Top Secrets About What Do Wild Rabbits Like To Eat

All rabbits are herbivores, whether they live in the wild or are kept as pets. This means that they only eat material that comes from plants: things like grasses, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Rabbits are only able to stomach food that comes from plants. If a rabbit were to eat anything from an animal, they would get very sick. Yeah, What Do Wild Rabbits Like To Eat? Of course, rabbits want their food to be plant-based. Some good examples like carrots, grass, flowers, radishes….

If you’re wondering what a wild rabbit’s diet consists of and if it’s possible to replicate this diet for your pet rabbit, then keep reading. This article will take a look at the average diet of a wild rabbit and how you can use this information to ensure your bunny has the best possible food and feeding schedule.

Rabbits that live in the wild will eat different types of plants depending on their location. As herbivores, rabbits will only consume plants and no animal products or meat. The main part of a wild rabbit’s diet consists of green plants that are high in fiber. This type of food is good for their digestive system and teeth. However, what other things do wild rabbits eat? Let’s take a closer look.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat Compared With Pet Rabbits?

Bunny Eat Grass
Bunny Eat Grass

First things first, let’s take a look at what the natural diet of a wild rabbit is. Wild rabbits do not always have access to the wide array of vegetables and commercial rabbit foods that their domestic counterparts consume. Most pet owners feed their rabbits plenty of hay, greens, and fresh veggies. So what do wild rabbits like to eat?

You should understand that wild rabbits have a diet that is completely dependent on climate. They have a completely different diet between summer and winter. With grass and flowers in the summer and possibly the bark or hay they find under the snow.

Wild rabbits have a completely different diet from pet rabbits, simply with pet rabbits you are the one providing food for them. With wild rabbits, they have to find food on their own, whether it’s summer or winter.

Natural Wild Rabbit Diets

Rabbits are, first and foremost, herbivores. This means that they only eat plants and avoid meat and animal parts. One long-term study done on European rabbits, in fact, discovered that wild rabbits very rarely, if at all, consume or even try to consume meat of other animal parts.

In the rare instances that wild rabbits did consume meat, it was actually their own young. So, we can safely assume that wild rabbits don’t need meat. They thrive off of a diet of plants alone. Still, this is a very vague answer and could do with some narrowing down.

What Plants Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

Wild rabbits consume green plants whenever available. This includes things such as clover, leafy weeds, grasses, shrubs, and leaves. But it will vary depending on what is available to the rabbits, and what time of year it is.

Wild rabbits eat plenty of grass, which acts as roughage and is good for their digestive systems. However, wild rabbits are extremely picky with their food. They prefer fresh florae over all else, and are even sometimes described as climbing trees to reach the fresh leaves above.

Why Are Wild Rabbits So Picky?

Wild rabbits will eat the part of the plant with the highest nitrogen content first. They prefer foods that they can eat quickly and easily. If a leaf is particularly tough and is going to take longer than a second to tear, your average wild rabbit is going to find a different food source.

Do Wild Rabbits Eat Vegetables?

Interestingly, wild rabbits do not actually prefer veggies. They will not consume carrots if green, leafy vegetation is available instead. So, if you’re wondering “Do wild rabbits eat carrots?” the answer is, “Yes, they will, but it’s not their favorite.”

The same applies to most other vegetables. Although we like to give our own pet rabbits lots of fresh veggies, wild rabbits will eat whatever nutrient-dense foods are available.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat in the Winter?

Obviously, fresh, green foliage is not available in the winter time. So what do wild rabbits eat in the winter? This really depends on the specific location. In areas that don’t see much snowfall, rabbits will mostly stick to dried, dead plants and whatever green stuff they can find.

Actually, in many places in the southern United States, there are green plants growing nearly all year around. Rabbits in these areas will stick to grazing on the few green plants they can find – even if they aren’t their favorite. This is true where I live. Rabbits can be seen grazing in fields all year around because there are usually at least a few green plants still standing.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat When There Are No Greens?

As is necessary for survival, wild rabbits do not usually eat foods based on their taste buds. Instead, their diet consists largely of what is available. However, this does not mean that wild rabbits do not like some foods more than others. In fact, it has been found that wild rabbits do prefer certain types of plants.

