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

Problem with leaf cutting bees in Houston, TX
December 08, 2014 - I have four Arapaho crepe myrtle trees in my backyard and two have leaves, especially the young leaves, being eaten by something. I do not see ants of beetles on the leaves and have not seen any bees ...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
July 14, 2012 - Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen t...
view the full question and answer

Leaf Galls on Live Oak
March 20, 2012 - Hi - I have a live oak tree that always seems to have thinner foliage than our other two. Upon closer examination today I found small brown balls all over the mature leaves. The balls look and feel ve...
view the full question and answer

Plants that animals won't eat from Ione WA
April 19, 2013 - In Ione Washington and need to know what types of plants and flowers I can plant that animals in that area wont eat?
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