En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - Please don't bother to answer my question about how to treat a crepe myrtle with sticky stuff falling from it. I just found the answer on your site. Good site, by the way.
view the full question and answer

Preventing weeds in kinnikinnick in Richland WA
May 29, 2011 - We planted our kinnickinick last Nov. and we live in Richland, WA, where it gets hot in the summer. We planted almost 500 of them on a hillside. Weeding is taking over our lives, to say the least. ...
view the full question and answer

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Webworm on Texas Mountain Laurel in Texas
September 02, 2015 - I thought my mountain laurel had web worms and I sprayed for them. Now the plant looks like it still has the worms even though none are present. Also, I sprayed with a fungicide because some of the ...
view the full question and answer

Using Dormant Oils in the Winter
January 20, 2015 - What are your thoughts on the use of dormant oils as part of a winter maintenance program? I live in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center