Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Fungus gnats on indoor plants
July 09, 2007 - Hello, I live in Austin and I work in an office where we like to have plants. Recently we started to get these annoying tiny, little nits, how can we get rid of them without harming my plants. Help th...
view the full question and answer

Roses being attacked by spider mites
January 18, 2008 - My roses are being eaten alive by spider mites. I read that this area of Texas has a huge problem with these devils! I've tried everything to kill them to no avail! Can you help me? Gratefully yours,...
view the full question and answer

Possible maple scale on non-native mophead hydrangeas from Newport RI
August 07, 2013 - I have a mophead hydrangea that has small white cottony tufts under the leaves and on the stems. I believe this is maple scale. Is there a home remedy I can use to rid this disease?
view the full question and answer

Fighting ants and bugs in Richardson TX
September 01, 2010 - Before my blue fall asters and my Clara Curtis (perennial) mums bloom in a few weeks, what can I do to help prevent the ants and other bugs from eating them to death- so I can enjoy them a bit longer ...
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.