I and my family have been raising rabbits for decades. We’ve kept rabbits both indoors and outdoors, and had some that moved back and forth depending on the weather. We’ve also kept rabbits when we didn’t have lots of extra money which certainly encouraged us to look for alternative ways to feed our bunnies. Here is what we’ve learned over the years about feeding rabbits grass.
Can you feed a rabbit only grass? Yes, rabbits can easily live on grass alone but they are not going to thrive us such a limited diet. Rabbits are natural foragers, and they and to thrive they need a varied diet like they would find if they were freely foraging in a bunny paradise.
We try to feed our pets and ourselves in the most natural ways possible. But what is natural for a rabbit?
What do Wild Rabbits Eat?
Wild rabbits eat grass, but not just a single kind of grass as you probably have in your yard. When there is only one kind of crop in an area, it’s called a monoculture, and monocultures are not a good source of food for bunnies or any other living being.
Each kind of grass or weed is similar but has very different nutrient profiles. For example, the protein in various varieties of grass used as hay ranges from 5 to 20% crude protein.
But wild rabbits don’t just stop at eating grass!
During the warm months, they eat grass, weeds, wildflowers, seeds, clovers, and even vegetables (as you know if you keep a garden!)
During the colder winter months, they will eat tree twigs and bark, conifer needles, as well as seeds and buds waiting to bloom in the spring. Their favorites, though, are any little bits of green grasses or weeds found buried in the snow or in a protected corner of the yard.
If your rabbit has free access to grass in your yard during playtime in a safe and secure playpen or fenced yard. they are going to find at least a few different kinds of grasses and weeds to eat. They are going to love that time!
What should you supplement your rabbit’s diet with during the summer?
The staple food for your pet rabbit is going to be store-purchased rabbit pellets. These pellets are made primarily of hay, so they are a convenient staple food.
However, pellets will add to the cost of getting a pet bunny (If you want to learn more, I wrote an article about the cost of getting a rabbit).
And while pellets are made of hay, it’s dried hay that doesn’t have the same nutritional profile as fresh grass and hay, so ideally you’ll supplement those pellets with some fresh rabbit food.
But what does fresh rabbit feed look like?
Supplementing with Fresh Greens
As you are weeding the garden or flower beds, don’t compost all of those weeds. Instead, give them to your rabbits! Remember that your rabbit thrives best on variety, so don’t just give them the same fresh food all of the time.
In just a short time, you’ll begin to learn which plants are your rabbit’s favorites, and which they’ll avoid. Certainly don’t give her the greens that she refuses to eat, but keep trying new grasses and weeds to see if you can find other favorites to round out your bunny’s diet.
Feeding Your Rabbit Vegetables
Vegetable trimmings from your kitchen are a welcome treat for your rabbit and provide nutrients that they normally have access to.
Vegetables can almost be a staple feed for your bunny, but I wouldn’t go out and buy a lot of fresh veggies just to feed the rabbit. Rabbits don’t care if they are eating the trimmings from the bell pepper that you put on your salad.
We give our bunnies the tops, bottoms, and peels from fresh carrots that our kids take to school for lunch. The trimmings from celery are a staple too.
Even slightly bruised and blemished veggies are great rabbit food. Slightly frozen celery stick..now it’s rabbit feed. The sugar snaps that the kids took in their lunch but didn’t finish…yup, that’s rabbit feed too.
Feeding Your Bunny Fruit
Want a real treat for your rabbit? Fruits from your garden that aren’t right for your table are perfect!
Just don’t crazy. Most fruits are packed with sugar, and too much sugar will make them fat just as it makes us fat.
Still, fruit once or twice a week won’t do your bunny in harm and will be a treat that they go crazy for.
They love fruit so much that my daughter, Marley, reserves ‘fruit days’ for days she has time to work on teaching her pet bunny tricks. With such a tasty treat at risk, her bunny is inspired to try extra hard.
Here are some of the fruits that we feed our rabbits.
- Apples (No, they won’t kill your bunny, see the article linked in the quite below)
- Watermelon Rines (they won’t eat it all, just all the sweet parts).
- Cantalope Rines (same thing)
“A rabbit can eat apple cores, seeds and all, and be just fine. Now, to be perfectly clear, your bunny shouldn’t eat lots of apples and apple seeds for a number of reasons that we’ll discuss in detail below.“RabbitPros.Com – Can Rabbits Eat Apple Seeds or Apple Cores Article.
What not to supplement your rabbit’s diet with!
We’re a big fan of “Waste Not, Want Not” as you saw in the list of fresh food that you can feed your bunny from your own family’s leftovers.
However, don’t take that too far. You shouldn’t feed any animal most of your table scraps, and that includes your rabbit.
Do not feed your bunny any scraps that:
- Are Oily
- Are Spiced
- Are Spoiled
- No Meat…that should go without saying, but…
- No Baked Goods
- Nothing with Added Sugar.
- Very Little Grains / Beans
When you deciding what to share with your bunny, ask yourself if a mother rabbit in the wild would encourage her babies to eat that thing. If the answer is no, don’t share it!
Conclusion about feeding rabbits just grass.
While it’s true that your rabbits can survive on just grass, they will do better with a more varied diet. Fortunately, most of these supplemental fresh rabbit foods are cheap and easy to find.
Be creative and be frugal when you can. If times are tight, pull weeds to feed your rabbit.