As was previously stated, rabbits do not actually prefer carrots. Instead, they would much rather munch on things like apple, peach, and cherry tree leaves and bark. They also prefer spruces and firs, as opposed to oaks. Alongside these particular foods, rabbits prefer the greenest, freshest vegetation. So you might say, that’s a wild rabbit’s favorite food.

How Much Water Do Wild Rabbits Need?

Water is actually extremely important for wild rabbits’ diet. In fact, one study actually discovered that water intake was actually more important than food intake when it came to a rabbit retaining its weight. In other words, rabbits who were provided with limited water but plenty of food lost significant weight when compared to your average rabbit.

This is due to the rabbit’s particular digestive system. Simply put, wild rabbit food requires a lot of water to digest. When this water isn’t available, they simply cannot digest the food they consume!

What Does This Mean?

This might be one of the large reasons rabbits prefer fresh, green plants to others. These plants simply have the highest water content. So, they allow the rabbit to fulfill its daily water need on top of providing nutrients and energy.

This is opposed to dry plants and bark, which do not contain very much water. If the rabbit eats these types of plants, he or she would have to find drinkable water elsewhere. This would take up valuable grazing time and increase the rabbit’s exposure to predators.

Basically, the choice to eat plants with a high water content simply makes sense for wild rabbits. This might also explain why domestic rabbit’s diet is somewhat different from that of a wild rabbit’s diet. A domestic rabbit has ready access to water, and does not need to rely so heavily on its food to provide it.

When Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

Now that we know the answer to the question “What do wild rabbits eat?” let’s explore when wild rabbits eat.

Rabbits tend to eat around dawn and dusk. These are the safest times for the wild rabbits to escape from their burrow or thick undergrowth and graze. Mostly, this is because predators are generally less active at these times. Plus, the dim lighting makes it difficult for predators to spot the wild rabbit.

When the sun begins to rise or set, wild rabbits will graze vigorously. They often return to the same area each day, and so already know where their favorite plants are located. After their stomachs have been somewhat filled, they will slow down and more selectively graze until the area is no longer safe.

How Long Do Rabbits Spend Eating?

In all, these wild rabbits will only spend about two thirty-minute periods grazing a day. Of course, this timetable can change depending on location and time of year. In the winter, a rabbit might have to spend more time grazing due to the lack of food and need to find water.

During these periods of intense feeding, rabbits will excrete hard fecal pellets. However, when they are resting, they excrete “cecotropes.” These droppings are actually extremely nutritious. They are one of the main reasons rabbits can survive harsh winter conditions with little food.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat As Babies?

Everything we’ve looked at so far applies to adult wild rabbits. So what do wild baby rabbits eat?

Domestic rabbits will start to forage and eat solid foods in a matter of weeks. But wild baby rabbits take even less time to develop to this stage. They will rely on their mother’s milk at first. But will develop quickly and begin to forage alongside their mother.

As they start to forage, they will pick out the same types of food as their mother. So, once they are weaned off of milk, they will be eating the same nutrient-dense leafy green plants.

Feeding a Wild Rabbit

First, veterinarians do not recommend feeding wild rabbits. However, if you find that you are caring for a wild rabbit as a result of an accident or other traumatic event, there are some things you should remember about feeding them.

You can provide hay, such as oat hay or timothy hay, in place of or in addition to grass. If you are feeding grass, make sure it has not been treated with chemicals.

Wild rabbits can eat pellet foods designed for domestic rabbits, but only in small amounts, as they are so nutrient-rich. They can also have green leafy vegetables – but not ones that cause gas, as they cannot pass it.

Finding Baby Wild Rabbits

Please note, baby bunnies are difficult for humans to raise. Survival rates are not high when wild infant rabbits are taken care of by humans.

Plus sometimes humans accidentally take them away from adult rabbits who have left the nest for a short time. In the case of baby rabbits, getting them to a wildlife rehabilitation center quickly is your best bet.

What Do Wild Rabbits Like To Eat?

  • Wild rabbits are actually very picky eaters, choosing to eat fresh, green vegetation over most vegetables.
  • In the winter, they can survive off of tree bark and twigs if the snow cover prevents them from reaching the dried grasses on the ground.
  • Truly, wild rabbits are extremely resilient and can survive in extremely tough conditions.
  • Do you have any memorable experiences with wild rabbits? Let us know in the comment section below!


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