’s probably best to not expose them to any extra sources.
What If There Are Bugs In My Bunny’s Hutch?
Totally depends on the bug.
If you have a non-venomous or poisonous spider in the hutch, and your rabbit pays it no mind, it’s probably OK! These types of spiders that are content to be house spiders as well work around the clock to capture other small insects that might even be pests or carry parasites that could make your bunny sick. These little helpers could be a small boon for you and your bun.
If you have ants, check to see if they’re wood carpenter ants. It’s easy to tell by their heart-shaped head. Anytime you see a handful of these ants indoors, make it your priority to look for a problem in your hutch or home since they prefer damp, dead wood.
Otherwise, for any other insects, you’ll want to shoo them away. Look for any holes that could make good nests or hiding places and keep them very, very clean. Find any cracks or seams they may fit into and seal them using tape, silicon, or a glue, keeping any of these away from your bun while they set.
In the meantime, if you just can’t nail down where something like an ant is coming from, you can create a barrier with a thick slathering of plain petroleum jelly. They should not be able to pass through it.
Should I Go To The Vet?
Not generally, unless you see your bunny exhibiting any other odd or concerning behavior.
After seeing their rabbit caught a cricket, anyone might worry if it’s something they should be eating. Don’t stress, mammal’s digestive systems are fairly hardy and adaptable. Most likely, your rabbit’s stomach will work to just pass it through.
The rest of the time don’t make a point to feed your rabbit any insects as a treat since it isn’t the best for them, and there are many more nutritious snacks you could offer for variety and special occasions instead. There’s more risk than reward for eating bugs of any kind long-term.
If you’ve seen a bunny that’s taken a liking to eating insects, it’s not anything unheard of and rarely anything to really worry about. However, it’s best to discourage the behavior and offer them foods that are much healthier for them!
As always, if you’re worried, err on the side of calling your vet, who should be able to advise you on whether they think it’s worth stressing over. It’s safer and better to end up paying for a “just in case” visit than to find you and your friend in an emergency visit because you questioned your gut.
Here are signs you should certainly get in touch with your vet:
- Mouth breathing
- Severe diarrhea
- Blood in their urine
- Excessive fitting
- Sudden lack of appetite
What Can I Treat My Bunny With?
A whole variety of things you can find in the produce sections! Here are some examples of fun treats you can offer your bunny that you can grab with your dinner makings:
- Bananas (sparingly)
- Beet tops
- Bell peppers
- Carrots (sparingly)
- Collard greens
- Grapes (in moderation)
- Kale (just a little)
- Mustard greens
- Tomato (without leaves)
In nearly any parts of the world, you’ll find something on this list that’s low cost, often available, and sure to make your bunny’s day. The best part is figuring out what that exact thing is, and how easy it is to make your pet’s life so great!
If you’d like to do something a little more special, you can try some of these options:
- Dried pineapple (thought to be great for molting season)
- Specialized hay blends with extra variety of leaves
- Oat hay
- If you’ve got dandelions and you know they aren’t being sprayed with chemicals, your bun would love them
It’s so easy to find something special for your bun! If he’s giving you bunny-rabbit-ears for a bowl of mealworms or crickets, simply tell him no. There’s plenty of variety and excitement in the world to keep him occupied.
What Do Rabbits Eat In The Wild?
Any vegetation that they can find! Rabbits are herbivores who may need up to 300 calories a day. They have to forage for this all day, and will eat anything like grasses, flowers, and vegetables they can find.
Do Rabbits Also Eat Mice and Worms?
Maybe. Just like insects, they may opportunistically eat a few things outside of their expected diet here and there. So, you might catch them chowing down on a worm or a mouse. However, it’s not always the best for them.
Are Carrots Good For Rabbits?
Sort of. They’re best as a treat. Carrots are very high in sugar and can cause your rabbit to gain weight quickly. This is more of a dessert that should be offered in moderation. It turns out, Bugs Bunny is imitating a man known as Clark Gable.