Like their domestic rabbit cousins, wild rabbits are herbivores. They eat a wide variety of plants. If you have a garden, it’s good to know which plants wild rabbits like to eat. In fact, I get asked by people all the time about which plants wild rabbits eat. So, do they eat corn, celery, lettuce, peanuts, apples, asparagus, grass, strawberries and bird seed?
Do Wild Rabbits Eat Lettuce?
Wild rabbits eat whatever they can find in meadows, but often they’ll sneak into backyards and gardens. Because grass is accessible, it is their primary source of food.
The grasses they eat are:
- Bermuda grass
- Prairie hay
- Rye grass
If a wild rabbit sneaks into your backyard, he’ll also munch on leafy weeds, shrubs and tree seedlings. In your garden, he’ll snack on the tender shoots of plants like lettuce, beans and broccoli. They also love flowers such as marigolds, pansies and petunias. During the colder months, wild rabbits eat more of a wood-based diet like tree bark, twigs and pine needles.
Do Wild Rabbits Eat Corn?
Some home owners like to feed wild rabbits in the colder months of the year. Unless it’s a freezing winter, most rabbits survive fine all winter. Rabbits forage for food until the plants freeze. After that, they eat tree bark, twigs and branches.
But, if you want to feed wild rabbits in your backyard, give them foods that are safe and healthy. For instance, corn kernels have hulls that rabbits can’t digest. If they eat hulls, they might get a blockage in their digestive tract. Plus, corn is too starchy for rabbits and they don’t do well eating lots of carbs or sugar. Corn husks are stringy and hard for rabbits to chew. It’s best not to feed your wild rabbit friends corn since it’s not good for their digestive system.
When Do Wild Rabbits Eat?
Wild rabbits graze on grass and natural hays early in the morning and early evening. These are the safest times for them to eat. They usually eat not too far from their hiding areas. They’ll eat a lot during the first hour of grazing, then they’ll look around for other plants if the area they’re searching in is safe. Wild rabbits, like domestic rabbits, also eat their cecotropes, or night feces. These are nutrition packed droppings which give the rabbit all they need to survive. Wild rabbits don’t live long, because of disease, starvation and predators. Their life span is between 8 to 12 years.
Can Wild Rabbits Eat Celery?
Wild celery grows only in marshy areas or wetlands. Wild rabbits don’t live in these areas. So, although they can eat celery, it’s not something most wild rabbits will find in meadows, woodland areas or backyards. If you’re feeding wild rabbits in your backyard, give them the leafy green parts of the celery from your fridge. Just be sure to wash it completely to remove chemicals. But don’t give your wild friends too much celery, it causes diarrhea in rabbits if they eat too much.
Do Wild Rabbits Eat Fruit?
Wild rabbits like strawberries which can be found in the wild or backyard gardens. If you’re feeding wild rabbits in your backyard, don’t give them too much fruit. Fruits are full of sugar which isn’t good for rabbits. Apples are good choices, but only give your wild rabbit friends an apple slice once in a while as a treat to avoid overloading them with sugar.
Can Wild Rabbits Eat Peanuts?
Peanuts aren’t good for rabbits. They’re high in protein which adult rabbits shouldn’t eat. People say they’ve fed wild rabbits peanuts, but because they’re herbivores, their digestive system isn’t accustomed to digesting protein. It’s best to feed wild rabbits a plant-based diet so they can stay healthy.
Which Plants Do Rabbits Avoid?
Although rabbits are herbivores, there are certain plants they won’t eat. It’s a good idea to grow these plants around the edge of your garden with the plants that rabbits like inside. This way, you will keep the rabbits from eating all the vegetables in your garden. Here are the plants rabbits avoid eating
Rabbits also dislike some flowers and herbs. These are good plants to edge your flower beds or to plant in pots near your house.
- Wax begonias
Do Wild Cottontails Eat Birdseed?
Wild rabbits will eat bird seed that falls on the ground. They like the bird seed and it’s okay for them to eat. it’s not a normal food for their diet but it won’t hurt them. Some home owners leave out extra bird seed for wild rabbits in the winter time. Certain seeds in wild bird seeds, like sunflowers, are fattening. So eating these seeds is healthy for wild rabbits in when it’s cold outside. Extra fat keeps them warm and helps them survive the cold.
How Should I Feed A Wild Rabbit In My Backyard?
If you want to feed wild rabbits in your backyard, you must come up with a general plan of action to attract the rabbits and keep them coming back for food. It’s also important to feed them in a way that won’t attract other wild animals into your backyard.
- Choose a spot in your yard to place the food-Find an area of your yard away from where your dog or kids play. Choose an area that has bushes or evergreens where the wild rabbits can hide. Put the food for the wild rabbits here every day.
- Provide food-Provide leafy green vegetables and herbs for the wild rabbits. You can even plant some herbs they like to nibble on in a flower bed near the area you’ve chosen to feed the wild rabbits. Be sure to give them healthy vegetables that won’t cause gas. You can even throw some grasses in with the green plants for the wild rabbits. It’s great fiber for their digestive system.
- Give water-Set out water in a shallow bowl for the wild rabbits to drink. Be sure to provide water all year round. In the winter, break up any ice that forms in the water bowl.
Is It Safe To Pick Up A Wild Rabbit?
It’s not a good idea to pick up a wild rabbit. They aren’t used to humans touching them. If a wild rabbit lets you pick him up, he may be ill. Wild rabbits carry diseases that affect humans. In some states, it’s illegal to keep wildlife such a wild rabbits as pets. It’s never a good idea to make a wild rabbit a domestic pet. Never take a baby bunny from its nest assuming the mother rabbit has deserted it. Mother rabbits feed their young early in the morning or late at night, so you’re not likely to see her around the nest because she stays away to keep predators from finding the nest.
Do Wild Rabbits Carry Diseases?
Tularemia is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. Wild rabbits are often the carriers of this disease. It’s rare, but there are several cases every year.
How is it spread?
Tularemia bacteria spreads through the blood or mucous membranes from infected animals. Humans can get it through handling a wild animal, getting bit by an infected tick or deer fly. You can also get tularemia from eating infected rabbit meat that isn’t cooked properly. It’s rare, but tularemia bacteria is spread through drinking contaminated water, breathing in dust from contaminated soil or handling pelts or paws that are infected. Tularemia bacteria can’t spread from human to human.
Who gets this disease?
The disease is present all year round in the U.S. Adults get it in the early winter months during rabbit hunting season or in the summer, kids get it when outside and exposed to ticks or deer flies carrying the disease.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
- Slow forming ulcer on the area of skin where the bacteria first entered like the hand or arm.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pneumonia like illness of the bacteria was breathed in from dust
- If the bacteria gets ingested, the symptoms are sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting
Symptoms appear anywhere from 1 to 14 days after exposure. The treatment is antibiotics. Once treated, you might be immune for a short time, but then can become reinfected.