Foraging through fields and forests, the wild rabbit embarks on an epic quest for food each day. Driven by instinct and hunger, these resourceful herbivores utilize a diverse array of plants to fuel their active lifestyles. From grasses to greens, barks to buds, rabbits relish nature’s bounty. Through the seasons, their dining options change with each new plant’s emergence. Come explore the wild and wonderful foods that comprise a rabbit’s wholesome haute cuisine! Lean what makes up the spring, summer, fall and winter menu for these discerning diners. Take a hopping journey into the culinary world of the remarkable wild rabbit!

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?

Wild rabbits are herbivores, meaning they eat plant materials rather than meat. Their diet consists primarily of grasses, clovers, herbaceous plants, bark, twigs, buds, and some fruits. Rabbits require a varied diet in order to obtain all the necessary nutrients. Different types of wild rabbits may have slightly different diets depending on their habitat, but they all rely heavily on grasses, hay, plant stems, leaves, seeds, roots, and vegetables.

Wild rabbits are foragers and will eat a wide variety of plant foods. They prefer younger, more tender vegetation that is higher in protein and other nutrients. During warmer months, rabbits will eat grasses, clovers, dandelions, vetch, milkweed, mustards, and forbs. They also enjoy treat foods like berries, fruits, and vegetables when available. In the winter, rabbits switch to eating woody plant parts like bark, twigs, buds, and prunings.

Rabbits have continuously growing teeth, so they need to chew often to wear their teeth down. This is why they enjoy gnawing on tree bark and woody stems. The fiber in these foods also aids in healthy digestion. Fresh greens provide hydration and important vitamins and minerals. By consuming a diverse diet, wild rabbits obtain all the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water they need to thrive.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Spring?

In the spring, emerging plants provide rabbits with fresh, nutrient-rich foods to eat. The spring diet of wild rabbits consists of green grasses like ryegrass, bromes, fescues, and wheatgrass. They also graze on clovers, alfalfa, vetch and other legumes. As spring flowers begin to bloom, rabbits enjoy eating young leaves, stems, buds, and flower heads. Dandelions, mustards, plantain, chickweed, and wild strawberry plants are spring favorites.

In addition to grazing, rabbits will stand on their hind legs to reach tender new spring growth on shrubs and trees. They eat leaf and flower buds from trees like maple, aspen, poplar, apple, and willow. Rabbits also nibble on woody stems and branches. Bark from young trees provides nutrients as well as necessary roughage.

As spring heads into summer, rabbits supplement their diet with other newly available foods. Wild berries like blackberries, raspberries, and mulberries become part of the rabbit diet. Rabbits also sample garden vegetables and fruits if they can access them. Fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables supply additional protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A diverse spring diet ensures rabbits have abundant energy for the active breeding season.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Summer?

The summer diet of wild rabbits consists of leafy greens, grasses, clovers, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and woody plants. They graze primarily in the morning and evening when temperatures are cooler. During the day, rabbits seek shelter and rest in shady spots.

Rabbits continue eating grasses, especially young, tender new growth. Clovers, plantain, vetch, alfalfa, and weeds like dandelions and mustards are also favored. Rabbits will sample many species of summer wildflowers and greens. As vegetable gardens yield produce, rabbits may sneak in at night to nibble on carrots, beans, peas, squash, and other vegetables.

Fruits become a larger part of the summer diet. Rabbits enjoy eating fallen berries, fruits, and seeds. Plums, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears, and tomatoes are readily consumed when available. Rabbits also continue browsing on woody plant parts like bark, branches, buds, leaves, and twigs. This provides essential fiber and allows them to wear down their constantly growing teeth.

A diverse diet consisting of herbs, forbs, fruits, vegetables, and woody plants provides wild rabbits with the nutrition and hydration to remain healthy and active during the hot summer months. Their foraging naturally balances nutrients and provides a rich array of vitamins and minerals important for summer breeding.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Fall?

In the fall, wild rabbits shift their diet to take advantage of autumn’s bounty. As temperatures cool, rabbits are more active during daytime hours foraging for food. Grasses, clovers, hay, and fresh greens remain staples in the rabbit diet through late fall. Dandelion and chicory leaves, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli plants provide important nutrients.

Rabbits browse on greens in gardens and enjoy alfalfa, beans, carrots, and peas. Fruits and berries continue to supplement the diet. Windfall apples, pears, plums, persimmons, elderberries, and blackberries are readily consumed. Rabbits nibble on fallen tree nuts like acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts. Seeds from grasses and herbaceous plants are also eaten.

As plant vegetation dies back, rabbits rely more on bark, twigs, buds, and woody branches to meet their nutritional needs. Prunings from fruit trees and other woody plants can sustain rabbits when herbaceous plants become less available. Rabbits also chew on tree bark, gnawing the soft inner layers. Acorns and other nuts have high caloric value to help rabbits put on fat reserves before winter.

What Do Wild Rabbits Eat In Winter?

Wild rabbits rely primarily on woody vegetation for their winter diet. When the ground is covered in snow, it’s hard for them to graze. Rabbits will eat any remaining thick grasses and herbaceous plants that stick up through the snow. But most of their sustenance comes from the bark, twigs, buds and prunings of shrubs and trees.

Rabbits gnaw on and eat the nutrient-rich inner bark of trees and woody plants. This provides them with carbohydrates and calories to generate energy and body heat. They’ll supplement their diet with buds from trees and shrubs which contain some protein and nutrients. Twigs and small branches also add roughage and fiber.

Some rabbits will cache piles of bark, branches or other plant material to help them get through the winter. They spend more time resting in sheltered spots to conserve energy when not foraging. Rabbits only leave shelter to search out additional food when necessary. Their winter diet provides just enough protein, carbohydrates and nutrients to survive the harsh conditions until spring.

