En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - July 15, 2009

From: Shiro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Food for wild rabbits in Shiro TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

There are usually 1-2 cottontail rabbits sharing our 4 acre habitat that are suffering due to the lack of new growth caused by drought. Is there anything I can plant after this summer that would provide a good vigorous food source for them, especially during the summer? I have plenty of area available, sun and shade.

ANSWER:

Usually when we get questions about rabbits (and deer!) eating, it has more to do with what they will NOT eat because they are laying waste to the homeowner's garden and prize plants.

One of the Smarty Plants team said that a vegetable garden comes to mind. From our viewpoint, just about everything in a vegetable garden is non-native to North America and probably so highly hybridized that the original plant would be unrecognizable. However, it is a good idea. We went hunting for the answer to your question, and found that most websites on rabbit food had to do with pet rabbits, and usually involved advertising for the pellets commonly used for pets.

However, from a website whowhatwherewhenwhy?com we found What Do Rabbits Eat? From this, we took an excerpt:

"Rabbits are true vegetarians. Herbivore is the scientific term.

Rabbits mostly eat grass and leafy weeds. This food contains high amounts of cellulose, which is difficult to digest. To counteract that problem, rabbits eat their own feces. They pass two different kinds of solid waste, one of which is soft pellets that the rabbit immediately eats after passing. This helps them to get more of the nutrient content from their food in the same way cows do by chewing their cud. As nauseating as that sounds, rabbits do not have the ability to vomit.

Pet rabbits eat timothy hay, rabbit food pellets and fresh vegetables. Talk to your pet store owner to make sure your rabbit gets a completely balanced diet with all the required nutrients. One of the benefits of keeping outdoor rabbits is a constant supply of fertilizer for your garden and flower beds.

So, what to rabbits eat? Leaves, grass, plants and their own poop."

Okay, that was probably more than you ever wanted to know, but you did ask. 

The main thing that we learned is that rabbits will nibble grass, tree bark, flowering stems and small leafy plants. They need some cover nearby the spot where the food is, because bunnies are a favorite food of hawks. Another point is that they need water. One suggestion was to feed them wet lettuce leaves, but if you are depending on their eating from the wild, perhaps an intermittent sprinkler that would wet the rabbit menu, or just a big fairly flat bowl, like a birdbath but not on a stand, would be a good choice. And if you find yourself with more rabbits than you thought were around, and some passing deer, raccoons and possums, don't say you weren't warned.

 

 

 

More Pests Questions

What is hollowing out my rosebuds in Austin, TX?
April 28, 2012 - I recently noticed some of my rose buds had been hollowed out from the inside. I have seen no evidence of insect though. What do you think it is and how can I treat the problem?
view the full question and answer

Cultivar of Cercis Canadensis from Haskell OK
May 16, 2012 - We have a Hearts of Gold Redbud that first had dark edges to many of its leaves (about 2 weeks after planting). It now has multiple leaves w/ medium-dark brown spots on them. Are we looking at some ...
view the full question and answer

White fungus-like growths on plants from Stephenville TX
May 25, 2013 - What is a white fungus-like growth on plants in a garden? It can be seen on the ground in ball-like shapes similar to puff balls or on plants
view the full question and answer

Weird growth on oaks in Middleburg FL
February 05, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; I have this plant/fungus that grows on my trees here in northeast Florida & nobody has been able to identify it for me. It looks like a clump of pine needles growing on the ba...
view the full question and answer

Bugs on Arizona Cypress in Bellwood IL
August 27, 2011 - I live in Illinois and have an Arizona Cypress that looks like it is dying but I notice today it has bugs inside its cone. Can you tell me why and what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center