What Do Wild Rabbits Eat?
Have you ever wondered what do wild rabbits eat?
While wild rabbits can survive on what we feed domestic rabbits, they don't have access to hay, pellets and fruits and vegetables out in the wild every day. In their world, they must survive on whatever they can find.
Like their domestic cousins, wild rabbits eat plants. They are designed to digest cellulose and other plant fibers. Grass, shrubs, weeds and flowering plants make up the majority of their diet.
Like other rabbits, wild ones pass their food through their system twice to get as much nutrition out of it as possible. After the first pass through, the rabbit produces cecotropes, a soft feces that the rabbit ingests so it can pass through again, creating the dry droppings we normally associate with rabbits.
Most wild rabbits do their grazing in late afternoon or early evening. They can graze for hours if they feel safe. When they are finished, they go back to the place they sleep and ingest cecotropes. Imagine how much time they must spend eating!
Of course, if they can get access to a garden, they are happy to eat lettuce, pea plants or anything else that looks appetizing. If food is scarce, they may start eating landscape plants or chewing on bark found on shrubs and trees.
For wild rabbits living in dry areas, they rely on sparse grasses, shrubs and small trees. The rabbits will choose plants that contain more moisture or are in an active state of growth when they are available. In fall and winter, these wild rabbits rely on shrubs, while grass and herbaceous flowering plants will make up most of their food sources in the spring and summer.
They get most of their water needs met by foraging. In desert areas, sagebrush makes up a large part of their diet. Other desert plants that are eaten by wild rabbits include rabbitbrush, black greasewood and spiny hopsage. Grasses are only available to them in a very short part of the year. In hot desert areas, rabbits will forage on mesquite, creosote bush and broom snakeweed.
Desert wild rabbits eat plants that other rabbits will not touch. Grass is available only briefly, and during the blooming season, the rabbits make the most of any flowering shrubs that may grow in the area. Saguaro and other species of cacti are used all year long as a source of water. While it may be hard to imagine a rabbit eating a cactus, somehow they manage to do it.
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