Sometimes, as a special treat, you like to take your rabbit outside to play. You always supervise them, of course. During one of these outdoor play adventures, your rabbit comes across an insect. Will they eat it?
As herbivorous animals, rabbits should not eat insects. Instead, they prefer plant-based sources of food. If they were carnivorous, they’d favor bugs, since they’d consume meat. That said, sometimes rabbits may still munch on a bug despite their herbivorous leanings.
In this article, we’ll explore what to do if your rabbit consumes a bug, whether accidentally or even on purpose. We’ll also talk about what your rabbit should eat to live a happy, healthy life. Let’s get started.
Do Rabbits Eat Insects?
As we mentioned in the intro, rabbits will very rarely seek out insects as a food source voluntarily. There are some instances, where someone’s pet rabbit has purposely consumed these bugs. This doesn’t happen very often though, and you shouldn’t consider it the norm.
Why don’t rabbits eat insects? They’re herbivores. This means they only eat plants and plant-based foods. In the wild, rabbits will consume leafy weeds, forbs, and grass. A forb is simply a type of flowering plant.
With so much cellulose in their diets, rabbits actually have a tough time with digestion. To aide in the process, they do what’s known as hindgut fermentation. This process occurs among animals that have a stomach with one chamber. Rabbits will make pellets and hard droppings when they defecate. The pellets, sometimes called night droppings or caecotrophs, get consumed by the rabbit. This means of coprophagy allows the rabbit to get nutrients through reingestion.
That may sound gross, and it’s not something a domestic rabbit should do. Still, if you ever see your bunny approaching its own poop like it wants to eat it, now you understand why.
What Should Rabbits Eat Instead?
Okay, so now we know that most rabbits don’t eat insects because they’re herbivores. We also know what wild rabbits eat, but what about domesticated ones?
A domesticated rabbit has a semi-varied diet, with staples of hay, pellets, and water. They also enjoy fruit and vegetables on occasion.
Here’s more information on a domesticated rabbit’s diet.
Hay comprises most of what your pet rabbit consumes. At the beginning of their lives, you should feed your rabbit alfalfa hay to bulk them up. As they get older, switch from alfalfa, as it has a lot of calories per serving. Lower-calorie options like oat, grass, and Timothy hays keep your rabbit from getting obese.
While these hays have less sugar and protein than alfalfa hay, your bunny still gets enough digestive fiber in their diets. Also, did you know hay can keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy and strong? The very act of chewing it rubs their teeth down to a manageable length.
Another dietary staple, pellets most often consist of hay, but they may have other ingredients as well. You don’t want your rabbit getting too much protein from their pellets, as this could bolster weight gain. Instead, give them pellets with high fiber.
Fruit adds some fun to your rabbit’s diet. Still, you should only offer fruit sparingly. It has a lot of sugar, and too much sweet stuff isn’t good for a rabbit’s diet. They quite like fruits like apples, pineapples, bananas, raspberries, and strawberries. If you feed your rabbit an apple, make sure you remove the seeds before offering it to them.
You can give your rabbit vegetables more often than fruit. These provide some hydration and give your rabbit something fresh to munch on. Feed your bunny water cress, parsley, mustard greens, and mint.
You can add in some lettuce, but avoid cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Also, don’t give your rabbit dark-leaf lettuce or romaine. Most rabbit experts recommend limiting a bunny’s consumption of kale as well.
Other options include dill, dandelion leaves, collard greens, clover, cilantro, celery, bok choy, and basil. Broccoli’s okay too, but not the tops or the stems. These can cause gas in rabbits.
Finally, we have to talk about carrots. Like cats and milk, many people believe rabbits should eat carrots and nothing but. Carrots do provide a great source of calcium. Since you need to monitor a rabbit’s calcium consumption, though, they shouldn’t eat carrots nearly as often as you’d expect. Limit consumption to an occasional treat. Otherwise, they could get kidney disease from too much calcium in the diet.
Eating all those pellets and hay can leave a rabbit parched fast. Your rabbit should always have a reliable source of fresh, clean water in which to drink from. Water bowls and hanging bottles both work fine.
Any good bunny deserves treats from time to time. You can offer fruits or even some commercial bunny treats. Just check the sugar content and calories before feeding too many treats to your rabbit.
Don’t give your bunny people food as a reward. Like cats and dogs, rabbits find chocolate toxic and could possibly die if they eat it. Cereal, cookies, pretzels, pasta, crackers, and other carbohydrates are a no-go as well.
If rabbits eats tons of carbs at a young age, they could develop health maladies. For instance, if too much bacteria develops in their gut, your rabbit could get enteritis. This condition causes the intestines to get swollen and inflamed. If the rabbit has mucoid enteritis, they could have a lot of mucus in the body, especially the intestines.
What Would Happen if a Rabbit Ate an Insect?
Let’s say you took your rabbit outside and they came across an insect like a cricket. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, they ate the bug. What’s going to happen to them?
More than likely, nothing. If it’s just a single bug and your bunny doesn’t make this a habit, you shouldn’t have to worry about any ill effects. That said, that’s not always true.
Many rabbits have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract. They’re prone to many diseases in this area, including the abovementioned enteritis. While eating a single grasshopper or other insect likely will not cause any gastrointestinal tract diseases, the consumption could upset your rabbit’s sensitive stomach.
As you might remember from reading this blog, rabbits cannot vomit. If they eat something they don’t want to keep in their systems, such as fur or an insect, they cannot expel it via normal means. That’s why you should always keep an eye on your rabbit if they’re outside. Leaving them unsupervised means you have no idea what they’re doing or eating.
Now, there’s another risk we have to talk about it, although it’s not super likely. If the bug in question had been covered in pesticides or other chemicals and your rabbit ate it, that could cause major trouble for your bunny. As we said, rabbits have sensitive stomachs on a good day; ingesting chemicals would be a serious problem. It could even potentially lead to death.
What Should You Do If Your Rabbit Eats an Insect?
Since you can never ascertain where the insect came from and whether it’s clear of pesticides, we recommend doing one thing after your rabbit eats a bug.
That’s take them to the vet.
We’re not necessarily saying something could be wrong with your bunny after ingesting one bug. As we mentioned in the last section, more than likely, they’re just fine. Still, instead of assuming that yourself, isn’t it better to hear it from a trained, professional veterinarian? We think so.
While you don’t need to treat your rabbit eating a bug as an emergency, you should get them to the vet the same day of the incident. The sooner, the better. When you see your vet, explain that your rabbit consumed a bug. If you know which type of bug (like a mosquito, worm, or cricket), then mention that.
Your vet will probably give your rabbit a health checkup. If your rabbit has any gastrointestinal distress, the vet may recommend a medication or treatment to alleviate your bunny’s discomfort. Otherwise, whatever they suggest, follow your vet’s advice. More than likely, they will just take a wait-and-see approach. If something happens to your rabbit, you can bring them back. If not, then they should be okay after eating the bug.
As herbivores, rabbits only eat plant-based foods. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever consume meat, but this happens incredibly rarely. Sometimes, your rabbit might eat a bug, like a cricket. While your bunny shouldn’t make a diet of bugs, rare ingestion shouldn’t cause major concern.
Since rabbits have fragile gastrointestinal tracts, you should monitor what they eat closely. Also, rabbits cannot vomit, so even if they eat something bad, they can’t get it out of their bodies the same way many animals can.
That’s why we recommend taking your rabbit to the vet if you’ve seen them eat a bug. It’s much better for them to get a clean bill of health from a professional.