Can rabbits eat grass? It is a common question among many pet owners upon seeing wild rabbits grazing in lush, green spaces.
If you’re planning on letting your pet bunnies roam in a garden or pasture with abundant grass, read on to know more about its risks, benefits, and safety precautions.
Can pet bunnies eat grass?
One of the primary food sources of wild rabbits is grass. They usually build their warrens near lush, green spaces.
So, it’s natural for your pet bunnies to eat grass, especially when their primal instincts kick in. You may notice they’d willingly graze on it when allowed to roam outdoors.
While your rabbits may welcome grass to their daily diet, it may be impractical for the owners. It can be challenging to grow high-quality grass that can sustain your pet’s nutritional needs.
Is eating fresh grass safe for rabbits?
Eating grass is safe for rabbits; however, it’s not advisable to abruptly switch their diet to grass-based. If your pets usually eat dry grass or hay, they might have difficulty digesting fresh grass.
Please take note that the grass’ molecular structure changes as it dries so that it can disrupt a rabbit’s digestive system. Consuming this new food in high quantities may lead to illness and other health issues.
What are the things to consider when feeding fresh grass to rabbits?
Feeding fresh grass to rabbits is relatively safe, but there are a few things you need to consider before letting them graze outdoors. Check out these questions to determine the safety and quality of the grass.
- Are there other wild animals who feed or step on the grass? Wild birds and rodents may leave traces of feces or urine on the grass. Your rabbits may get sick if they ingest contaminated grass.
- Are there other pets who play in the garden? Other pets, such as dogs and cats, urinate on the grass, so it’s not safe for your rabbits to eat them.
- Is the grass treated with chemicals? Some garden owners or landscapers apply chemicals to grass to make it lush. However, these substances can be toxic for your pet bunnies.
- Is this your rabbit’s first time eating grass? If your bunny has never eaten grass before, introduce it slowly to its diet. Any kind of food may be harmful if your pet consumes a lot for the first time.
Is grass healthy for your rabbits?
Grass can be healthy for your rabbits if given in the right amounts. While hay is technically dried-up grass, it may differ in nutritional benefits.
High-quality grass is filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals good for your rabbit’s health. On the other hand, hay loses some nutrients as it dries up.
Fresh grass can also encourage hydration since it contains more moisture than hay. When bunnies eat grass, they can get the needed water without drinking much from their water bowl.
In addition, fresh grass is also beneficial to your bunny’s dental health. It has a silica coating that creates microscopic spikes. The rough surface can help grind your rabbit’s teeth to prevent overgrowing. Overgrown teeth can be harmful to your rabbit’s overall health.
What are the risks of grass as rabbit food?
You may wonder, if the grass is healthy for rabbits, then why isn’t this their primary food? Fresh grass may be more nutrient-dense than hay, but not all sources of grass are a hundred percent safe.
You may not know what’s on your lawn or garden. There might be pesticides and animal waste that can be toxic to your pets. Your bunnies can’t identify the scent of harmful substances, so that they might consume them unknowingly.
When you let your rabbits graze in your garden, you can’t control how much they eat. Overeating can disrupt their digestive functions and cause obesity and other health problems.
What happens when a rabbit ingests pesticide from the grass?
If your bunny accidentally ingests pesticides, it may show the following signs of poisoning:
- Listlessness and lethargy
- Body temperature that goes above or below 100.5-103.5 degrees Fahrenheit
- Convulsions and seizures
- Loss or lack of appetite
- Not interested in its usual activities
Bring your pet to a veterinarian at the first sign of these symptoms.
A rabbit can’t purge its stomach contents, so don’t try to induce vomiting. Inform the veterinary clinic that your pet has contact with fresh grass that is possibly contaminated. It is an emergency, so don’t wait any longer.
What are the types of grass that rabbits can eat?
Rabbits can feast on any grass, but the best kinds are used to make hay. These kinds of grass are rarely used for landscaping since they grow very tall. The variety of grass used for the lawn may be safe for rabbits, but they’re not as nutritious as timothy, oat, or orchard hay.
If you’re planning to grow a garden with your rabbit’s nutrition in mind, you may scatter different grass seed varieties. You can turn your patch of land into a delicious pasture for your bunnies.
You can also add some dandelions and clovers that your bunnies can enjoy. Some basil and mint are great, too, since these herbs are also a good source of nutrients.
If you don’t have ample outdoor space, you can grow grass in a window box or a planter. Meadow grass and wheatgrass are good options. They are more nutritionally dense than other grass types. They can be an excellent supplement to your rabbit’s hay diet.
The following are kinds of grass that can be safe for your rabbits.
- Meadow grass
- Bermuda grass
- Fescue grass
- Timothy grass
- Oat grass
Are weeds and other plants in your garden safe for your rabbits?
If you’re thinking of letting your rabbits out in the yard often, you should be wary of other plants and weeds that grow outdoors. Even if some plants are suitable for other pets, such as vats and dogs, they are not necessarily good for your bunnies.
Here’s are garden weeds and plants that are safe for your rabbits.
- Goosegrass or cleavers
- Garlic mustard
On the other hand, some weeds are safe for your rabbits but are not safe for other pets.
- Nettles – rabbits don’t usually notice this plant’s sting, but other animals might.
- Smooth saw thistles – bunnies don’t usually mind the prickly part of this weed, but other pets and humans might feel the sting.
What are the tips when letting rabbits eat grass?
Your rabbits cannot differentiate grass from other plants in your garden. They’ll usually be glad to eat any lush and green thing they see.
Here are some tips to help your rabbits have a safe grass-feeding experience.
Ensure that they’re eating fresh and toxic-free grass
If you’re not sure your lawn is pesticide-free, please don’t let them graze on it. Harmful substances can be fatal to your bunnies, so you must be very careful.
Don’t substitute grass with hay
Hay should still be your pets’ primary food source since your bunnies need the toughness and fiber from dried grass. It would be best to consider the grass as a snack rather than their main course.
Introduce grass slowly to the rabbit’s diet
Introducing grass slowly to your rabbit’s diet will allow them to adjust to the texture and chemical structure of the plant.
Please don’t let your bunnies eat too much since it may cause stomach upset. You can give them a small bunch of grass in their hutch for a few days so you can observe its effect on them.
Monitor your rabbit’s wellbeing after they’ve eaten grass
After your bunny has ingested grass, watch out for signs of an upset stomach. If they develop diarrhea, then it means they have overeaten. Stop giving them grass and consult your veterinarian. Loose bowel movements can cause dehydration and can be harmful to your pets.
Avoid giving grass from a lawnmower
When grass is trimmed using a lawnmower, it undergoes fermentation due to the machine’s heat. Fermented food is not suitable for your rabbit’s complicated gut.
It will usually experience gas and bloating which can be painful. It would be best to give grass that you’ve cut using garden scissors.
Set up an exercise pen
If you want your rabbit to graze naturally, setting up an exercise pen would be great. Having a specific area where your pet can play and eat grass can ensure it won’t overeat or go where it’s not allowed.
So, do rabbits eat grass? Sure, they do, and they usually love it! While grass is generally safe for bunnies to eat, there are some safety measures that you need to remember, so your rabbit will remain healthy.
A helpful tip is to ensure that 80% of their diet is hay, and 20% can be fresh grass or other greens.