If you encounter a rabbit in the wild, she’ll likely be eating grass. They build warrens close to green spaces. Wild rabbits spend hours grazing on wild grass, retreating to their warren when full.
If you’re going to clip some grass to feed your rabbit, you should use scissors. Grass cut with a lawnmower undergoes fermentation. This can upset a rabbit’s stomach and make her feel unwell.
Is Fresh Grass Safe for Rabbits to Eat?
It’s entirely natural for rabbits to eat grass. Wild rabbits sustain themselves exclusive on the substance. This means that your pet will maintain an instinct to repeat the behavior. She will likely eat grass whenever enjoying exercise.
For the most part, this is completely safe. There are several steps you’ll need to take, though. There could be a range of hidden dangers in your lawn grass:
- Has the grass been treated with any chemicals? These may be toxic to your rabbit.
- Do other pets use the garden? They may have urinated on the grass.
- What wild animals use the grass? Birds can leave traces of urine or feces.
- Has the grass recently been trimmed with a lawnmower? This causes fermentation.
- Has your rabbit eaten grass before? If not, introduce it to her diet slowly.
If you can be sure that your rabbit will not fall foul of these concerns, she can enjoy the grass. She should do. It satisfies your rabbit’s natural instincts and provides entertainment.
The best way to ensure your pet’s safety is by setting up an exercise pen. Do this in an area that contains fresh, untreated grass. Your rabbit can then graze while she plays.
You could also try adding a small grass box to your rabbit’s hutch. She can eat this when she wants a break from hay. Just be sure to change the grass regularly.
Can Rabbits Eat Grass Instead of Hay?
It’s no secret that hay is a critical part of your rabbit’s diet. Your pet relies upon hay to meet her nutritional needs and remain healthy. As hay is dried grass, can you provide grass instead?
Rabbits can eat grass and hay. Grass should never replace hay unless strictly necessary, though. Hay performs two essential duties that humble grass cannot match:
- Hay is packed with fiber. Fresh grass contains less fiber and won’t aid your pet’s digestion to the same extent as hay.
- Hay is tougher than grass. Your rabbit relies on this to wear down her ever-growing teeth. Fresh grass does not need to be chewed.
This does not mean that your rabbit must avoid grass. If your pet enjoys grazing, it’s okay for her to eat from a safe lawn. Just ensure that 80% of her diet is still made up of hay.
If your rabbit refuses to eat hay for any reason, then grass is the next best thing. Grow your own grass, though. Don’t rely on what grows in your yard. Be aware that rabbits need to eat a lot of fresh grass to match their hay intake.
It’s also worth investigating just why your rabbit won’t eat hay. Try different types in an attempt at piquing her interest. Your pet will always be healthier if hay makes up the vast majority of her diet.
Can Rabbits Have Too Much Grass?
A rabbit cannot eat too much grass once she is used to it. Grass is akin to hay. It will be calorie-neutral and satisfy your rabbit’s natural urges.
Do not allow your rabbit to gorge herself the day you bring her home. Any new food can cause problems with a rabbit’s stomach. If your pet eats a lot of grass at once, it can make her sick.
Introduce grass slowly and steadily within your rabbit’s hutch. You can buy it from a pet store or grow your own. With slightly more restricted access, your rabbit will steadily adapt to eating grass.
Watch out for any reaction after she eats grass. In particular, you’ll be checking for any effect on her digestion. This will become apparent when your pet poops.
If a rabbit overeats new food, she’ll get diarrhea. As well as being unpleasant to clean up, this is dangerous. Diarrhea leaves rabbits dehydrated, and with an empty stomach.
Moderation is key. If you slowly and steadily introduce grass into your pet’s diet, she’ll benefit.
Can Pet Rabbits Eat Lawn Clippings?
If you take scissors to your lawn, rabbits can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You could even use these clippings to create your own hay. This will ensure that you never run out, and will save you money. To turn your fresh grass clippings into hay for your rabbit:
- Let your grass grown out for at least two weeks. Cut it down, using scissors or a scythe.
- Collate the grass into a box or other storage container.
- Leave the grass to dry out. This can be the most complicated stage. If the grass gets rained on, it will just go soggy. You’ll need the grass to stay dry, but also breathe. If you use a greenhouse, leave the door cracked open.
- Wait around two weeks, and see if your rabbit enjoys the taste of your homemade hay.
If your experiment is a success, you will no longer need to purchase specialist hay. Watch for a reaction from your pet. If she is adversely affected, switch back to store-bought hay immediately.
