Rabbits have managed to survive in the wild by eating a variety of plants. They are also very good at sneaking into cultivated gardens and eating their fill, sometimes destroying the entire garden in the process. Rabbits have an acute sense of smell that enables them to sniff out plants. When they find a good spot with plenty of food, they will come back time and again until the food supply is gone.
Rabbits, whether wild or domesticated, are browsers who like to nibble on an assortment of plants in order to receive the nutrition that they need. Their diet includes flowers, which could be in your garden or out in the wilderness. Examples of flowers that rabbits will readily eat are bachelor's button, cosmos, impatiens, nasturtium, pansies, petunia, snapdragon, sunflowers, zinnias, baby's breath, hosta, iris, iceland poppy, lupine, phlox and dandelions.
Rabbits enjoy eating a variety of herbs, especially the ones you grow and keep healthy and tasty. Herbaceous plants grow in the wild as well as in people's gardens, but if given the choice, rabbits will come into your garden where the herbs are easy to find. A few herbs that rabbits prefer are parsley, basil and spearmint or peppermint. If you grow these and have rabbits nearby, keep them in pots that are out of the reach of rabbits.
There are quite a few varieties of vegetables that rabbits will eat, including both the leaves and the actual vegetable itself. Rabbits like apples, beans, beets, broccoli, grapes, peppers, lettuce, carrots (of course), peas, spinach and chard. Many of these vegetables grow in the wild, but most are cultivated in gardens these days and are rare in the wild. Fence your garden if you have rabbits around, as this is really the only way to keep them away.
Rabbits will eat shrubs---generally the lower branches and leaves---but they will also stand up to reach higher branches. They particularly like barberry, flowering quince, crabapple, forsythia, hawthorn, oakleaf hydrangea, rose bushes, serviceberry and witch hazel.
Like most animals, rabbits tend to know which plants to stay away from, but occasionally they still eat plants that are toxic. A few examples are the leaves of the agave, almonds, amaryllis bulbs, angel's trumpet, apple seeds, apricot leaves, crocus, avocado tree leaves, azalea leaves, seeds of the bird of paradise, calla lilly leaves, carnations, cyclamen, daffodil bulbs, daisies, parsnips, pear seeds, plum seeds, poinsettia leaves and the flowers, poison oak, primrose and ranunculus.
- Photo Credit urban rabbit image by jesse welter from Fotolia.com
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