Rabbits enjoy hunting for fresh grass and weeds in the garden and eating them. Rabbits eat the fiber in leafy greens to keep them healthy, and although many weeds are suitable for your pet rabbits’ health, others can be harmful. Thus, to keep your rabbit healthy, you need to know what plants can bunnies eat.
As a quick overview, a wild rabbit will eat daisies, buttercups, clover, and dandelion leaves, among other weeds. Some weeds they avoid comprise foxgloves, poppies, and bindweed.
In our guide, you can learn more about what wild plants can rabbits eat. By the end, you’ll see that your weed-killing efforts may be manual, but at least you’ll have some nourishing delights from any common weed that isn’t harmful in your garden. (Read Weed That Looks Like Rhubarb)
What Kind Of Weeds Can A Rabbit Eat?
When foraging for plants, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- You must be sure that the plants you are feeding are safe to eat. Poisonous plants do exist but don’t be put off.
- You don’t need to become an expert as you can quickly learn the more common ones.
- To avoid pollution accumulating on leaves, don’t pick from places near roads or where automobiles are parked.
- Also, avoid areas where weedkiller may have been sprayed as it is the same around your garden, don’t pick weeds close to where you have applied weedkiller.
- It can also be wise to wear gloves and wash weeds because you never know if any dogs have used them to wee on.
Here you can find a weed selection you can feed your rabbits, so it doesn’t just have to eat grass.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelions are pretty tasty to most rabbits! Their leaves can seem like other plants if you aren’t used to weed identification, but the large seed heads on a single stem are easy to recognize. The leaves and petals of the yellow flowers are also edible to rabbits.
Goose grass (Galium aparine)
Goose Grass, also known as cleavers, sticky bud, sticky willy, and many other popular names, is easily recognized for its sticky appearance.
It has a lot of tiny hooks on it so it can cling to garments and fur.
It has short leaves arranged in circles and long stalks. The plants have small white flowers that transform into seed heads, which transform into the stick balls it uses as it grows wrapped around other plants.
Smooth Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Prickly thistle (Onopordum acanthium) weed can be eaten by rabbits, although if you need to pick any, choose the easier smooth sow thistle.
The leaves are like dandelion leaves but grayish green, turning purplish sometimes as they mature. The plant grows on tall stalks up to several feet high with yellow and smaller flowers than dandelion flowers but with several flowers on each flower spike.
Wild lettuce looks like smooth sow thistle, although this weed isn’t good for your rabbit. These can be spotted by the spikes running down the center of the underside of each leaf, whereas the smooth sow thistle will be smooth.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
The leaves of Garlic Mustard, popularly known as Jack in the Hedge, are huge heart-shaped with jagged edges. Each flower has four white petals and is tiny. It also has a garlicky aroma and one that rabbits can eat.
Dead Nettle (Lamium album/purpureum)
Rabbits can eat stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) because they don’t mind the sting.
Dead nettle looks similar but doesn’t sting, so they are much easier to pick and handle.
Looking at the flowers is the easiest way to identify them besides seeing if they will sting. For example, dead nettle has larger white or purple flowers gathered around the stem, whereas stinging nettles have tiny sprays of yellowish-green blossoms that don’t appear like flowers at all.
Can My Bunny Eat Weeds In The Grass?
Knowing which weeds are poisonous to rabbits can help you avoid picking a poisonous plant accidentally.
Some flowers and plants can kill rabbits. If you notice any of the following weeds in your garden, get rid of them.
This may mean pulling the weeds up from the roots to prevent regrowth, although it may not be enough as weeds are tenacious and can grow from the smallest remaining root piece.
The following is a list of weeds that could kill rabbits or at least make them sick:
Rabbits don’t eat anything growing from bulbs
- Amaryllis, Arum Lily (aka Cuckoo Point)
- Bindweed, Bracken, Bryony
- Convolvulus (aka Bindweed)
- Deadly Nightshade (aka Belladonna), Delphinium (aka Larkspur)
- Elder, Fool’s Parsley, Foxglove
- Hellebores, Hemlock, Henbane
- Lily of the Valley, Lupin, Laburnum
- Poppies, Privet
- Ragwort, Rhubarb leaves
Will Rabbits Eat Weeds?
Rabbits eat a broad variety of plants, including weeds. These can be found in the wild or your yard. (Learn How To Stop Weeds From Growing In Rocks)
The following weeds are thought to be safe for rabbits:
- Borage, Buttercups
- Calendula, Chamomile, Chickweed, Clover, Coltsfoot, Comfrey
- Daisies, Dandelions, Goosegrass
- Lavender, Mallow, Stinging nettles
- Nasturtium, Plantain
- Shepherd’s Purse, Sow Thistle, Yarrow
Health Benefits of Weeds for Rabbits
Weeds provide the most basic health benefit: your rabbit will like eating them. In addition, weeds that are safe for rabbits are a substantial source of fiber and are free.