Can Rabbits Eat Grass from the Lawnmower?
A rabbit should never eat grass straight out of a lawnmower. The grass catcher on the mechanism looks like a rabbit feast. There are too many risks involved, though.
There is always the chance the mower will start up again. It’s unlikely, but it can happen. Also, your rabbit may burrow into the grass catcher and fall asleep.
Even if the mower is safety unplugged and cannot start, there are risks. Rabbit skin is delicate, and the parts of a lawnmower could easily cut her. If she avoids this, she may become sick from licking metal parts and gears.
There is a risk of fermentation. When a lawnmower is used in your lawn, the grass is heated up and crushed. This starts the fermentation process that usually unfolds in your rabbit’s gut. A rabbit’s digestive tract is delicate and complicated. Fermented foods will make your pet sick.
The first symptom that your rabbit will experience is gas. This will be painful for your pet. As a result, she will stop eating. This is dangerous in itself. Also, your rabbit may become constipated.
A rabbit that cannot poop must be considered a medical emergency. A gastrointestinal blockage is the next logical step. These can be fatal within 48 hours, so do not take any needless risks.
We’re not saying that you can never use a lawnmower if you have a rabbit. Just don’t feed her the clippings, or leave them lying around. Use your fermented grass for compost instead.
Would a Pet Rabbit Eat Pesticides?
This is the main danger. Rabbits are not particular about what they eat. Your pet will not recognize pesticides by scent, so she can consume toxins without realizing it.
If you have a pet rabbit, you must keep this in mind. Wherever possible, avoid spray chemicals on your lawn. This means no pesticides or herbicides. In addition, avoid laying down pellets to deter other common garden pests.
If your rabbit does eat pesticides, she will display classic symptoms of poisoning. As PetMD explains, these include:
- Wildly varying body temperature. Your rabbit may be hot or cold. A rabbit’s body temperature should always remain between 100.5-103.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lethargy and general uncharacteristic listlessness.
- A reluctance or outright refusal to eat.
- Depression, and a reluctance to engage with humans or other pets.
- Seizures and convulsions.
In the event of a rabbit consuming toxins, you’ll need expert help. Rabbits are incapable of vomiting. This means that your pet cannot purge her own stomach. You must never attempt to induce vomiting in a rabbit.
At the first sign of poisoning, call your vet. You’ll need to ensure that your pet will be treated as a priority. Waiting for a gap in the schedule may be fatal for your rabbit. Toxins often lead to deadly gastrointestinal stasis.
Upon arrival at the veterinary surgery, a professional will flush out these toxins. This will be done using intravenous fluids. If the procedure is successful, the toxins will be diluted to the point of becoming harmless.
Do not attempt this at home, though. The process is more complicated than just offering your rabbit plenty of water. Poisoning in rabbits must be treated as a medical emergency.
Can a Rabbit Eat Weeds and Plants from the Yard?
Wild plants are another risk for rabbits that graze free-range. Many of the plants and flowers that grow in your yard can be lethal. Just because a cat or dog can eat them, it doesn’t mean a rabbit can. Safe plants and weeds for your pet, as The Rabbit House explains, include:
- Garlic Mustard (aka Jack in the Hedge)
- Goose Grass (aka Cleavers)
- Nettles. Rabbits tend not to notice the sting on these plants. However, ensure your pet does not gather and spread nettles. You, and other pets, will feel the sting.
- Smooth Sow Thistles. Again, be careful with this plant. Your rabbit isn’t bothered by the prickliness, but other pets and family members will be.
Unfortunately, your rabbit cannot always differentiate between plants. Often, she will just see something green and substantial. Curiosity will get the better of your pet, and she’ll start to eat anything new.
Toxicity is a defense mechanism for many plants. The fact is, plants do not want to be eaten any more than rabbits do. According to the Rabbit Welfare Association, plants that are deadly to your pet include:
- Belladonna (aka Deadly Nightshade)
- Comfrey Dahlias
- Convolvulus (aka Bindweed)
- Delphinium (aka Larkspur)
That’s quite an exhaustive list, and it does not necessarily cover every danger to your pet. Fence off any plants and block access for your rabbit. Rabbits do not need to eat plants.
Grass in your backyard is an excellent snack for rabbits. Remember, it will not replace hay in your pet’s diet. She still needs the fiber and toughness that hay provides.
Just ensure that the grass is fresh. That means no chemical treatments, and no mechanical cutting apparatus. If you can abide by these guidelines, your rabbit will enjoy the grass in your yard.