What Kinds Of Plants Do Wild Rabbits Prefer?

Wild rabbits are not particularly picky eaters and will sample many different plants. However, there are certain vegetation types they prefer and seek out as part of their regular diet. Grasses and herbaceous plants make up the largest part of the wild rabbit diet. They also consume significant amounts of tree bark, buds, twigs and leaves.

Rabbits prefer to eat younger herbaceous plants and grasses that are more tender and higher in nutrients. Their favorites include wheatgrass, ryegrass, bromes, fescues, and wild oats. Clover, alfalfa, vetch and other legumes are regularly eaten. Weeds like dandelions, chickweed, plantain and wild mustards are also rabbit favorites.

In terms of shrubs and trees, rabbits tend to prefer softer or faster growing varieties. They favor eating the inner bark, branches and buds of willow, aspen, maple, sumac, apple, and beech trees. Pine and spruce needles are also readily consumed. Rabbits will sample most species, but typically prefer softer, faster growing plants that are easier to chew and digest.

Do Wild Rabbits Eat Vegetables?

Wild rabbits will eat vegetable plants that are available to them in gardens or around human cultivation. Rabbits are opportunistic foragers and won't pass up an easily obtained meal. Vegetables that rabbits particularly relish include carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, squash, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips and cabbage. They will nibble on ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and other garden produce.

Rabbits may raid vegetable gardens at night when natural vegetation is sparse. Damage to vegetables may be extensive during times when other food is limited. While rabbits enjoy vegetables, these cultivated plants do not make up a significant portion of the wild rabbit diet. Access to gardens and farms largely determines the amount of vegetables wild rabbits consume.

How Do Rabbits Know What To Eat?

Rabbits don't have innate knowledge of what plants are best to eat or avoid. They learn what foods their bodies can tolerate and digest through trial and error. Baby rabbits start to nibble on vegetation at about 2 weeks old. They initially stick close to their mothers, eating the same foods she grazes on.

Young rabbits explore and experiment with eating new plants. If a food makes them sick, they avoid it in the future. If a plant provides needed nutrients and energy, they will continue seeking it out. Rabbits must consume a wide variety of vegetation in order to meet all their nutritional requirements. Their foraging behavior is driven by the need for diverse foods.

Some poisonous plants have strong smells or unpleasant tastes that rabbits instinctively avoid. Through selective grazing over many generations, rabbits have developed preferences for foods that best nourish them. Mother rabbits also train their young about good versus dangerous foods. Sharing knowledge helps the species optimize their diet.

Why Do Pet Rabbits Need Different Food?

Domesticated pet rabbits have different dietary requirements than wild rabbits. Wild rabbits graze on a huge variety of grasses, plants, shrubs and trees. The diversity provides all the protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber and nutrients they need. Pet rabbits don't have access to such wide-ranging foods.

Commercial rabbit pellets are formulated to contain a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals that meet pet rabbit nutritional needs. Hay provides essential roughage and fiber for good digestion. A limited amount of fresh vegetables can supplement the diet, but should not compose the bulk of what domesticated rabbits eat.

Unlike wild rabbits, pets don't exercise constantly while foraging for food and eluding predators. Without diverse vegetation to gnaw, their teeth don't grind down properly. Pet owners must provide safe chew toys and have their rabbit's teeth trimmed periodically. A proper diet is critical for the health of domesticated rabbits.

Can I Feed A Wild Rabbit?

It's best not to feed wild rabbits yourself. Supplemental feeding can be harmful to their health and survival. While vegetables seem appealing, they don't provide the full range of nutrients rabbits need. Feeding can make them dependent on getting food from humans rather than grazing naturally. It also exposes them to dangers like predators joining the easy meal.

Too many treats or an imbalanced diet can cause digestive issues in rabbits. Their digestive systems are adapted to processing high volumes of leafy material, not rich foods. Well-meaning feeders often provide rabbits with incorrect nutrition that makes them ill. Letting wildlife forage naturally nearly always provides them a healthier diet.

Rabbits that become accustomed to hand-outs may lose their fear of humans and become habituated. This leads to risky behavior like hiding under cars, approaching pets, or raiding gardens more aggressively. For the good of the rabbits, it's better not to feed them artificially. Let wild rabbits eat their natural diet.

Do Rabbits Eat Flower Bulbs?

Rabbits enjoy eating the tender greens and shoots that emerge from flower bulbs in spring. Tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, lilies and other spring flowering bulbs provide a tempting meal to rabbits. The damage rabbits cause by eating bulb greens and digging up bulbs is frustrating to gardeners.

To protect bulbs from rabbits, lay chicken wire or hardware cloth over the planted areas. Make sure openings are no more than 1/2 inch so rabbits can't get their teeth through. Surrounding bulbs with sharp gravel or stones also deters rabbits from digging. Unplanted bulbs can be stored over the winter in mesh bags to prevent rabbit damage.

Repellent sprays made from hot pepper, garlic, or predator urine may deter rabbit grazing for a short time. Reapplying frequently is required. Motion-activated sprinklers and lights can also scare away bulb-nibbling rabbits. Using protective barriers and making plants less appetizing is the best strategy to save flowers.


Rabbits are herbivores that eat a diverse range of plant foods. Grasses, leafy greens, herbs, vegetables, fruits, bark and woody twigs make up the diet of wild rabbits. They preferentially browse on tender new growth that provides more protein and nutrients. Though rabbits will eat a wide variety of plants, they favor grass, clover, forbs, and the inner bark of trees. Their food preferences vary somewhat by season based on availability. Rabbits are opportunistic foragers, sampling many plant species in order to meet all their nutritional requirements while roaming wild.


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