According to experts, certain weeds provide additional health benefits:
- For example, Borage is a natural tranquilizer and ideal for anxious rabbits; also, if your rabbit has babies, it encourages milk flow.
- Chamomile is a natural stress reliever.
- Chickweed promotes molting and contains anti-inflammatories that could treat minor wounds or cuts.
- Coltsfoot promotes a healthy, natural respiratory system.
- Comfrey is a superfood for rabbits. It has many advantages that contribute to a higher quality of life.
- Dandelions are a diuretic and help to maintain a healthy respiratory system.
- Goosegrass is a natural laxative for rabbits.
- Nettles help fight inflammation, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system.
Weeds cannot take the place of hay in your rabbit’s diet. Therefore, these should always be supplemental foods rather than meal replacements.
What Wild Leaves Can Rabbits Eat?
Do you wonder why rabbits prefer weeds or why your pet rabbit enjoys digging up garden weeds?
Wild rabbits hunt for food, and although your pet’s life doesn’t revolve around this, it is in their nature.
Weeds are a challenge for rabbits, and as the rabbit’s teeth never stop developing, continual chewing is required. Thus, healthy weeds make a change to regular hay.
Sometimes rabbits appreciate the flavor, and dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are at the top of the list.
Previously, pet food requirements were misinterpreted. They are hind gut fermenters, meaning rabbits need a high-fiber, abrasive diet with a solid bacterial balance to keep their digestive system working smoothly. Their diet should also help them keep strong teeth and control their weight.
Knowing what type and how much food you need to keep your rabbit safe is critical.
Knowing what vegetables can rabbits eat and the types of fruit they can be fed can be vital for their overall health. But, you may ask, can rabbits eat broccoli as an example? Broccoli can lead to bad gas, so they shouldn’t eat it. (Learn How To Stop Weeds From Growing In Gravel)
Besides this, ensure your rabbit has enough fresh water and the water bowl is free from contamination, with the water changed daily.
Every day, feed a handful of fresh vegetables such as carrot tops (but not carrots because of the high sugar content), celery, cauliflower, and greens.
Rabbits enjoy herbs and will happily eat fresh mint, parsley, coriander, and basil.
Hay is a favorite food of rabbits and should make up at least 80% of their diet. In addition, various hays, such as alfalfa, oat, and Timothy, provide distinct nutritional advantages for rabbits of various ages.
Adult rabbits should be fed grass-based hays instead of alfalfa because of their high calcium content.
You may need to experiment to find out which fresh hay your rabbit prefers.
Rabbits love to graze and eat grass, so having access to a garden, preferably in a secure run, is essential. Otherwise, offer fresh grass several times a day but avoid giving grass lawn clippings. These ferment in the gut, resulting in significant and sometimes fatal complications.
Weeds safe to feed your rabbit include:
- Dandelion, Clover, Nettle
- Thistle, Chickweed, and bramble leaves
- Alfalfa, radish & clover sprouts, Arugula
- Basil, Beet greens (tops), Bell peppers, Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts, Carrot tops
- Celery, Cilantro, Clover, Collard greens
- Dandelion greens and flowers
- Dill leaves, Endive
- Kale, Mint, Mustard greens
- Parsley, Peapods
- Radish tops, Raspberry leaves, Red Leaf lettuce
- Spring greens, Swiss chard, Turnip greens
- Watercress, Wheatgrass
Note: Leafy greens need to be rotated because of oxalic acid content.
- Apple, Banana, Blueberries
- Melon, Papaya, Peach, Pear (pear leaves)
- Pineapple, Plums
- Raspberries, Strawberries
What You Don’t Feed Rabbits
Many rabbits have sweet teeth and eat anything offered. Unfortunately, many of the food we eat is highly toxic at worst and incredibly unhealthy for your rabbit.
Our high-fat, sugary diets will lead to substantial weight gain in rabbits. It also deters rabbits from devouring their hay and grass-based diet.
Anything growing from bulbs like Daffodils, Amaryllis, Onions or Alliums are poisonous.
Peanuts and Raisins
Because raisins and dried fruit are heavy in sugar, they should be avoided. In addition, peanuts have been known to cause fatal intestinal obstructions. Therefore, it is advised not to feed your rabbit any nuts.
Potatoes are high in starch and carbohydrates, thus not suitable for rabbits.
Fruit is an essential part of the human diet, but not so for rabbits, primarily due to the high sugar content, which leads to weight gain and poor dental health.
Avoid pips, seeds, and stems as they might be poisonous to rabbits.
1 cup of vegetables per 4 lb of body weight is a fair rule of thumb. Add one vegetable at a time, and avoid them if it suppresses or induces diarrhea.
Limit fruit intake to 1-2 tablespoons per 5 lb body weight from the list below.
Bananas and grapes are sugary fruits that should be used carefully.